President, Bishops and Ambassadors to mark special day

Organisations across the North West are gearing up for the Feast Day of St Colmcille on 9th June – a date that is all the more special given this historic year as the 1500th anniversary of the Saint’s birth. Whilst the ongoing COVID restrictions may be limiting physical events that can take place, there is plenty happening online as well as church services and exhibitions open to the public.

Celebrations kick off with the 2021 American Conference for Irish Studies (ACIS) on 2-5 June 2021, broadcast live from Ulster University’s Magee campus, where academics and historians from across the globe will bring Colmcille’s rich academic legacy to life. Some of the live streamed sessions will be available to the public at including a keynote address by Michael D. Higgins, President of Ireland on Thursday 3 June at 5pm as well as addresses by the Irish and UK ambassadors to the US on Saturday 5 June.


As part of the conference, a special programme ‘Slí Colmcille’ presented by Líonra Leitir Ceanainn in conjunction with Letterkenny Regional Cultural Centre will premiere live on Friday 4 June at 8pm on with music and poetry, history and storytelling from a host of wonderful guests across Ireland and Scotland.

On Sunday 6 June 2021, the Saint’s birth place in Gartan, Donegal will be celebrated in two special services. Mass will be broadcast live on RTE One at 11.00am to celebrate both Corpus Christi and the 1500th anniversary, with celebrant Fr Michael McKeever joined by parishioners from St Colmcille’s Church, Glendowan. A Church of Ireland Service of Holy Communion in St Columba’s Church, Gartan in Church Hill at 12.30pm will celebrate the international heritage of Columba and can be viewed live at or later at

Raphoe Diocese Colmcille 1500 will present ‘Colmcille: A Lasting Legacy’, a virtual series on the life and legacy of Colmcille/Columba, to be streamed in three parts via YouTube on 6, 7 and 8 June 2021 at 8pm. The series will include contributions from Bishop Alan McGuckian SJ and Rev. David Houlton, Rector of Gartan as well as historians, academics and other Columban experts. Original poetry and music compositions will also feature as well as excerpts from the work of local schoolchildren and an extract from ‘The Enemy Within’ in Gaeilge. Margaret McAteer’s new musical setting of ‘Alone with None but Thee will also premiere with Colmcille Gospel Choir and featuring guest singers such as Moya Brennan along with other choirs, performers and Glencolmcille Primary School. Further details can be found at:

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