Columba 1450

Iona Abbey

Iona Abbey (engraving by J Greig, 1817)

Three days ago, on Saturday 20 July, the President of Ireland – Michael D Higgins – visited Iona Abbey to attend an ecumenical service marking the 1450th anniversary of St Columba’s arrival on the western shores of Britain in 563. Scottish Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop gave a speech in which she drew attention to the numerous historical links between Ireland and Scotland: “St Columba’s journey to Iona is just one of the many events which have created our strong bond with Ireland and it’s important that we recognise and celebrate the continuing significance of this remarkable man and the community he founded.”

With a small band of companions, Columba left his Irish homeland to establish a monastery on the tiny Hebridean isle. He died there in 597, after a long and distinguished ecclesiastical career which brought him into contact with some of the key figures of the sixth century – renowned abbots and powerful kings on both sides of the Irish Sea.

To celebrate the 1450th anniversary, I’m planning a short series of blogposts on Columba, highlighting episodes from his career as presented in the vita or ‘Life’ written by Adomnán, ninth abbot of Iona. The series will be fairly random, in topic as well as frequency, and will simply reflect those parts of the vita that particularly caught my eye while writing my own book about Columba (see below).


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Newsnet Scotland, 20 July 2013 – President of Ireland visits Iona

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6 comments on “Columba 1450

  1. Susan Abernethy says:

    Looking forward to these posts Tim!

  2. tsmorangles says:

    Iona is lovely even in winter but I strongly siggest to avoid visiting it in December. If the ladies of the abbey are wonderfully kind, the other locals were enjoying a grumpy day. My friend walks with a stick, the next ferry was in an hour and the local pub/general store/shopkeeper lady did not even have one stool for my poor companion…
    Mind you as we returned to Obhan, we found a lovely old pub and an adorable landlord! Columba must have taken mercy on us!

    • Tim says:

      I like Iona a lot and would ideally spend a week there (if the opportunity ever arose). It has a new visitor centre for this year’s summer season. A winter visit may be a possibility for me in the future, i.e. when (or if) I retire.

      • tsmorangles says:

        In which case, be careful. We believe that our innocent through the cemetery where (much later we discovered that MacBeth and other Royals are buried) got us cursed… Mind you, once in the ferry, we were saved!

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