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Characters / The Secret of Kells

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Voiced by: Evan McGuire (child); Micheal McGrath (adult)

A bright, imaginative and curious 12-year-old who leads a sheltered life in the Abbey of Kells.

  • Arbitrary Skepticism: When Aisling, a fairy, warns Brendan of a demon-god named Crom Cruach, he dismisses it as "pagan nonsense", even though he quickly recognized Aisling as a fairy.
  • Friend to All Living Things: There's the whole goose scene where he's introduced, where he's very gentle with it once it's caught. He also quickly makes friends with Pangur Ban the cat and later Aisling, a forest sprite.
  • He Is All Grown Up: And has completed the Book of Kells.
  • The Hero: The main character of the film.
  • Idiot Ball: Holds one briefly when Aisling tries to warn him of Crom Cruach. If he doesn't believe in Crom because he's "Pagan nonsense". Then what's Aisling?
  • Innocent Blue Eyes: To show his naiveté (especially from his uncle's POV) and his curious nature.
  • Intergenerational Friendship: Brendan seems to be close to all the Brothers at Kells, some of them being old enough to be his grandfather. The biggest example would be Aidan, who takes Brendan under his wing and teaches him how to become an illuminator.
  • Interspecies Friendship: Between him, a human, and Aisling, a forest fairy.
  • Kindhearted Cat Lover: Forms a close bond with Pangur-Ban.
  • Nephewism: When Brendan was very young, his parents died in a Viking attack. His maternal uncle, Cellach, managed to save Brendan from the same grisly fate, and grafted him into the Abbey as a brother.
  • Nice Guy: Brendan is a polite, honest, and respectful young boy.
  • Prophetic Dreams: A couple of times throughout the movie. Most notably, he dreamed of Iona being sacked by Vikings the night before Brother Aidan arrived and brought news that Iona has fallen to the Northmen. He also dreamed of the Eye of Crom Cruach before he'd even heard of its existence and of being attacked by black tendrils in a fashion similar to how Aisling was later when he went into the cave.
  • Protagonist Title: In the alternative title — "Brendan and the Secret of Kells".

Voiced by: Christen Mooney

A forest fairy and one of the Tuatha De Danann, who lives in the woods outside of Kells.

