This week we went to the Colmcille Heritage Centre on the shores of Gartan Lake not far from the village of Churchill.
Of course like many others, we have been to the location many times to walk along the peaceful little track that runs alongside the lake but until this week had never been in the centre itself.
And what a gem it turned out to be!
(Scroll down to see photographs and a map).
Colmcille, sometimes better known as Columba, was born nor far from the centre in 521 AD.
He was of royal lineage and grew to be an an intelligent, artistic, and determined man.
In 1532 Manus O'Donnell wrote in his book 'The Life of Colum Cille':
"The territory of this boy will be on both sides of the water, that is, of the sea; for one part will be in Ireland and the other part in Scotland, and he will spend some of his time in both places. And that was proved true as the Life will show later."
You can learn about this interesting Donegal man at the centre and read more about him HERE.
INTERESTING BITS AND PIECES ABOUT ST. COLMCILLE
The worlds first case of copyright law involved Colmcille.
On hearing his old teacher, Finian of Movilla (County Down) had a acquired from Rome St. Jerome's copy of the Bible, Colmcille went there and secretly copied it. When Finian found out he was furious and demanded Colmcille give it to him. This was refused and they ended up seeking a decision from the High King of Tara, Diarmaid.
Diarmaid ruled for Finian, famously saying:
"To every cow belongs its calf; to every book its copy.”
Needless to say Colmcille was not happy about this and this eventually lead to a bloody battle, 'Battle of the Book—Cúl Dreimhne.' Colmcille won this battle and was able to keep the book, or Psalter, but the death count of the battle, around 3,000 people, played heavily on him and he decided to exile himself from his beloved Ireland.
He set forth sailing from Moville in County Donegal and he kept going until he could no longer see Ireland, landing on the island of Iona off the coast of Scotland. There he set up a monastery which remains a place of pilgramage to this day.
Colmcille died on Iona on the 9th of June 591 AD.
The 9th of June every year is St. Colmcille's Day.
THE LOCH NESS MONSTER
According to St. Adamnan, who wrote about the event some 100 years afterwards, Colmcille had been visiting a Pictish King in 565 AD. The King lived near the mouth of the River Ness in Scotland.
Word reached them that nearby a group of Picts were burying one of their own. The man was said to have been killed by a monster who lived in the river bed there. When Colmcille heard of this he went with some of his monks to the river and asked one of his monks to enter the water.
Upon entering it the monster appeared and Colmcille made the sign of the cross and banished it forevermore to the Loch.
Click on any of the images below to enlarge.
Once you have finished inside the centre why not take a walk along the pathway that runs from the centre along the edge of Gartan Lake? It is a lovely (short) walk with beautiful trees, wild flowers and grasses, and beautiful scenery.
Up the road from the centre, is a woodland walk. To get to it turn right when leaving the centre on to the public road, drive up the hill a little until you see a Coilte wood entrance gate (a low, metal gate painted yellow and black). Inside the gate and to the right you will see a path which you can walk on through the woods. Take care as there are drops and rough bits on the path.
Another short walk can be accessed from further up the road. Park at the chapel there and once again enter the low metal Coilte gate to the left of the chapel. You can walk one of two paths and then reach the Gartan Lake again.
OTHER COLMCILLE SITES NEARBY
OPENING TIMES: Friday, Saturday and Sunday 10am - 5pm (2023 Summertime)
Entry fee: Adults €3, Seniors & Students €2, Children €1.
(Note: the centre is run by volunteers and there is a donation box which you are free to give to but there is absolutely no obligation nor expectation – simply a choice).
Your fee includes
Wheelchair access: Yes (and facilities)
(There is a small mezanine floor which is not accessible).
Parking: Yes (no charge).
Contact: Tel 00353 71 91 37 306
We Love Donegal
We Love Donegal is a site dedicated to bring the beauty of County Donegal on the north west coast of Ireland to the world.