Where, when and why you should visit Mull this year

Click to follow
The Independent Travel
Christians are this year celebrating the 1,500th anniversary of the arrival of St Augustine's Christianity in Britain. The Celts, not to be outdone, are simultaneously commemorating the death of their very own Christian saint, Columba, who died on Iona 1,400 years ago tomorrow.

Augustine, who was eventually made the first Archbishop of Canterbury in AD601, brought his band of missionaries to the Isle of Thanet in south- eastern England. St Columba's achievement, by contrast, was to introduce a Celtic version of Christianity into Britain from the opposite end. He came from Ireland and settled on the small island of Iona. From there it was a short step to launch his spiritual invasion of Scotland and northern Britain.

He was also responsible, indirectly, for spreading Celtic art into Europe on the back of this Celtic version of Christianity, which continued to flourish on his monastic estates in Iona right through the Dark Ages.

The following are a few of the forthcoming events happening on and around Iona, commemorating St Columba's death:

l In Tobermory, on the Isle of Mull, the old primary school was yesterday re-opened as An Tobar, the west coast's newest art centre. It will house exhibitions of Celtic art as well as providing workshops for both young and old. Call 01688 302211 for further details.

l Today at 3pm there will be a concert of early Scottish music in Iona abbey, including an "ancient Scottish plainchant for St Columba", medieval Galician lovesongs, and contemporary and traditional Gaelic song and dance.

l A curragh, or coracle, 36ft long, with a crew of 13, will set sail tomorrow from Antrim, Northern Ireland, for Iona. The idea is to replicate Columba's own first voyage in the sixth century. The estimated day of arrival is 15 June, barring unforeseen storms at sea. l A play, Columcille (as Columba is known in Gaelic), based on the life of St Columba and especially written for the anniversary by local playwright Iain Crichton Smith, is currently touring (until 14 June) in the Mull area. From 7-16 July it will, in addition, be performed in County Mayo in the Republic of Ireland, before returning to St Columba's Cathedral in Oban.

l Historical and archaeological displays are on show in St Columba's cathedral and Corran Esplanade church in Oban, detailing the early Christian way of life. Gaelic arts and crafts such as calligraphy, weaving and coracle- making can be seen until 29 August.

l A Celtic international sporting fixture between Scotland and Ireland will take place on 15 November. Sports include shinty (a kind of hockey).

Comments