  • Animal Motifs: Wolves. It's the animal she turns into most often and she's The Leader of a wolf pack.
  • Animorphism: One of her abilities is being able to turn into animals. She mainly turns into a wolf, but the opening shows her as a salmon and a deer as well.
  • Badass Adorable: Is it common to see a cute, petite albino girl lift heavy statues and turn into a fierce wolf?
  • Big Ol' Eyebrows: She has noticeably thick, black eyebrows that aren't even the same color as her hair. This is because she's largely based on director Tomm Moore's younger sister as a child, and she also had thick eyebrows.
  • Bizarre Alien Biology: Her aging process. She doesn't look any older than Brendan and acts as immature as a young child. Though she states that she's been around for a very long time. It's also implied that her kind seems to age rapidly when under physical duress.
  • Blue-and-Orange Morality: She has hints of this. She doesn't seem to have any qualms about threatening a child, then trying to befriend said child afterwards.
  • Breakout Character: She pretty much stole the audience even with the limited screentime she had. Aisling even found her way into ranked 45 in Empire's list of 50 best animated movie characters. She also had the honor of going to the Oscars in 2010 when the film was nominated for Best Animated Feature. Director Tomm Moore says here that he's thought of doing a short film on Aisling (or Pangur Ban), but he's hesitant about it because of people's head-canons.
  • The Cutie: She's probably the sweetest character in the film, especially being the only girl.
  • The Fair Folk: Downplayed; she's nicer than most examples, but she's very protective of her forest and isn't above siccing her wolves on people she views as trespassers. She even threatens to set the wolves on Brendan if he doesn't leave. While Brendan refers to her as a "fairy" in the film, one of the tie-in comics confirms that she's one of the Tuatha De Danann, a race that was portrayed by Christian writers as fairies but were actually the pantheon of Ireland's pre-Christian deities.
  • Friend to All Living Things: She states that the forest is hers, and it's implied that she can communicate with everything in it. She later forms a close friendship with both Brendan and Pangur Ban.
  • Green Thumb: Implied to be one of her abilities. One scene shows her using magic to make small white flowers grow out of solid rock, and after Brendan defeats Crom Cruach, she's nowhere to be seen but there's a trail of those same flowers leading away from the cave.
  • Heroic Neutral: She actively tries driving people away from her forest so they would leave her and her forest alone. However, whenever Brendan is in distress (inside and outside her forest), she's usually the one to rescue him.
  • Holy Burns Evil: More like Holy Burns Pagan, since she's not evil. She cannot tread upon holy ground, preventing her from aiding directly in Brendan's escape from the abbey. This is purely due to her status as a fairy, not a commentary on her moral alignment.
  • Immortal Immaturity: She states herself that she's "lived through many ages", but most of the time she acts as childish as she looks.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: She's more than a bit prickly towards Brendan at first, initially setting her wolves on him and then demanding that he leave her forest, but she soon warms up to him and becomes quite loyal to him afterwards.
  • Last of Their Kind: She's the last of the Tuatha De Danaan. She reveals to Brendan that Crom Cruach was responsible for the destruction of her people, and the tie-in comic centered on her confirms outright that she's the last of them.
  • The Lightfooted: There's a lot of emphasis on how graceful and light-footed she is whenever she moves, even when she's on all fours.
  • Meaningful Name: Aisling has a meaningful name in more than one way: not only is it an Irish girl's name meaning "dream" or "vision", it's also a kind of Irish poetry that frequently features a woman who represents Ireland itself, while calling back to its previous pagan beliefs. In the film, Aisling serves the same purpose.
  • Morphic Resonance: Whenever she changes shape, you can tell it's her thanks to her white colouring and green eyes.
  • Mystical White Hair: She has white hair and, being of The Fair Folk, is definitely magical. According to the tie-in comic, it's a racial trait of all her people.
  • Rapunzel Hair: That reaches all the way to her ankles.
  • Really 700 Years Old: She states outright in the opening that she's "lived through many ages", and decades later, when Brendan is an adult, she looks exactly the same as she did when he was a child. She makes a brief cameo in the movie Song of the Sea, which is set during The '80s, and she certainly doesn't look a thousand years older.
  • Running on All Fours: She occasionally walks or runs on all fours, showing her connection to nature and how wild she is.
  • Shapeshifter Mode Lock: Due to the amount of damages she's taken from Crom Cruach, she's stuck as a wolf. However, by the end of the film, we briefly see her in her Shapeshifter Default Form, implying the lock is wearing off.
  • Super Strength: This petite girl can lift and/or push down statues with ease.
  • Teleportation: Aisling has the ability to appear one place to the next, and she's done this on screen. Though whether it's this or her Super Speed is up for debate.
  • Troll: Shortly after her and Brendan meet, she goes from threatening to a playful jerk.
  • Voluntary Shapeshifting: She's able to turn into a wolf, and the opening narration shows she can at least turn into a deer and a salmon as well.
  • Wall Crawl: She has some kind of magic that allows her to do this, as shown when she scales a high tower so she can free Brendan from it.

    Abbot Cellach
Voiced by: Brendan Gleeson

A former illuminator who now superintends a wall to protect the Abbey of Kells from invasion.

