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13/09/18 Commemorating Colmcille


Commemorating Colmcille

St. Colmcille’s Chapel in Gartan outside Letterkenny, an archaeological monument protected under the National Monuments Acts.



Saint Colmcille, also known as Columba from the Latin form of his name, is undoubtedly one of the most important figures in the story of early Christianity in Ireland. He had a lasting influence on the development of the church, not only in Ireland but across Europe. His significance has led to him being chosen as one of the three patron saints of Ireland alongside Patrick and Brigid. 



Commemorating Colmcille 1

St. Colmcille’s holy well in Bíofán, Gleann Cholm Cille forms part of the Turas Cholmcille and is surrounded by a penitential cairn.



Colmcille was born in Gartan, County Donegal in the sixth century. However, the story of Colmcille permeates almost every corner of this region. From the breathtaking western coast of Donegal to the rolling hills of western Tyrone and the vibrant city of Derry, Colmcille’s influence and legacy can still be discovered today. The year 2021 marks the 1,500th anniversary of his birth, and Donegal County Council, Derry City & Strabane District Council and Foras na Gaeilge, with support from The Heritage Council, have appointed Abarta Heritage to carry out an audit of heritage sites, places, archives and objects associated with Colmcille. 



Commemorating Colmcille 2

One of the Stations of Turas Cholmcille, Gleann Cholm Cille.  St. Colmcille’s feast day is celebrated each year on June 9.



The audit will identify and map heritage sites, objects and archives associated with St. Colmcille and his life.  This will range from well-known heritage sites to places associated with St. Colmcille in local folklore and will include objects and archives in national and local repositories.  The research will highlight the links between the Columban material culture and aspects of folklore, folk traditions, language, placenames and intangible cultural heritage which are considerable.  The audit will identify and map the archaeological monuments and protected built heritage associated with St. Colmcille.  It will help to highlight conservation works that may be required to Columban built and archaeological heritage. 



Commemorating Colmcille 3

Raymunterdoney Old Church near Falcarragh is thought to stand on the site of an early medieval monastery associated with Saint Fionán, a contemporary of Colmcille.



This Columban Heritage Project is a wonderful opportunity to create a foundation that will help people to discover and experience the story of Colmcille, and to explore some of the many evocative heritage sites across Counties Donegal, Derry and Tyrone. The project involves researching and visiting many of the sites and places associated with the saint, including sites around Gartan, Glencolmcille, Tory Island and Derry.  The audit will provide essential baseline information for identifying key aspects of Columban cultural heritage, key stakeholders and resources/opportunities for commemoration.  The audit is currently underway and is due to be completed by the end of October 2018.  



Commemorating Colmcille 4

St. Colmcille’s Arch is part of the archaeological complex at Disert in the foothills of the Bluestack Mountains of South Donegal and is protected under the National Monuments Acts.



If you know of any places that have a story of Colmcillle, or if you are part of a local group with any plans or ideas for events or activities at Columban heritage sites we would love to hear from you. Please get in touch with Abarta Heritage at [email protected]  or  (052) 618 9468


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