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Derry City & Strabane District Council and Donegal County Council welcome the launch of the Colmcill

07 December 2020
Derry City & Strabane District Council and Donegal County Council welcome the launch of the Colmcille 1500th commemorative year, commencing on 7th December 2020.
 
The Councils in particular are delighted to see the extensive local programme taking place on 7th December by a wide range of organisations, which shows the interest in Colmcille and the appreciation of his legacy. 
  
Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Cllr Brian Tierney says “We are delighted to be working with our colleagues in  Donegal County Council and wider partners to mark the 1500th anniversary of the birth of Derry’s patron saint Colmcille by hosting a year of events to recognize the importance of this saint not only for our city and district but also for the islands of Ireland and Scotland and across the entire world. It is hugely important that we celebrate St Colmcille and the significant role he played in shaping our historical and cultural heritage. St Colmcille’s connection with Derry and Donegal is evident from the many landmarks, churches and schools which have adopted his name and I am delighted that with funding from the North West Development Fund, the Irish Government’s Department of Culture Heritage & the Gaeltacht and both Councils, we have been able to put into place an extensive range of celebratory events  for everyone to enjoy and be part of.”
 
Cathaoirleach of Donegal County Council, Cllr Rena Donaghy, says “I’m particularly supportive of this commemoration because Colmcille was born in Gartan, County Donegal.  As one of Ireland’s three patron saints, it’s fitting that an extensive and ambitious programme from a variety of stakeholders marks his importance and his legacy”.  She adds “I would like to acknowledge the work of the Colmcille~Columba 1500 Steering Group in the planning of the launch and of its members and others in organising the extensive programme to mark the launch”.
 
Colmcille was a significant figure in the early Irish church and is credited with the spread of Christianity throughout Scotland and further afield. He is thought to have founded many monasteries, the most significant of these being the monastery at Iona. In Ireland, Colmcille is one of Ireland’s three patron saints, along with Saint Patrick and Saint Bridget and is widely celebrated, especially in Donegal and Derry. 
 
Cross Border groups across the religious, civic, educational, and arts and heritage, tourism and leisure sectors have collaborated to build on the rich heritage of Colmcille and those who followed him to mark the 1500th year since his birth.
 
Derry City & Strabane District Council and Donegal County Council are working in close partnership and have many joint projects and events planned to commemorate the 1500th anniversary of St Colmcille’s birth.  The programme has been developed based on extensive consultation undertaken for the Audit of Columban Cultural Heritage commissioned by Donegal County Council, Derry City & Strabane District Council, Foras na Gaeilge and The Heritage Council as part of the implementation of the County Donegal Heritage Plan. The overall project is being supported by the North West Development Fund, in conjunction with and supported by The Executive Office and The Irish Government.  Further projects are in development and supported by other funding bodies and the Councils.
 
The programme includes:
§​  Appointment of Colmcille 1500 Project Manager to coordinate the Colmcille 1500 commemorations;
§  Conservation works to selected Columban archaeological and built heritage sites;
§  Major cross-border exhibition on the life of Colmcille curated by Donegal County Museum and the Tower Museum in partnership with The Nerve Centre;
§  Colmcille Digital Schools’ Folklore Project coordinated by the Donegal Library Service and Libraries NI in association with The Nerve Centre;
§  Production of an educational resource pack for primary schools on the life and legacy of Colmcille;
§  Academic conference organised​ by the Magee College campus of Ulster University;
§  Cross-border production by An Grianan Theatre of Brian Friel’s play ‘The Enemy Within’;
 
Many more events are planned by both Councils and by many other stakeholders in Donegal, Derry and further afield, and will be promoted throughout 2021.