Plain from the outside but with a rich Gothic interior, St. Columba’s Church marks the location of the Monastery of Kells, a religious house established in the 9th Century when the High King of Ireland gifted the land to St. Columba to found a community of monks.
The resulting monastery became Ireland’s principal Columban community, but was destroyed in 918. In the late Middle Ages, a new church was built on the site, only to fall into ruins in the following centuries. In the 18th Century, the present St. Columba’s Church was constructed incorporating the medieval bell tower of its predecessor.
If you’re interested in Irish history, or have a yen for church architecture, St. Columba’s Church has plenty to offer. The interior is home to some impressive Victorian stained glass windows and the marble Taylour monument, commemorating the Irish peer and politician, Sir Thomas Taylour. Also of note is a copy of the revered Book of Kells in the old baptistry.
History enthusiasts will want to explore the church grounds to see the remains of several Celtic crosses, probably dating from the 11th Century, as well as the church’s Round Tower. Most likely also dating from the 11th Century, the tower was designed as a sanctuary for the original Columban monks if invaders threatened.
St. Columba’s Church is open to visitors from Mondays to Saturdays during the summer months.