North Sperrins and the Bann

Sperrins view © Alan Sproull

Lying to the east of Derry city is an area of rolling green hills, long sandy beaches and the Sperrins Mountains.

There are strong links between this area and the life and legends of Colmcille, as recorded first by Adomnán, Abbot of Iona 679-704. Adomnán wrote the Life of St Columba - the earliest full surviving account of the saint’s life.

Adomnán mentions the names of very few places in Ireland which were visited by Colmcille but he mentions three in this area.

Adomnán writes that Colmcille returned to Ireland for the Convention of Drum Ceat which took place outside modern day Limavady probably in the 570s. During this visit, the saint was in Camus, south of Coleraine where he predicted the Battle of Dún Ceithirn. He also visited Coleraine, where he was met by the local bishop and accepted gifts from the people of the district.

Getting There

Limavady is a 30 minute drive east of Londonderry on the A2. The first stop on the trail is just south of the town.

 
  • Drum Ceat, Limavady, Ireland.
     

    5.1 Drum Ceat, Limavady

    According to later legend when Colmcille left Ireland it is said that he vowed never again to set foot on Irish soil. However he appears to have returned at least once - for the Convention of Drum Ceat.

  • Giant's Sconce, Sperrins, Ireland.
     

    5.2 Giant’s Sconce

    From the top of the Giant’s Sconce, it is easy to see why it would make a good place to build a fort. There are views in all directions and it is a short distance by land to the River Bann and the sea beyond.

  • St Patrick’s CofI, Coleraine, Sperrins, Ireland.
     

    5.3 St Patrick’s CofI, Coleraine

    The earliest record of Coleraine appears in Adomnán’s Life of St Columba where he mentions that Colmcille stayed with the Bishop of Coleraine on his way home from the Convention of Drum Ceat.

  • Camus, Sperrins, Ireland.
     

    5.4 Camus

    The red sandstone fragment of the early medieval Camus cross now stands in a graveyard which sits on the west side of the River Bann to the south of Coleraine.

  • Ballintemple, Sperrins, Ireland.
     

    5.5 Ballintemple

    It is believed that the first church on this site was founded by St Adomnán (c.628-704), Abbot of the monastery at Iona from 679 to 704 and the author of the 'Life of St Columba'.