3.6 Tulach Dubhglaise

Temple Douglas Plaque, Gartan, Ireland © David Neumeyer

Temple Douglas was an ancient monastic site which used to stand on the old road out of Letterkenny, the main route for travellers passing through the area.

Colmcille is said to have been baptised here as a Christian in 521 by his foster father Cruithneachán mac Ceallachán.

It was common practice for the sons of noble families to be fostered as children. Foster fathers were expected to teach their foster-sons riding, marksmanship, swimming and how to play board-games.

Colmcille’s biographer and successor as Abbot of Iona, Adomnán, wrote

"One night St Columba’s foster-father, a priest of admirable life, whose name was Cruithneachán, was returning to his house from church after the office, when he saw the whole house bathed in a bright light, and poised over the face of the sleeping child was a fiery ball of light. He began to tremble, and bowed his face to the ground for he recognised that the grace of the Holy Ghost was poured from heaven upon his foster-son, and he stood in awe."

 Life of St Columba by Adomnán of Iona, Book III Story 2

Although the story of Colmcille being baptised here is often stated as fact, there is no documentary evidence for the link between Tulach Dubhglaise and the saint. Saints are often linked with specific sites, even though there is no particular evidence for the association. These sites often have ancient monuments on them which pre-date the life of the saint.

The church on this site is said to have been rebuilt in the 16th century by Manus O’Donnell on the site of an earlier church.

This site formed part of a medieval pilgrimage route linking the sites in the Gartan area which were associated with the early life of Colmcille.

Temple Douglas, Gartan, Ireland © David Neumeyer

Getting there

Cross the N56 and head south west towards Church Hill. After Drumcavany take a left fork and then go right at the next T-junction. The Temple Douglas site is on your right hand side. There is parking by the graveyard.

You can retrace your steps to the Colmcille Heritage Centre by turning right at the next T-junction where you rejoin the R251.

  • Colmcille Heritage Centre, Gartan Lough, Donegal, Ireland.

    3.1 Colmcille Heritage Centre

    The Colmcille Heritage Centre sits on the shore of Gartan Lough on the edge of Glenveagh National Park. Displays in the centre tell the story of Colmcille’s early years in the Gartan area.

  • Dunadd Fort, Argyll.

    3.2 Leac na Cumha

    This flagstone at Lacknacoo is one of the places where Colmcille’s mother Eithne is said to have given birth to him.

  • Churchtown, Gartan, Donegal, Ireland.

    3.3 Churchtown

    Churchtown - Ráth Cnó - is said to be the place where Colmcille’s family lived. According to tradition they later gave over the land so that a monastic settlement could be created here.

  • Clootie Tree, Gartan, Donegal, Ireland.

    3.4 Doon Fort & Holy Well

    Until the 16th century, the Rock of Doon was the inauguration site of the O’Donnell chieftains.

  • Kilmory Knap Chapel carved graveslabs

    3.5 Kilmacrenan

    This is where Colmcille is said to have lived with his foster father Cruithneachán. There are two parts to the site - the left hand side is linked to Colmcille while the right side is the site of a 19th century Church of Ireland church.

  • Temple Douglas, Donegal, Ireland.

    3.6 Temple Douglas

    Temple Douglas was an ancient monastic site which used to stand on the old road out of Letterkenny and so was on the main route for travellers passing through the area.