The world famous St Colmcille’s House at Church Lane in Kells has re-opened to the public after being ‘closed’ for almost a year.
Tourists from all over the globe now have access once again to the 10th century structure after local woman, Eileen Morgan-Browne, and her husband Pat agreed to an arrangement with the Office of Public Works to take possession of the key.
According to Ken Murray, Chairman of Kells and District Tourism Network, “this is great news for the town and the thousands of tourists who visit the area every year to trace the story behind the Book of Kells.
“Under the new arrangement, visitors to Kells will have access to the famous house during certain hours of the day once they call in to the Tourist Office, formerly the court house and arrange a meeting time with Eileen and Pat.”
The news of re-opening the gate at the house comes after a period during which visitors had to make a lengthy round trip to gain access.
“Church Lane resident, Angela Carpenter, who for so long acted as the key holder and guide, retired last year and it’s only since she ended her role that locals have really appreciated the fantastic service she provided.”
The key to the gate then came under the supervision of the OPW office in Trim.
This meant that visitors to Kells had to drive to Trim to collect the key, place a €50 deposit, return to Kells and back to Trim, an all-round journey of close on 50 miles.
“We’re delighted this issue has been resolved as plans are underway to improve the tourist experience in Kells,” said Mr Murray.
“Kells and District Tourism Network is currently working with a number of bodies and agencies to develop a new tourist brochure, website and signage plan. All going to plan, the summer of 2020 will see a whole new look to the various heritage monuments and sites in Kells,” he said.
St Colmcille’s House, where the Book of Kells is believed to have been completed, has amazed architects and archaeologists as no mortar was used in its construction. The interlocking water-proof stones in its roof without any supports is regarded as extraordinary for its time.
The house is popular with tourists who visit the Book of Kells at Trinity College and then travel to north Meath to see where it all began.