Plans are underway to restore the B2 listed building in the grounds of the Long Tower Church, to provide a Columban centre to promote and develop an understanding of the shared heritage and legacy of Colmcille, the founding father of Derry.
The Aras Colmcille project will be housed in the restored “Wee Nuns’ school”, a B2 listed building dating from 1825 with an interesting history of its own. It is the second oldest national school in Derry and was begun before the National Schools’ Act of 1831. It is the oldest surviving purpose–built primary school in the city. It was refurbished in 1894 and functioned as a school until the late 1970s. The school derives its local and affectionate name (the Wee Nuns) from the fact that it was used in the past 50 – 60 years as an infants’ school.
The project will be funded through support from a number of sources including Heritage Lottery Fund, Northern Ireland Tourist Board, Derry City Council and the Diocese of Derry.
A considerable amount of thought and research has been invested into what this project will yield. Numerous interest groups such as historians, the local community, and education bodies have been consulted thoroughly to ensure that the project has visibility and the best support possible. Through this consultation and research the following themes have been established as being central to the Aras Colmcille project:-
· ‘The life of Columba and his links with Derry’
· ‘The early Irish monastic tradition’
· ‘The book of Kells and other illuminated manuscripts’
· ‘The folklore and traditions associated with Columba in Derry and beyond’
· ‘Artefacts and books associated with the Columban connection’
· ‘The Annals’
The Aras Colmcille project will be ready for the celebration of the City of Culture 2013.
Project funded by: