Betha Choluim Chille ‘The Life of Colum Cille’

  • Middle Irish
  • Irish hagiography
  • Middle Irish
Associated items
Cormac cain buich neoitCormac cain buich neoitEarly Irish poem (2 qq) in praise of Cormac, presumably Cormac mac Airt. It is ascribed to Colum Cille and addressed to Áed, probaby Áed mac Ainmirech.
Is aire charaim DoireIs aire charaim DoireA single Middle Irish quatrain of verse attributed (in prose) to Colum Cille and referring to his foundation at Derry. It is attested in Betha Choluim Chille.


Irish hagiographyIrish hagiography

Irish hagiographyIrish hagiography


Colum Cille
Colum Cille
(fl. 6th century)
founder and abbot of Iona, Kells (Cenandas) and Derry (Daire).

See more


Primary sources Text editions and/or modern translations – in whole or in part – along with publications containing additions and corrections, if known. Diplomatic editions, facsimiles and digital image reproductions of the manuscripts are not always listed here but may be found in entries for the relevant manuscripts. For historical purposes, early editions, transcriptions and translations are not excluded, even if their reliability does not meet modern standards.

[ed.] [tr.] Herbert, Máire, Iona, Kells, and Derry: the history and hagiography of the monastic familia of Columba, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1988.
217–288 Edition and English translation
[ed.] [tr.] Stokes, Whitley [ed. and tr.], “Betha Choluim Chille: On the Life of Saint Columba”, in: Whitley Stokes, Three Middle-Irish homilies on the Lives of saints Patrick, Brigit and Columba, Calcutta, 1877. 89–125, 140.
CELT – edition: <link> CELT – translation: <link> Internet Archive: <link>
Leabhar Breac version, with variants in the notes.
[ed.] [tr.] Stokes, Whitley [ed. and tr.], Lives of saints from the Book of Lismore, Anecdota Oxoniensia, Mediaeval and Modern Series, 5, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1890.
CELT: <link> Internet Archive: <link> Internet Archive: <link>, <link> Internet Archive: <link>
20–33 (text), 168–181 (translation), 299–317 (notes) Book of Lismore version
[ed.] [tr.] Grosjean, Paul [ed. and tr.], “The life of St. Columba from the Edinburgh MS.”, Scottish Gaelic Studies 2 (1927–1928): 111–171.
Text and translation from Gaelic MS XL.
[add.] Grosjean, Paul, “The life of St Columba from the Edinburgh MS. (supplementary note)”, Scottish Gaelic Studies 3 (1929–1931): 84–85.
[tr.] Hennessy, W. Maunsell [tr.], “The old Irish Life of St. Columba: being a discourse on his life and character delivered to the brethren on his festival”, in: William F. Skene, Celtic Scotland: a history of ancient Alban, 3 vols, vol. 2: Church and culture, 2nd ed., Edinburgh: Douglas, 1887. 467–507.
Internet Archive: <link>
Translation based on the Leabhar Breac, collated with the versions in the Book of Lismore and Gaelic MS XL.
[ed.] Dottin, Georges, Manuel d’irlandais moyen, 2 vols, vol. 2, Paris, 1913.
Internet Archive: <link> Internet Archive: <link>
129–131 [id. 28. ‘La mort de saint Columcille.’] Extract from LB, with occasional variants from other MSS.

Secondary sources (select)

Kenney, James F., “Chapter V: The monastic churches: II. The churches of the sixth to ninth centuries; general treatises”, in: James F. Kenney, The sources for the early history of Ireland: an introduction and guide. Volume 1: ecclesiastical, Revised ed., 11, New York: Octagon, 1966. 372–485.
C. A., Dennis Groenewegen
Page created
May 2012, last updated: January 2024