PRAYING THE KEEILLS WEEK is usually in May each year – comprising organised opportunities to PRAY THE KEEILLS of the Isle of Man….to discover these places of great peace and beauty …..to sense their unique spirituality ….. to reflect on their place at the heart of our Christian journey … and to deepen our own personal prayer life.
WHAT is a KEEILL?
Keeills are the Christian chapels built on the Isle of Man between the 8th and 12th centuries. The earliest keeills were built of sods of earth and rarely larger than 3 metres by 5 metres internally. Some of the keeills were more substantial – bigger, and built of stone. There may have been almost 200 of them, of which about 35 now have remains that can be seen.
Keeills served a variety of purposes – family chapels, wayside shrines, places of retreat and hermitage. A walled graveyard surrounded some of the keeills and a well may be nearby. Memorial crosses and other decorated stones which were found at some of the keeills have been moved to the present parish churches.
Our Celtic forebears would have described the keeills as “thin places” where we can draw close to God. Prayer and meditation were important to those who worshipped in or around the keeills, as they can be to us.
Praying the Keeills, organised by local churches, is an opportunity to step aside from the business of life, and rediscover what we may have lost.
MAKING IT HAPPEN …
PRAYING THE KEEILLS is organised by representatives of Christian Churches of all denominations. We draw up and publicise each year’s programme of activities. The group benefits greatly from the extensive knowledge of local historian Frank Cowin, who provides expert guidance at the planning stages and accompanies several of the walking groups during Keeills Week itself.
The idea for the first PRAYING THE KEEILLS week in 2006 came from the then Lord Bishop of Sodor and Man, the Rt Rev. Graeme Knowles. Following his move from the Isle of Man the work of the chairman was ably taken over by the Rev Peter Robinson. Peter took a creative lead in the establishment of the children’s competitions and the development of the various publications produced for PRAYING THE KEEILLS.
From 2009 the group has been chaired by the Rev. Leslie Guthrie, who for 23 years was minister of St Andrew’s United Reformed Church in Douglas and is now retired. He has been an enthusiastic member of the Taskforce since joining in October 2007.
If you would like to help the organising group, do get in touch!
ACCESS TO KEEILL SITES
We hope that PRAYING THE KEEILLS WEEKS will inspire you to explore these beautiful, spiritual sites. You might do this alone or with a group of friends, or as a larger parish outing.
When making your plans, can we ask you please to be careful about access to the keeill sites?
Some require permission, as they are on private land, or involve crossing private land to reach the keeill. If you’re in any doubt about your plans, use the CONTACT section to email us and we’ll help wherever possible.
Dogs are great companions when walking – but keeills are sometimes found on farm land heavily populated with sheep and lambs so PLEASE BE AWARE THAT IF YOU’RE BRINGING A DOG WITH YOU, IT WILL BE NECESSARY TO KEEP THEM ON A LEAD AT ALL TIMES – (and please pick up anything they leave behind!) – THANK YOU