Celebrating Colmcille 1500 During National Heritage Week

With this year marking the 1500th anniversary of the birth of Colmcille, Heritage Week running from 14th to 22nd August 2021, is the perfect opportunity to bring Colmcille to life as part of this national initiative aimed at building heritage awareness and appreciation.

Donegal County Council, Derry City and Strabane District Council as well as other organisations across the North West are hosting a range of activities to celebrate Colmcille during Heritage Week. These include, for example, exhibitions, talks, workshops, and concerts through a range of themes embracing history, music, literature, art, storytelling and archaeology.

“National Heritage Week will be different again this year but there are lots of opportunities for people to get involved either on-line or in person” said Joseph Gallagher, County Donegal Heritage Officer.  This year’s activities have embraced a variety of digital and on-line formats, providing innovative ways to explore Ireland’s diverse heritage.  People can explore their local heritage or discover some national heritage treasures from their own homes.  Projects and events will be updated regularly so check out the Heritage Week website www.heritageweek.ie for more details.” 

Deirdre Harte, Colmcille 1500 Project Manager with Donegal County Council, said: “We’re delighted with the number of Colmcille activities taking place during Heritage Week which is the perfect opportunity to showcase some of the commemorations taking place during this special year.  With a wide range of events such as poetry and medieval ink workshops, contemporary visual arts exhibitions and talks by engaging authors and storytellers, there should be something for everyone. You can find further information on Colmcille 1500 on our website at www.colmcille1500.com or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/Colmcille1500NW”.

Colmcille 1500 activities taking place during Heritage Week include:

  • A series of nine online Colmcille 1500 lectures ‘Colmcille Books and Beyond’ organised by Donegal Library Service with guest speakers Dr. Brian Lacey, Christy Gillespie, Donal Mac Polin, Tim Stampton, Paula de Fougerolles and Joe Brennan taking place between 14th and 21st August – for further details and to register for events go to www.donegallibrary.ie;
  • An exhibition by renowned artist and children’s book illustrator Tim Stampton in Central Library Letterkenny which includes a series of his paintings “The Maledictions of Colmcille”, based on the folktales surrounding the short tempered saint – https://www.heritageweek.ie/projects/the-maledictions-of-colmcille-art-exhibition-by-tim-stampton;
  • A visual arts multi-venue exhibition ‘Turas’ is a visual art journey traversing Donegal’s cultural landscape featuring Irish based established and emerging artists – exploring the societal shifts that shape our collective identity. Exhibitions currently in place at the Regional Cultural Centre Letterkenny, An Gailearaí Ghaoth Dobhair and Glebe House & Gallery Churchill –https://regionalculturalcentre.com/event/turas;
  • An exhibition ‘Colmcille – Man and Myths’ at the Tower Museum in Derry – a joint exhibition between the two Councils which will take you on a journey of discovery around the world of Colmcille in Donegal and Derry – https://www.heritageweek.ie/projects/colmcille-1500-exhibition-man-and-myth;
  • A short video to bring to life some of the initial findings from an archaeological excavation in Disert organised by Disert Heritage and IT Sligo. ‘Disert Dig 2021 – The First Results’ will be available on Wednesday 18th August at https://disertheritage.com;
  • An online workshop exploring medieval ink and hand embroidery techniques on Thursday 19th August at 10.00am organised by the Tower Museum to complement the Colmcille exhibition. You can join the workshop via https://www.facebook.com/towermuseum;
  • A presentation by Dr. David Carson on ‘The Influence of Colmcille on An Túr Gloine movement’ focussing on the stained-glass windows in St. Eunan’s Cathedral, Letterkenny organised by Letterkenny Cathedral Quarter on Thursday, August 19 at 4.30pm –https://www.heritageweek.ie/projects/the-influence-of-colmcille-on-an-tur-gloine-movement;
  • An online concert, as part of the Every Voice Festival, organised by Allegri and filmed in the beautiful settings of St Columb’s Cathedral, St Columba’s Church Long Tower and Áras Cholmcille in Derry will be streamed on Sunday 22nd August 2021 at 1pm – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC0bZjMmOm63cRqpNwiJdnRg;
  • A podcast conversation with archaeologist, author and expert on Colmcille – Brian Lacey will be available as well as an online poetry writing workshop led by local poet Annemarie Ní Churreáin and Scottish poet Charlie Gracie on Sunday 22nd August 2021 at 7.00pm organised by The Song House/Teach na nAmhrán –  https://www.heritageweek.ie/projects/colmcille-podcast-poetry-workshops.

Colmcille 1500 is a year-long commemoration marking the 1500th anniversary of the birth of Colmcille – also known as Columba.  Donegal County Council and Derry City & Strabane District Council are co-ordinating a programme for the year which is being supported by key partners including the North West Development Fund, in conjunction with and supported by The Executive Office and The Irish Government – www.colmcille1500.com.

National Heritage Week is coordinated by The Heritage Council and Local Authority Heritage Officers with support from the Department of Housing, Local Government & Heritage and is part of European Heritage Days – www.heritageweek.ie.


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