St Columba's Church, Kells
The name of Kells is primarily associated with the famous "Book of Kells," a splendidly illuminated Gospel book which is now in the library of Trinity College in Dublin. A facsimile can be seen in St Columba's Church, a modern building on high ground in the center of the town, surrounded by a churchyard, on the site of the old monastery. By the church stands a 100ft/30m high round tower (10th century: National Monument) with five windows at the top; the original roof is missing.
Opening hours: May 1 to Sep 30: 10am-5pm; Sat: 10am-1pm; Closed: Sun
Adjoining the St Columba's Church in the center of Kells is the South Cross or Cross of SS Patrick and Columba (National Monument), probably erected in the ninth century. It has a wealth of sculptured ornament. On the base are a train of chariots, animals and interlace; on the south face the Fall, Cain and Abel, the Three Young Men in the Fiery Furnace, and above this Daniel in the Lions' Den, the Sacrifice of Isaac, to the right SS Paul and Anthony in the wilderness, and above this again David with his harp and the Miracle of the Loaves and Fishes; and on the west face the Crucifixion and Christ as Judge. There are also a representation of David killing the lion and the bear and a number of panels with interlace ornament and fabulous beasts.33yd/30m away can be seen the stump of a very large cross (National Monument) with unusual representations on the east side of the Baptism of Christ (with two rivers flowing together), the Marriage in Cana (?), the Presentation in the Temple (?), David with his harp and the Entry into Jerusalem (?), and on the west side Adam and Eve, Noah's Ark, etc. An unfinished cross beside the church reveals the sculptor's method of work.Also in the churchyard stands the tower of a medieval church, with various gravestones built into the walls, including a fine one with effigies of a man and his wife.