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The Secret of Kells (2009)

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A young boy in a remote medieval outpost under siege from barbarian raids is beckoned to adventure when a celebrated master illuminator arrives with an ancient book, brimming with secret wisdom and powers.




(original story), (screenplay)
Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 7 wins & 5 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Evan McGuire ...
Brendan (voice)
Christen Mooney ...
Aisling (voice)
Abbot Cellach (voice)
Mick Lally ...
Aidan (voice)
Liam Hourican ...
Brother Tang / Leonardo (voice) (as Liam Hourrican)
Brother Assoua (voice) (as Paul Tylac)
Michael McGrath ...
Adult Brendan (voice)
Brother Square (voice)
Nora Twomey ...
Additional Voices and Walla (voice)
Alli McCann ...
Additional Voices and Walla (voice)
Clair Funchion ...
Additional Voices and Walla (voice)
Conor O'Halloran ...
Additional Voices and Walla (voice) (as Conor O Halloran)
Gaelle Hersent ...
Additional Voices and Walla (voice)
Marie Thorhauge ...
Additional Voices and Walla (voice)
Additional Voices and Walla (voice)


Young Brendan lives in a remote medieval outpost under siege from barbarian raids. But a new life of adventure beckons when a celebrated master illuminator arrives from the isle of Iona carrying an ancient but unfinished book, brimming with secret wisdom and powers. To help complete the magical book, Brendan has to overcome his deepest fears on a dangerous quest that takes him into the enchanted forest where mythical creatures hide. It is here that he meets the fairy Aisling, a mysterious young wolf-girl, who helps him along the way. But with the barbarians closing in, will Brendan's determination and artistic vision illuminate the darkness and show that enlightenment is the best fortification against evil? Written by GKids

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Turn the darkness into light


Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:




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Release Date:

11 February 2009 (France)  »

Also Known As:

Brendan and the Secret of Kells  »

Box Office


€6,500,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$12,537 (USA) (5 March 2010)


$686,383 (USA) (16 July 2010)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Aisling, the fairy girl, is named after a 17th-century genre of Irish poetry. Aisling is Irish for "dream vision." In an Aisling poem, the poet would describe receiving a vision of the spirit of Ireland, who appeared to him in the form of a beautiful young woman. The female spirit of Ireland would inspire the poet to write about his homeland, and serve as his guide in creating the poem (much as Aisling serves as Brendan's guide in the film). See more »


Aisling: [interrupting him] Is this your cat?
[Brendan screams and falls off rock]
Aisling: *Well?*
Brendan: I've heard about... creatures like you. You're a fairy!
[Aisling gives Pangur Ban a dubious look]
Aisling: What are you doing in my forest? You've come to spoil it, haven't you?
Brendan: Uh...
Aisling: [accusingly] You were probably sent here by your family to get food, weren't you? Well. You can go right back where you came from. If you don't, I'll make the wolves get you. *Rawr!*
Brendan: No! uh, I didn't mean to. Look, I'm sorry alright? I'm not here...
See more »

Crazy Credits

Halfway through the credits, a poem is recited by Aidan (Mick Lally) in Irish. It is a condensed verse of the Old Irish poem 'Mise agus Pangur Bán' rewritten in modern Irish. The translated version of this verse is: Me and white Pangur, Two who relish bundles of art, Me pursuing that which does not come easy, Slippery Pangur hunts prey, Fame or repute I seek not, As I turn ink into glowing light, Little does Pangur value the words of a prophet, He would much prefer a mouse to a book. The verse is followed by Aidan calling to Pangur "Panger, do you see that in the corner!?" followed by him laughing to himself. See more »


Referenced in Song of the Sea (2014) See more »


Aisling Song
Written by Tomm Moore and Bruno Coulais
© Les Armateurs and Passerelle
(P) Les Armateurs and Vivi Film
Performed by Christen Mooney (uncredited)
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

30 March 2009 | by (Ireland) – See all my reviews

The Secret of Kells is a film I've been waiting for for years after seeing some early footage at the Cartoon Saloon in Kilkenny. I'm here to tell you now it's been worth the wait. The cartoons are heavily stylised but not annoyingly so as I'd feared. The whole film is a thing of beauty and great imagination, I particularly love the animated illuminated book where the little figures come to life on the page. The characterisation is superb, I love Brendan Gleeson's voice as the stern Abbot and I especially liked the voice of the sprite Aisling. The forest is a triumph, such a beautiful place. The story is well realised, a mix of fact and fantasy. and really draws the viewer in to cheer on Brendan in his quest for the perfect materials for the Book. I'm a lover of calligraphy and illumination anyway so the subject is close to my heart, but all the people I know who've seen this and are not fans of the craft agree that it's a lovely little film. I will definitely buy the DVD when it's released, and would like to say, well done Cartoon Saloon and all the people involved in this mammoth project. May there be many more. :) Coming back in here to say that I bought several copies of the DVD as soon as I could and gave them out at Christmas, everyone loves it! And I wish them all the luck in the world at the Oscars, such a joy to see this nominated.

64 of 75 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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it all happened so fast!!!!!! physe101
It was pretty and that was it. boczy
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