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. Nearby there are three stone slabs with Christian carvings.
It is said that Colmcille came to Gleann Cholm Cille after the Battle of Cul Dreime in 561 to do penance, feeling responsible for the lives lost. The story goes that he stayed here for two years before leaving Ireland to set up his monastery on the island of Iona off the west coast of Scotland.
The slab of stone on the ground inside the building ruins is called Leaba Cholmcille – Colmcille’s bed.
Pilgrims following the Gleann Cholm Cille turas are asked to lie on this bed and turn over three times. A pinch of clay taken from under the bed is said to protect sailors from drowning and houses against fire.
A niche in the wall usually holds three stones. Pilgrims bless themselves with one of the stones and then pass it clockwise around their body three times. The stones are said to cure eye disease and migraine.
Before they enter, pilgrims circle the chapel site three times, kneeling or genuflecting each time they pass the door. They pray and then enter the ruins.
Each pilgrim who follows the Gleann Cholm Cille turas dedicates their pilgrimage to a particular cause. At this point, pilgrims stand on the Leac na mBonn or Leac na hAchainí – Flagstone of the Request – look down to the glen and declare the intention or focus for their pilgrimage.
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