  • Badass Preacher: Bald of Awesome, and an abbot.
  • Bald of Awesome: In the comic prologue, he overpowers and kills a trio of vikings to save Brendan.
  • Control Freak: He's so paranoid about the Northmen that he's overhauled all normal functions of the Abbey in favor of building a defensive wall. Not even the benches in the scriptorium are free from his tight control; when Aidan moves in, Cellach rearranges to make room for his work, but refuses to let Aidan have any say in the layout of his work space. It wouldn't be so bad if his ideas were sound, but often times he ignores good points brought up by others simply because they're being insubordinate and pulls rank to make them stop talking.
    Cellach: "The scriptorium will be arranged according to my instructions."
    Aidan: "But it's not a good—"
    Cellach: "It will be as I say."
  • Cool Uncle: Averted. The Abbott isn't a horrible person, but not exactly "Mr. Warm" even to his own nephew.
  • The Extremist Was Right: Averted horrifically. See Hoist by His Own Petard below.
  • Fatal Flaw: His Control Freak tendencies; by not listening to other people's opinions it makes him unwilling to listen to any reason. His obsession with supporting the wall ends up dooming everyone he tried to protect.
  • Heroic BSoD: He goes through one when he's under the impression that the Northmen killed Brendan.
    Cellach: (lying on the ground, staring at the destroyed scriptorium) I'm so tired... Tang, leave me be... Please... Leave me be.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Non-villainous example. His wall was intended to keep the Northmen out, but it ended up trapping everybody in. Additionally his focus only on the wall and not on the scaffolding meant that when the scaffolding broke — due to so many people trying to escape — there were more people dead than alive.
  • Informed Ability: It's frequently hinted at that he may have been a monk Iona along with Brother Aidan considering that he mentioned, "You were always good at the old drawing, Cellach." Which was said in Cellach's room and as Aidan was observing his wall plans scribbled on his bedroom walls. But in the time since he took Brendan under his protection, he's obviously lost his talent as can be seen for how warped and colourless his dawings were in the present.
  • It's All My Fault: Blames himself for the death of numerous villagers in Kells and the (presumed) death of Brother Aidan and Brendan.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: The Abbott is a stern, no-nonsense man with a stubborn disposition, but in the end he does mean well.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: After realizing that the wall he worked so hard to build only left the people he swore to protect trapped, particularly because he never ever thought to support the scaffolding...
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: His focus on supporting the walls and not the scaffolding means that when the former is destroyed and the latter has numerous people climbing it to escape, it ends up with numerous people dead at his feet.
  • Papa Wolf: The prequel comics shows that he killed vikings to protect his nephew.
  • Perpetual Frowner: Never see him smile once. Until Brendan's return.
  • Pet the Dog: There are several moments showing that despite his cold exterior, Cellach is still a good man and actually has the best interests at heart.
    • When refugees approach Kells after their home is destroyed by the Northmen, Cellach doesn't hesitate to open the gate and give them shelter—explicitly, he does this without regard for whether they're Christian or pagan and no mention is made of converting refugees.
    • He's shown to be working the hardest at finishing the wall.
    • When Brother Tang offers him breakfast, Cellach tells him to give it to Brendan instead.
    • During the siege of Kells, Cellach's first action is to find Brendan.
  • Properly Paranoid: While he can be a bit harsh at times, it's hard to blame him seeing the wave of destruction the Northmen are bringing towards Kells.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: His actions aren't ideal (his actions being working his subjects from day to night and locking Brendan in his room), but his motives are good (his motives being protect Kells from The Northmen).

    Brother Aidan
Voiced by: Mick Lally

A master illuminator, responsible for writing the book of Kells. However, given his advanced aged, he's no longer than man he used to be, and turns to Brendan to help him finish what he started.

  • The Ace: He was considered to be the perfect illuminator, largely due to the fact that he was the Keeper of the Eye of Crom.
  • But Now I Must Go: After traveling with Brendan for over ten years, Aidan eventually passes away due to his old age, but is content knowing that Brendan has finished the Book of Kells.
  • Cool Old Guy: A lot warmer than the Abbott and becomes good friends with Brendan.
  • Famed in Story: There's a lot of stories about Aidan. Some say he has a third eye, others a third arm. Turns out neither one of them are true.
  • Intergenerational Friendship: With Brendan, who's young enough to be his grandson.
  • Kind Hearted Cat Lover: Pangur-Ban was his constant companion throughout his travels. Kind to cats and good with kids too!
  • Manchild: Aidan has clearly not let go of his childish side, despite the fact that he carries the immense burden of loss and responsibility.
  • Mentor Archetype: To Brendan. Aidan teaches Brendan the fine art of illumination so Brendan can complete the Chi Ro page, since Aidan himself is too old to complete the task.
  • Mentor Occupational Hazard: Surprisingly averted. When he and Brendan are confronted by Northmen, Aidan manages to survive the encounter thanks to Aisling scaring them away, and gets to teach Brendan the ways of being an illuminator till the day he dies.
  • Nice Guy: Aidan is easy going, kind, warm, and optimistic.
  • Parental Substitute: He becomes one to Brendan, especially after the two are forced to leave Kells.

Voiced by: N/A

Aidan's pet cat and traveling companion.

  • Amplified Animal Aptitude: She's a smart cat. Her Silent Snarker reactions imply she understands what's being said, and she knows to go to Aisling for help when Brendan is unable to go himself. Whether her knowing to grab a cell key from the Abbot's room and use it on Brendan's cell door is her intelligence or Aisling's guidance is more ambiguous.
  • Cats Are Snarkers: Of the Silent Snarker variety.
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: She really starts to warm off Brendan. Eventually, after Aidan's death, she now travels with an adult Brendan.
  • Meaningful Name: Pangur-Ban is named after the oldest known poem written in the Irish language... which is about a cat with the same name.
  • Really 700 Years Old: Maybe? Pangur-Ban is shown to outlive Aidan and continue to accompany Brendan into his adulthood. That is very long-lived for a cat. Perhaps slipping into the spirit world with Aisling's help made her a bit other-worldly and extended her lifespan?
    • On the other hand, if she was a young cat at the beginning of the story (say a year old or a little less), it's not unreasonable to assume that she lived a roughly normal lifespan. For Pangur Ban to live ten years or more would be unlikely under the circumstances, but still within the realm of possibility. note 
  • The Shadow Knows: Even when transformed into a sprite by Aisling, her shadow remains that of a normal cat.

