The Little Monasteries
Christianity was widely established in Ireland by the 5th century. Probably the most famous of all the scholar-monks in this early period was St Columba, otherwise known as Colum Cille (c.521-597). He was a skilled scribe and lover of poetry, who founded monasteries at Derry (546), Durrow (553), and Iona, Western Scotland (563). The 9th of June is Columba's feast day, and is still celebrated in his native Donegal. In his poem on this regal born saint, the Irish poet and writer Frank O'Connor (Michael O'Donovan) evokes a sense of the loss that Columba may have felt on leaving Ireland, which he did in 563.