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Kells

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Discover Kells

Visitors to Kells in County Meath are struck by its picturesque, small town vibe and wealth of historical architecture. A stroll about the town today will reveal a variety of shops, restaurants and pubs, but centuries of history also reside within its boundaries. The most celebrated export of Kells is now preserved under high security in Trinity College Dublin. One of the most beautiful books in the world, the Book of Kells is an 8th-century manuscript of the Four Gospels, painted by the monks at the historic Abbey of Kells monastery. A round tower and series of large Celtic crosses can be viewed at the abbey today. Across the road is a small, stone-roofed church, one of the oldest monastic buildings in Ireland Kells remained a centre of religion and learning for more than 700 years, but also gained recognition as an important market town. Most of its buildings were destroyed in the wars of the 17th century and the shape of the present town, with its spacious, tree-lined main street, dates to a planned development in the 18th century. The Augustine priory of Kells is situated alongside King's River beside the town. One of its most striking features is a collection of medieval tower houses spaced at intervals along and within walls which enclose a site of just over three acres. These give the priory the appearance more of a fortress than of a place of worship; their presence has inspired the priory’s local name, Seven Castles. The Kells Heritage Centre is located in a beautifully restored court house and features a multimedia exhibition, gift shop and tourist information office. A permanent exhibition, ‘The Splendour of Ireland’, provides an insight into the crafts and culture of monastic Ireland and makes an excellent starting place for a tour of the town. The Hill of Lloyd nearby, with its lighthouse, park and children’s playground, offers a wonderful view of the surrounding countryside. Kells is not just about history—hungry visitors browsing Kells Farmers Market will find freshly baked breads, dried fruits, nuts, olives, crêpes, fresh coffee, waffles, antiques and craft products. Local food and craft producers are invited to participate, with an emphasis on locally sourced products. The town is also home to Ireland’s only Hay Festival, Hay Festival Kells, that showcases a wealth of artistic talent every summer. Great events, accommodation, pubs, restaurants and convenient access to the Boyne Valley make Kells the perfect place for a weekend away in Ireland.

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