(07.12.2021) DIAS has launched the digitized version of the Cathach of St. Colum Cille to mark the 1500 anniversary of the birth of St Colum Cille, also known as St Columba (AD 521–597). He was a figure greatly revered particularly in his native Ireland and in Scotland where he spent most of his missionary life, but also throughout Continental Europe.
His involvement with literacy and writing is one of the main connections we make with St Colum Cille. He was in the vanguard of the generations of Irish ‘saints and scholars’ to whom we owe treasures such as the Book of Kells, the Book of Durrow and many other priceless Irish manuscripts that adorn many libraries, both here and abroad, and are testament to the early engagement of the Irish with the world beyond their shores.
The oldest surviving manuscript written in Ireland is the Cathach of Colum Cille, a sixth-century psalter or psalm book that has traditionally been associated with the saint. This remarkable but fragile artefact is currently housed in the Library of the Royal Irish Academy on Dublin’s Dawson St. It recently has been digitized in high definition through the Irish Script on Screen Project at the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies (DIAS). This will allow people all over the world to view the Cathach in detail on their computer screens and to admire one of the oldest treasures this country has produced.