A Bank Holiday In Kells, Ireland

girls standing next to stone wall

Today is the first Monday in August, which is a bank holiday in Ireland, and we went to Kells to walk the heritage trail (following a map to be picked up in the town council’s office) and have some lunch. Anyone familiar with Irish bank holidays would probably be snickering a bit because they'd know that the town council was closed, as were most of the shops and restaurants and places that make a town show its life. Often, we were the only people out on the street, and while Kells is not a large town in the first place, it was certainly noticeable.

Fortunately, most of the sites on the heritage trail are outside and sign-posted. Kells is a special place in Irish religious history. The Abbey of Kells was first founded around the year 554. In the early 800s, monks from the Scottish island of Iona relocated to this abbey to escape Viking raiders. It was here that the famous Book of Kells was completed, even though the Vikings caught up with the Ionans and repeatedly attached the abbey. The round tower was designed as a bell tower and a safe place to hide during the attacks. There were no stairs inside; only ladders to each of the windows.

stone tower

The site also holds several Celtic high crosses from the 9th century. The monastery and church were destroyed in 918, leaving only the bell tower still standing. The present church was built in 1778.

Celtic high cross

Celtic high cross with church in background

Celtic high cross

I am not sure how much more of the history we'd have learned had we visited yesterday or earlier in our stay, because it does seem like we got to see the sites and read the signs. Still, I'll remember to do more research into public holidays for future stops on our World Around the Trip.

General Information

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