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Columbanus Festival 2023: The Columbanus Lecture

Bangor Abbey Parish Centre, Newtownards Road/Abbey Street, Bangor, County Down, BT20 4JP
The Bangor Bell on display in North Down Museum in Bangor City


Part of the Columbanus Festival 24 - 26 November 2023, find out more about the festival here.

A festival of walks, talks, storytelling, poetry, music and song to commemorate the life and legacy of Columbanus.

The theme of bells is chiming through this year's Columbanus Festival.  Monastic bells played an important role in early medieval times to call the monks to prayer or warn of impending danger.  Located in various venues in Bangor, the programme includes Bell Ringing, Bangor Bell Print Workshops, Monastic Bell Lecture, Bangor Bell Walk, Columbanus Cultural Evening and a Columbanus Church Service.


Cormac Burke, a renowned expert on monastic bells, will deliver a lecture entitled 'Early Irish Hand-Bells Revisited.' He will summarise what we know about the dozens of hand-bells of iron and bronze that survive from early medieval (ie pre-Norman) Ireland.

Hand-bells were used from the 5th century in monastic communities and churches and are the oldest continuously transmitted objects that we possess. The products of great technical skill, their distribution is uneven and all the more interesting for that reason. Continuities with Scotland (and to a lesser extent Wales) are striking. This lecture will touch on these topics, as well as on bell making in early Bangor and on modern reinterpretations of ancients bells. Cormac Bourke is from Dublin and lives in Belfast. He is Honorary Editor of the Ulster Journal of Archaeology and a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries. He specialises in the study of early medieval metalwork and has published widely on the subject. His catalogue of early medieval hand-bells from Ireland and Britain was published by the National Museum of Ireland in 2020.

Parking is available at Bangor Abbey Parish Centre which is accessed from Abbey Street.

A light lunch will be served after the lecture.

Guide Prices

Ticket TypeTicket Tariff
Ticket£5.00 per ticket

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