Columbanus Festival 2023 a Great Success

The annual Columbanus Festival to commemorate the life and legacy of Columbanus has been hailed  a great success.  The bell themed programme attracted people from both within and from outside the Borough with over 750 taking part in the weekend programme.

Cormac Bourke

Deborah Girvan, Chairwoman of Friends of Columbanus Bangor said, “The highlight of the Festival was the lecture by Cormac Bourke entitled ‘Early Irish Monastic Bell Revisited‘. He explained how iron and bronze bells that had survived from early medieval times were constructed, where they had been found on the island of Ireland, and how they were used in monastic communities.

Some attendees at the Bill Ring talk and demonstration

Another talk on bell ringing by Colin Holliday, Tower Captain  at St Comgall’s Church on Hamilton Road proved popular as did the Columbanus Cultural Evening with both events exceeding booking expectations. 

Along with the Bell Print Workshop at Seacourt Print Workshop and the Bell Walk, participants had the opportunity to learn more about our local monastic heritage which not only laid the foundations for the city of Bangor but educated and trained many monks who left their mark on Christianity across the British isles and Europe.  In addition to the published programme,  award winning children’s author and storyteller Marianne McShane visited six local Primary Schools to tell the story of Columbanus.   To engage with Ukrainians living in our community, we gave a presentation on Columbanus and his travels and finished off  with teaching them the Norwich Bell Circle Dance.

The Festival ended with a cross-community church service  which was attended by over 220 people at Bangor City Church (formerly First Bangor Presbyterian).   Brother Thierry Marteaux OSB from Holy Cross Abbey, Rostrevor, was the guest speaker and music was provided by Bangor Boys’ Grammar School and St Columbanus’ College, Bangor.  We were humbled by the amount of Christmas food gifts and grocery items which were donated by church goers and these will be distributed by Store House North Down to those in need in our local community. 

I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who supported the Columbanus Festival. I would also like to thank the Department of Communities and Ards and North Down Council for a grant which enabled us to produce the festival. New members are always welcome please contact us if you would like to join or find out more.