Plans are in place to mark the Feast Day of St Colmcille/Columba with a series of events taking place across the North West region on Thursday 09 June.
The events are being organised in joint partnership with Derry City and Strabane District Council, Donegal County Council and other partners, as part of the final celebration of the Colmcille 1500 programme of activities that were organised to celebrate the life of the Saint.
Two special Feast Day Masses will be celebrated on 09 June, one in St Eunan’s Cathedral in Letterkenny, celebrated by the Bishop of Raphoe and broadcast on the RTÉ News Channel at 10.30am, and the second one celebrated by the Bishop of Derry from St. Columba’s Church, Long Tower, at 7.30pm.
A special Colmcille pageant entitled: ‘An Turas-The Journey’ will take place after the Mass in Long Tower and the traditional Feast Day Blessing at St Columb’s Well on Thursday 09 June at 8.30pm. Delivered by the North West Carnival Initiative, in collaboration with In Your Space and Greater Shantallow Arts, this celebratory pageant is commissioned by Derry City and Strabane District Council and funded by the North West Development Fund, and will explore Colmcille’s life and legacy from his Donegal beginnings, the establishment of his monastery in Derry through to the Battle of Cúl Dreimhne and his banishment to Iona. This unique performance will feature dance, theatrical poetry readings, installations and the finest of local traditional musicians.
St Augustine’s Church in Derry is celebrating 150 years since it was consecrated on 9th June 1872 with a special Feast Day performance by Opera Hibernia at 7.30pm. Tickets and further details are available at: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/st-augustines-150th-anniversary-concert-tickets-345622314647?fbclid=IwAR133k7oIP4RSSqGKvnyMK1viXxI1Pj5ghYiwmMht9PVKJjU9oNTXa7yY6I
The Alley Theatre in Strabane will play host to the Battle of Knockavoe Anniversary Exhibition 1522-2022 from 4th June to 22nd July, commemorating the 500th Anniversary of the battle between the O’Donnell’s of Donegal and the O’Neill’s of Tyrone. The exhibition includes a nod to Colmcille, who one thousand years before, was born into the Cénell Conaill, of whom the O’Donnell dynasty descended from. Manus O’Donnell who led the troops into Knockavoe, was responsible for producing an important book of Colmcille’s life and commissioning the building of churches in Gartan and Kilmacrennan, of which ruins still remain today.
Other events planned in Donegal include a ‘Celebration of St. Columba’s Life and Ministry’ at St. Colmcille’s Abbey in Churchtown/Rath Cnó, Gartan, on Sunday 05 June at 3pm, that will be attended by the Church of Ireland Bishop of Derry and Raphoe, Rt Rev Andrew Forster and will include music and children’s activities.
County Donegal Heritage Office has produced Illuminating Colmcille / Léargas ar Cholm Cille’ , a colouring book to mark the Colmcille 1500 commemorations which highlights some of the heritage sites, places, objects and archives associated with St. Colmcille’s life and legacy. In the lead-up to the Feast Day, free copies are being made available from local libraries or you can download a digital version at www.donegalcoco.ie/heritage. Copies have also been distributed to all 23 primary schools named after the Saint across the two Council areas.
Donegal Library Service has released a very special illustrated comic produced as part of a Colmcille Digital Folklore Project by schools in Donegal and Derry in partnership with Libraries NI. The comic takes a light-hearted look at the folklore and legends of the Donegal saint. Copies are available in local libraries or you can download a copy at: https://www.donegallibrary.ie/media/donegal-library/contentassets/files/pdflibrary/Colmcille%201500%20FINAL.pdf
A number of other community and church led events to mark this important Feast Day will be held across the North West including a number of religious services at local churches and holy wells. Any further information will be available on the Colmcille Facebook page – www.facebook.com/Colmcille1500NW