Kells (Irish: Ceanannas) is a town in County Meath, Ireland. The town lies off
the M3 motorway, 16 km (10 mi) from Navan and 65 km (40 mi) from Dublin. In recent
years Kells has grown greatly with many Dublin commuters moving to the town.
Until the opening of the new motorway in June 2010, Kells stood as a busy junction
town on the old N3 road with over 18,000 vehicles passing through the town each day.
Kells was a renowned traffic bottleneck from both the N3 national primary route (Dublin,
Cavan, Enniskillen and Ballyshannon) and N52 national secondary route (Dundalk, Tullamore
and Nenagh) passing though the town centre.
The monastery at Kells is thought to have been founded around 804 A.D. by monks fleeing
from St Colmcille's Iona monastery to escape Viking invasions.
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 Dublin and the Kells
Crozier, exhibited at the British Museum. The round tower and five large Celtic crosses
can still be viewed today. Four of the crosses are in the churchyard of St Columba's
church. The other Celtic cross was positioned in the middle of a busy crossroads
until an unfortunate accident involving a cumbersome school bus. It now stands in
front of a former courthouse. A roof protects the cross from the elements. Curiously,
a replica is completely safe from the elements inside the museum.
Close by the graveyard of St. Columba's church stands a small stone roofed Oratory
(St. Colmcille's House). This probably dates from the 11th century. Access to the
monks' sleeping accommodation aloft is by ladder. This small rectangular building
is positioned at one of the highest points in the town. The Oratory is kept locked,
but visitor access can be arranged.
Just outside the town of Kells on the road to Oldcastle is the hill of Lloyd, named
after Thomas Lloyd of Enniskillen, who camped a large Williamite army here during
the wars of 1688-91 against the Jacobites. Here also stands an interesting towering
building called the Tower of Lloyd, which is an 18th century lighthouse folly in
the form of a giant Doric column, surmounted by glazed lantern, erected to the memory
of Thomas Taylor, 1st Earl of Bective, by his son. The tower is around 30 m (100
ft) high. From the top one can see magnificent views of the surrounding countryside
as far as the Mourne mountains in County Down, Northern Ireland on a clear day. The
tower was used to view horse racing and the hunt in the nineteenth century. The plaque
on the tower reads: 'This pillar was designed by Henry Aaron Baker Esq. architect
was executed by Mr. Joseph Beck stone cutter Mr. Owen Mc Cabe head mason Mr. Bartle
Reilly overseer Anno 1791'.