    The Illuminators
Left to right: Brothers Tang, Leonardo, Assoua, Sergei, Jacques, Friedrich, and Square
Voiced by: Liam Hourican (Brothers Tang and Leonardo), Paul Tylack (Brother Assoua), Paul Young (Brother Square)
A group of Illuminators who also live in the city of Kells and assist Abbot Cellach in building the wall. Several of them are of different ethnicities.
  • Butt-Monkey: All of them provide form of comedy relief. Especially Leonardo.
  • Cool Old Guy: They all keep their knowledge of Brendan assisting Brother Aiden a secret, and even encourage him to continue writing the Book of Kells.
  • Hero Worship: As illuminators themselves, they hold Brother Aiden in very high regard.
  • Intergenerational Friendship: With Brendan. They're all adults while Brendan is only twelve, but they still treat him as a friend and fellow monk.
  • Scary Black Man: Averted. Brother Assoua, who hails from Africa, towers over the rest of the illuminators, but is an incredibly Nice Guy.
  • Sole Survivor: Maybe. The only brother seen after the siege of Kells is Brother Tang, which could imply that the others were killed during the attack.

    The Northmen
Voiced by: Uncredited
The main antagonists of the story.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: While a small squadron of them were mauled to death by Aisling's wolves, it's implied that, not only is their ravaging of Ireland still going, but they get away scot free.
  • Big Bad: They're the main antagonist of the story.
  • Black Speech: The only thing they do say aside from this is "Gold".
  • Blood Knight: Considering the fact that they're vikings, this should be obvious.
  • Catchphrase: GOLD.
  • The Dreaded: Apparently, word of the horrors they've committed travels far.
  • Evil Sounds Deep: Their voices sound deep and guttural.
  • Horny Vikings: Naturally. Combined with their Black Speech and shadowy appearance, their horns make them look more like demons than human beings.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: How one of them tries to finish off Cellach.
  • Karma Houdini: Aside from the small squadron of Northmen that get mauled to death by Aisling's wolves, they as a whole get away with their rampant destruction of Brendan's village and Ireland as a whole.
  • Kick the Dog: Aside from their constant raid and pillaging of Ireland, the leader has a quite literal example. When Pangur-Ban lunges herself at the leader he slaps her away.
  • Knight of Cerebus: Their introduction into Kells shifts the fun-loving, cutesy tone of the movie into a dark and horrific tone. Hell, they provide more of a threat than Crom Cruach.
  • Lack of Empathy: When the leader reads the Book of Iona (a.k.a the Book of Kells), the book that has touched everyone who's read it (even Cellach), his response was to tear out the pages, throw said pages in Aidan's and Brendan's faces and walk off with the gold cover. Though, another possibility is that he just didn't understand Gaelic.
  • Leitmotif: Vikings
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: A good number of them have red eyes.
  • Would Hurt a Child: They openly try to kill Brendan. And it wasn't the first time they've tried to kill him.

    Crom Cruach
Voiced by: N/A
The secondary antagonist of the movie.
  • Autocannibalism: After Brendan puts out its eye, it blindly bites down on its own tail and begins to devour itself, consuming itself into nothingness.
  • Blue-and-Orange Morality: It acts more like an animal rather than a malevolent force.
  • Body to Jewel: When removed, its eyes turn into magical lenses/magnifying glasses of what appears to be cut crystal.
  • The Dreaded: To Aisling, and it's implied that Cellach is afraid of him, too. Or at least afraid of his cult.
  • Eldritch Abomination: It's a giant snake demon/god that consumes everything in sight.
  • Knight of Cerebus: Subverted. He seems like he's going to play a major threat, what with all the build up he's been getting from both Cellach and Aisling. But Brendan kills Crom in under a minute. With chalk.
  • Snakes Are Sinister: He's an Eldritch Abomination in the shape of a snake (or something similar).
  • Villain of Another Story: Of Aisling's story. He's murdered Aisling's entire people, leaving her to be the Last of Her Kind. She even cowers in fear at the mere thought of confronting him.
  • Weaksauce Weakness: For a demon who has killed and eaten Aisling's entire people of magical warrior gods, he sure does get easily beaten by a boy with a chalk.
  • Your Size May Vary: His eye shrinks rather dramatically between appearances. At first, it's nearly as big as Brendan. When next we see it, it's about the size of an apple (it briefly seems to take on a size between these two, but it appears to merely be the way it was thickly wrapped that gave this impression).


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