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.  Colmcille’s significance has led to him being chosen as one of the three patron saints of Ireland alongside Patrick and Brigid.

Commemorating Colmcille

Statue of Colmcille at Colmcille’s Well, one of the Turas Stations of Gleann Cholm Cille

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

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.  The audit has also been designed to help to highlight conservation works that may be required.

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.

If you know of any places in the study area of Donegal, Derry or Tyrone that has a story of Colmcillle, or if you are part of a local group in the area with any plans or ideas for events or activities at Columban heritage sites we would love to hear from you. Please get in touch through our Contact Form.