Columbanus Festival 2022 – Report 

Columbanus Festival a Great Success 

Deborah Girvan, Rev Andrew Totten and Manuela Bertoncini

The annual Columbanus Festival to commemorate the life and legacy of Columbanus has been hailed as a great success.  With grant funding from the Department of Communities which is administered by Ards and North Down Council, eight events were organised by Friends of Columbanus Bangor between 17-20 November in various locations around Bangor.   

Alderman Deborah Girvan, Chairwoman of Friends of Columbanus Bangor said, “We were delighted at the response from local people and from outside the Borough who attended the events.  We were also pleased to welcome three Italians who had travelled from the Lombardy region of Italy especially to attend the Festival.    

Bangor Drama Club cast of ‘The Enemy Within’

The Festival began with a rehearsed reading of ‘The Enemy Within’ by Brian Friel that was performed by members of Bangor Drama Club.  

The Colombanus Talks opened with a fascinating talk by retired Chaplain Rev Andrew Totten outlining how Columbanus and the traditions of the early Irish Church influences soldiers’ individual spiritual care through their understanding of the doctrine of lifelong repentance.

Talks were also given by Deborah Girvan and our Italian visitors Manuela Bertoncini and Letizia Rovere on the ongoing extensive creative exchanges between Bangor and Italy.

Two calligraphy classes were fully booked and the Columbanus Talks were well attended.  

Mayor Karen Douglas, Eva Kavanagh and Deborah Girvan

The highlight of the Columbanus Festival Concert in Bangor Abbey on Saturday night was the performance by 18-year-old Eva Kavanagh, a soprano from Co Carlow, who received a standing ovation after she had finished her songs.  Bangor Ladies Choir, David Lennon accompanied by guitarist Marcus McAuley, and Ards CCE musicians and dancers gave excellent performances, which were well received by the large audience. 

Mayor Karen Douglas and Ards CCE Musicians

On Sunday, the Columbanus Bell Walk guided tour was fully booked.

In the evening 130 people representing all the main church denominations in Bangor attended the United Church Service at St Comgall’s Church on Brunswick Road.  Musical performances from Bangor Grammar and Columbanus College pupils created a special atmosphere in the church.  

In addition to the published programme, storyteller Marianne McShane visited local Primary Schools to tell the story of Columbanus and how he lived his austere life in the  6th century. 

I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who supported the Columbanus Festival.  I would also like to thank the Friends of Columbanus Bangor team members who helped to organise the events.  

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