St Columbanus is widely regarded as the first of the great Irish Christian missionaries to Europe. Unlike his predecessor and (almost) namesake, Columba of Iona, Columbanus undertook exile for life as he set off to bring the particularly Irish form of monasticism to the continent. He was born in Leinster, perhaps somewhere about the year 550, and his adventurous life took him across southern Europe to die eventually in 615 in Bobbio in Northern Italy. He was dominating, austere, determined, occasionally gentle. His is the earliest voice of Christian Ireland, and this is his story.
Kate Tristram lives on Holy Island (Lindisfarne) in the north of England and has long been a historian of the early Celtic church.