Kells (/ k ɛ LZ /; Irish: Ceanannas ) [2] is a town in County Meath, Ireland.The city is located off the M3 motorway, 16 km (10 mi) from Navan and 65 km (40 mi) from Dublin. It is best known as the site of Kells Abbey, from the Book of Kells is named.


The settlement was originally known by the Irish name Ceannanas orCeannanus , and it is proposed that the name “Kells” developed from that. [3]From the 12th century onwards, the settlement was referred to in English and Anglo-Norman Kenenus, Kenelles, Kenles , Kenlis, Kellis and finally Kells. [3]it has also been suggested that Kenlis and Kells comes from an alternative Irish name, Ceann Lios , which means “[the] head soon.” Kells, Kenlis and Headfort has all the titles taken by the Taylor family.

1929 Ceannanus Mór was the city’s official name in both Irish and English. [3]After the formation of the Irish Free State, a number of cities was named too. Ceanannas has been the official Irish language form of the place name since 1969. [4] In 1993, Kells re-adopted as the city’s official name in English.[5]


Abbey of Kells is believed to have been founded around 804 AD by monks from St Colmcille monastery in Iona who fled the Viking invasions.

1152, the Synod of Kells completed the transition of Colmcille establishment of an abbey to a pin church. A later synod reduced status Kell to it by Parish.After the Norman invasion of Ireland, Hugh de Lacy was granted dominion Meath in 1182. The religious establishments at Kells continued to flourish under their Anglo-Norman lords.

Kells became a border town garrison Pale and was the scene of many battles between Breifne Irish and Hiberno-Normans, who were both heavily marriage. From 1561 to 1800 Kells returned two MPs. During the uprising in 1641, was burned Kells by O’Reilly clan during its attacks on Palestine.

The period of great famine saw the population of Kells drop by 38% as measured by the censuses of 1841 and 1851. Work and fever hospital was described as full to overflowing.

Tourist attractions

  • The Abbey of Kells, with its round tower, is associated with St. Colmcille (also known as Columba), the Book of Kells, now kept at Trinity College in Dublin and Kells Crozier, displayed at the British Museum. The round tower and five large Celtic crosses can still be seen today. Four of the crosses are in the graveyard of St. Columba Church.The second Celtic cross was placed in the middle of a busy crossroads, until an accident with a school bus. It now stands in front of a former courthouse. A roof protects the post from the weather. Curiously, a replica completely safe from the elements inside the museum.
  • Near the cemetery of St. Columba’s Church stands a small stone roof Oratory (St. Colmcille’s house). This is probably from the 11th century.Access to the monks overnight stay aloft is by ladder. This small rectangular building is located at one of the highest points in the city.The oratorio is kept locked, but can be arranged access visitors.
  • Just outside the town of Kells on the road to Oldcastle is Mount Lloyd, named after Thomas Lloyd of Enniskillen, who camped a great Williamite army here during the 1688-1691 war against jakobiterna.Här also stands a towering building called the Tower of Lloyd, who is 18th century lighthouse folly in the form of a giant Doric column, surmounted by glazed lantern, erected in memory of Thomas Taylor, 1st Earl of Bective, by his son. The tower is about 30 m (100 feet) high.The peak offers views of the surrounding landscape as far as the Mourne Mountains in County Down, Northern Ireland on a clear day.The tower used to display the horse racing and hunting in the nineteenth century. The plaque on the tower reads: “This pillar was designed by Henry Aaron Baker, Esq. architect performed by Joseph Beck stone cutter Mr. Owen McCabe master masons Mr. Bartle Reilly monitors Anno 1791 “. The area around the tower has been developed as a community park (People’s Park), and includes the Paupers’ Grave. This cemetery was a necessity in times of great poverty in the country. Mass is still celebrated there annually and the cemetery is a reminder of Work and extreme poverty brought about by changes in agriculture in the 19th century and during the famine.


The population of Kells city (according to the official 2011 Census of Population) amounts to 5,888 people. This represents a slight increase in the population of the census of 2006. There was an increase of 24.8% of the total population between 1996 and 2002.


Until the opening of the new motorway in June 2010, stood Kells as a busy junction town on the old N3 route with over 18,000 vehicles pass through the city every day. Kells was a known traffic bottleneck from both the N3 national primary route (Dublin, Cavan, Enniskillen and Ballymena) and N52 national secondary road (Dundalk, Tullamore and Nenagh) passing through the center. The new M3 motorway, considerably reduces travel time to Dublin, as well as the number of vehicles in the city.

  • The M3 motorway (opened June 2010) and an adjacent toll plaza charges € 1.40 each way. A second duty stations closer to Dublin charging the same amount, which means that the entire M3, costs € 5.20 for a return journey to Dublin.
  • Kells is served by a regular bus service from Bus Éireann which takes about 1.5 hours to Busáras in Dublin.
  • Meath on Track [6] seeking reinstatement of the Navan rail link, and on to Dublin. It is estimated that a Kells to Dublin city center rail link would take about 60 minutes depending on the stop.
  • The original Kells railway station, serving a line between Oldcastle and Drogheda through Navan, opened July 11, 1853. It was closed for passenger April 14th 1958 finally to all traffic on April 1, 1963. [7]


  • The Butcher Boy was recorded at Headfort House
  • Secret of Kells is an Oscar-nominated animated film set in Kells
  • The late Hollywood actress Maureen O’Hara was born in Kells. Her father, Charles came from the city, but Maureen grew up in Dublin.Charles was born in a house at the bottom of Farrell Street in the city, a building that now houses a supermarket, carpet shop and apartments.She visited the city May 26, 2012 to receive the free city and to unveil a bust in his honor.
  • Since 2014 Kells is home to the only Irish independent documentary film festival, the Guth Gafa [8] International Documentary Film Festival.


  • Jim Connell of Crossakiel b. 1852 Kells wrote the socialist anthem “The Red Flag”
  • Dick Farrelly songwriter best known for his song, The “Isle of Innisfree ‘1952 hit for Bing Crosby and theme of the film” The Quiet Man “.
  • Irish Indie band Ham sandwich and Turn


  • Hay Festival Kells is home to Ireland only Hay Festival.

Notable people

  • Damien McGrane B. 1971 professional golfer is a Kells man.
  • Munster Rugby fullback Denis Hurley was born and raised in Kells.

See also

  • Kells, County Antrim, a village in Northern Ireland
  • List of towns and villages in Ireland
  • Market Houses in Ireland


  1. Jump up ^ “Census 2006 – Volume 1 – Population Classified by Area” (PDF). Central Statistics Office Census 2006 reports. Central Statistics Office of Ireland. April 2007. Taken 2011-06-08.
  2. Jump up ^ For most of the 20th century, the city’s official name wasCeanannas Mór . In the late 20th century, the town reverted to the more widely known English version of its name, Kells, and dropped Mór from the Irish version of the name.
  3. ^ Jump up to: abc placental Database of Ireland (see archives)
  4. Jump up ^ Logainm placental database of Ireland (the Irish)
  5. Jump up ^ SI No. 156/1993 – The Local Government (Renaming Urban District) Order, 1993 Irish Statute Book ..
  6. Jump up ^
  7. Jump up ^ “Kells Station” (PDF). Railscot – Irish Railways. Pulled 10/16/2007.
  8. Jump up ^