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Find out about accommodation, restaurants, activities and things to do in Kells and the surrounding district. Includes information on Festivals & Events, as well as short trips from Kells. French Version | German Version

Kells Heritage Town

The heritage town of Kells contains many fine examples of early Christian architecture. The name Kells comes from Kenlis, an 

anglicisation of the Irish language name Ceann Lios, meaning "head fort". Ceann Lios seems to be another form of the 

name Ceannanas Mór. Kells, Kenlis and Headfort all feature in the titles taken by the Taylor Family, who lived in Headfort Estate and

all contribute to local place names.

The town of Kells is famous for St. Columcille's 6th century monastery and the Book of Kells, that bears the name of the town, which is now on display in Trinity College, Dublin.  In 550 St. Columba, also know as St. Colmcille, established a religious settlement at Kells. Generally, monastic settlements were surrounded by a circular boundary wall called a vallum, which acted as a frontier between the holy world within and the secular world outside. They often contained a church, graveyard, high crosses, monk's cells and from the late 10th century, Round towers also became a feature. 

Although Kells became an important Anglo-Norman walled settlement, it is its monastic heritage that best survives. Kells' round tower stands at a height of 25 metres. The tower is surrounded by several finely carved high crosses, with the most important of these, the Market Cross, having been relocated outside the Kells Courthouse. A stone church known as St. Columcille's House, dating from the 9th century is possibly the oldest surviving structure in the town. It is a classic example of an early Irish church with a steeply pointed stone roof. 

The most famous treasure created by the community of St. Columba is the Book of Kells, a highly ornate version of the four gospels in Latin. It was written on vellum around the year 800 and remains one of the most important and beautiful illuminated manuscripts.

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