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Ráth Cnó, Gartan, birthplace of Colmcille according to Mánas Ó Dónaill

The Folklore of Colmcille, told by Gearóidín Breathnach

Colmcille has a special place in the folklore of Ireland and Scotland. For this reason, Foras na Gaeilge asked the renowned  storyteller Gearóidín Breathnach and LIGID TV Productions to make a series of short videos, Seanchas Cholmcille, as  part of Colmcille 1500. In each video, Gearóidín Breathnach visits a location in Donegal associated with the saint, and she tells a story and local traditions about him:

  1. The birth of Colmcille
  2. Eithne’s Well, Termon and the birthplace of Colmcille
  3. How Colmcille got this name
  4. Ray Cross and the Great Cross.
  5. Colmcille’s Turas and Well in Gartán
  6. How the Leannan River got its name

Subtitles for the videos are available in Irish and Scottish Gaelic and in English, and it is possible to view them without subtitles.

Gearóidín is from a well-known family of  storytellers from Rann na Feiste in West Donegal. She has twice won Corn Uí Riada at Oireachtas na Gaeilge, the most important competition for traditional singing in Irish along with the main prize for story telling. This last prize is named after her father, Neidí Frainc Mac Grianna, who first inspired her love of storytelling. Gearóidín has  spent many years promoting the story telling and traditional singing amoung young people, and has an important place in the traditional singing and music in Donegal.

The signature tune for the series is a piece of the song Ainnir Dheas na gCiabhfolt Donn, sung by Aodh Mac Ruairí, another singer from Rann na Feirste. The verse tells of advice from Colmcille, and it can be heard in its entirety at the beginning of the first video:


Is é ‘dúirt Colm  Cille linn go hIfreann nach dtéid fial

Lucht an tsaibhris go gceileann siad a bpáirt mhór le Dia

’S nach mór an tubaiste d’aon duine a ndearnadh riamh

‘Oiread a chruinniú is a choinneodh as Parthas é.




Colmcille said that the generous do not go to Hell.

The rich deny their affinity with God

What a catastrophe for any one ever made

To gather as much as would keep him from Paradise.

Nhún na nGall
Derry City
Oideas Gael
Museum Nan Eilean
Comunn Eachdraidh Nis
Argyll Bute
colmcille 1500

Bòrd na Gàidhlig

Great Glen House
Leachkin Road
Scotland, IV3 8NW

(+44) 01463 225454


Foras na Gaeilge, 2-6 Queen Street
Northern Ireland

(+44) 028 9089 0970


Foras na Gaeilge, An Chrannóg
Na Doirí Beaga
Gaoth Dobhair
Donegal, Ireland. F92 EYT3

(+353) 074 9560113