Magic and mystery of Kells Priory

    Ella Hogg and Margaret Murran

    By Jimmy Rhatigan

    Pics: Donal Foley

    WHAT have Washington DC, capital of the United States of America and the quaint and picturesque village of Kells, County Kilkenny got in common?

    You may not find the answer in Irish or American history books but the gospel according to those who should know or simply believe they have the knowledge is that both places have high profile buildings that were designed by James Hoban, a son of Callan, born in 1758 and died in 1831.

    It is not on record that said James designed the White House in Washington but the notion is that he may also have lent his considerable talent to putting together the plans for Kells Priory, long time home to the Church of Ireland clergy of the Kells Group of Parishes that include Ennisnag, Inistioge and Kilmoganny.

    The pity is that the wonderfully elegant old building  cannot talk. If it had such ability then it would surely say yea or nay to our design puzzler.

    Regardless of who was or wasn’t the creator in days of yore, the weekend was an amazing few days of creativity, entertainment, artistry and music as six rooms, upstairs and downstairs, and a hallowed hallway became areas of beauty that showcased magnificent paintings, housed superb music sessions with children, hosted a sale of pre-loved treasures and a sensational exhibition of exceptional paintings, a retrospective of 75 masterpieces by John Flinn, a brilliantly talented artist now in his 80s who lives at the heart of Kells Village.

    Pictures at the Priory, an annual feast day of the arts, is an ecumenical community project that windows work by local artisans and artists.

    It is a platform for beginners and established painters, many of whom, over the years have gone on to artistic fame.

    Browsing a room full of John Flinn paintings, some loaned by those who had purchased them, was an uplifting experience.

    Then there was a fund-raising room full of nearly new things, pre-loved treasures, including Waterford Glass Vases, that raised funds for benefactors St Columba’s Hospital, Thomastown and for the local Group of Parishes.

    Susanne Mulhall, wife of new rector Rev James Mulhall, had a room devoted to a children’s corner that included arts, crafts and stone paintings. That was a big attraction for children who were admitted free.

    Parents contributed €6 for the cause and that earned them a glass of wine, tea or apple juice.

    The exhibition was well attended and quite a few paintings were sold.

    Music teacher Margaret Murrin did a brilliant job of organizing a musical extravaganza as 10 of her pupils played piano, flute and sang a mix of musical compositions, to the delight of visitors who were as cosy as toast as they relaxed and listened to their children or neighbours’ children in very comfortable surrounds.

    Bedrooms were rooms for showing craft workers creating while vino and other delights were poured in the hallway.

    The ambience was delightful, camaraderie was super as guests met old friends and made new ones.

    Amazingly, few if any of the attendance mentioned famous designer Hoban.

    Maybe they were taking it for granted that it was James who had inked the drawings.

    Silence was golden so we are just as wise or unwise as ever as the design conundrum remains a mystery.

    The organising committee was Annabel and Gillian Butler, Charolette Daniels,  Rev James Mulhall, Siobhan Tulloch and Miriam Williams.