1.7 Colmcille’s Well

7. Tobar Colm Cille

Tobar Colm Cille - Colmcille’s Well - is surrounded by a large stone cairn. Pilgrims pick up three stones as they walk up the hill and each time they circle the cairn, they throw stone onto it. Pilgrims also drink from the well and often take water away with them.

Many people hold strong beliefs about the healing power of holy water and you can see many offerings left by the well.

After visiting the well, pilgrims head down the north side of the glen. This is called the Mullach na Cainte - the Slope of Conversation. It is the only part of the turas where people are allowed to speak.

The legendary links between Colmcille and Gleann Cholm Cille are outlined in Manus O’Donnell’s Life of Colum Cille written in 1532. The book describes how Colmcille’s life and holiness were predicted by the legendary warrior Finn Mac Cumhaill,

Finn Mac Cumhaill predicted him [Colmcille] the time he let loose his famous dog Bran off after the deer at the river of Senglenn [‘Old glen’] in the territory of Cenél Conaill that is known today as Glencolumbkille. However, the hound wouldn’t pursue the deer across the river into the glen. This astonished everyone, as the dog had never before let its quarry go free. Then Finn had recourse to his wisdom and, speaking through the spirit of prophecy although he didn’t have the faith, he said: ‘A boy will be born in the land to the north and Colum Cille will be his name. He will be the tenth generation after Cormac grandson of Conn and he will be filled with the graces and protection of the God who is One and Three - that is, has been and will be. He will have many monasteries and churches in Ireland and Scotland, and he will bless the land here from this stream and it will be a sanctuary to all who go there for evermore. And it was in his honour that Bran had mercy on the deer and declined to pursue it across the river.’

Turas 7 © Mindie Burgoyne
 
 
   
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    1.1 Straid Court Tomb

    This is the ruined remains of a burial tomb dating from about 3,000BC. It was made and used by farmers who lived in Gleann Cholm Cille. It is pre-Christian but has been incorporated into the Turas Cholmcille pilgrimage trail around the glen.

  • Kilmory Knap Chapel carved graveslabs
     

    1.2 Cross Pillar

    This cross is almost 2 meters tall and is decorated with carved designs on both sides. It is a Christian monument probably made around 700-800AD.

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    1.3 Garvecross Cairn

    Áit na nGlún - The Place of the Knees - is a cairn. To the side there is a flat stone slab with a round stone on top. After circling the cairn, pilgrims pass this smaller stone around their bodies as they pray.

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    1.4 Cross Pillar, Beefan

    Mullach na Croise - Height of the Cross - is a stone pillar carved with the feint outline of a cross. It stands in the centre of a cairn. The cairn and cross are found within the remains of a circular enclosure.

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    1.5 Colmcille's Chapel, Beefan

    According to local tradition, this is the site of Colmcille’s chapel in Gleann Cholm Cille where the saint prayed and worked on illuminated manuscripts. There are also three stone slabs with Christian carvings.

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    1.6 Colmcille’s Chair

    Legend has it that this is where Colmcille sat to rest, looking down at the valley below him. Some claim that a wish made here will come true.

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    1.7 Colmcille’s Well

    Tobar Colm Cille - Colmcille’s Well - is surrounded by a large stone cairn.

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    1.8 Colmcille’s Garden

    Garraí an Turais - the turas field - is also known as Colmcille’s Garden. The area contains a set of three upright stones, two of which are carved with a simple cross. Each stone is surrounded by a cairn and all are enclosed by a stone wall.

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    1.9 Cloch an Aonaigh

    The Stone of the Gathering - Cloch na Aonaigh - is nearly 2 meters tall and faces pilgrims as they arrive across the valley floor. The stone is carved on both sides with circular and linear patterns.

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    1.10 An Fhothair

    This turas station is a cairn with an upright stone slab standing at its centre. The cairn lies in the middle of field. The stone faces east/west and there are views down to the Church of Ireland church.

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    1.11 An Droim Rua

    Turas station 11 is an upright stone in a cairn. The stations at this point of the turas are near each other on either side of the road. It may be that the current road follows the line of an ancient pilgrimage route.

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    1.12 Baile na nDeamhan

    This stone is decorated on both sides with interlocking patterns. The Baile na nDeamhan - village of the demons - is where Colmcille is said to have been attacked by demons.

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    1.13 An Gaineamh

    This stone stands right beside the road. The original was damaged and a fibreglass replica made from the original pieces. It is carved only on one side and faces east/west.

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    1.14 An Caiseal

    This is a tall pillar carved with two circular patterns. Like many of the Christian cross slabs in Gleann Cholm Cille, this may date from the late 7th to 9th century.

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    1.15 An tSráid

    This cross slab is now in two parts with the upper part sitting on the ground to the left of the lower part. It is carved with three complex patterns, linked by a vertical line.