Digital Book Of Kells Celebration

The Nerve Centre hosts a colourful celebration to launch the City of Culture's Digital Book of Kells Initiative

Drumming monks, a Viking boat and the Loch Ness monster all made an appearance at the Nerve Centre this week in a colourful celebration of the City of Culture’s Digital Book of Kells initiative.

More than 900 children and 40 teachers from primary schools across Derry~Londonderry took part in the project, creating a series of animations inspired by the life and legacy of Colmcille.

John Peto, director of education at the Nerve Centre, said: ‘Pupils explored the life and learning of the Columban monasteries, studying Celtic crosses, religious objects and illuminated manuscripts from the 6th and 8th centuries, through a Digital Book of Kells teaching resource.

‘The pupils then created their own digital images and animations bringing to life the Celtic artwork and manuscripts. The quality of their work has been outstanding, so much so that the animations have been used online in recent weeks to promote the upcoming Return of Colmcille spectacular.’

The project took place in new computer suites in 19 primary and special schools across the Derry City Council area, which were installed by the Nerve Centre as part of the City of Culture year.

Digital artists and trainers from the Nerve Centre provided teacher training and specially created curriculum resources to guide teachers through everything from research to final edit, as well as supporting teachers in class.

Orla McDonald, principal of Holy Child Primary School, said: ‘It’s one thing having the technology, another thing knowing how to use it. The team work between the Nerve Centre and the teachers has been critical to the project’s success.

‘One of the most challenging things in schools today is engaging children, keeping up with them, and making learning relevant. This project was definitely something that motivated the children from Day One.’

The Digital Book of Kells is one of a number of educational legacy projects that the Nerve Centre has developed for City of Culture, fusing creative digital technologies with the curriculum and locally relevant content to deliver educational benefits to schools and young people.

As well as key creative digital skills, pupils have gained in self-confidence, decision-making, team work and communication skills. Teachers involved will go on to deliver training to colleagues to embed creative digital skills throughout their schools.

Martin Melarkey, senior cultural programmer at Culture Company, underlined the importance of the initiative: ‘This project really allows us to bring Colmcille into the digital age and ensures that one of the founding fathers of our City is reintroduced to a new generation of learners, inspiring future generations as he inspired so many in the past.’

The project is one of a range of UK City of Culture initiatives celebrating Colmcille, culminating in the Return of Colmcille two-day outdoor spectacle on June 7 and 8.

A suite of digital learning resources highlighting the life and legacy of the iconic figure of Colmcille was also launched recently by CCEA and the Nerve Centre, including an iPhone App, an interactive website, short films exploring the life of Colmcille and a series of free bilingual eBooks.

The animations are available to view at