THE scenic Glencolmcille area of southwest Donegal is one of the top ten most historic sites on the island of Ireland, according to the latest edition of the world renowned publication, National Geographic.
According to the author and regular visitor to the Oideas Gael Irish language centre, Kathleen M Mangan, Glen is up there with Skellig Micheal off the coast of Kerry, when it comes to historical importance.
She wrote that the remote village on the edge of the Atlantic is home to numerous megalithic tombs and early Christian sites, as well as the Folk Village Museum depicting furnished thatched cottages from different eras.
“The best way to learn about the 5,000 years of history here is to attend the week-long archaeology school offered in August by Oideas Gael and led by eminent archaeologist Michael Herity,” she said.
“There are impressive portal dolmens with massive balanced capstones; two monumental court tombs (Cloghanmore and Farranmacbride) dating to approximately 3,000 B.C. with corbelled-roof inner burial chambers and an open-air court surrounded by colossal rock cairns; and 1,000 B.C. promontory forts on coastal headlands. St. Colmcille (known as St. Columba in Scotland) likely lived here in the mid-500s before going on to establish Iona.
“There is a 15-station turas or Christian pilgrim route around the valley that is still performed on his feast day, June 9, nearly 1,500 years later; in the past it was done at midnight barefoot.
It incorporates pagan elements and Celtic art, with a holy well, wishing chair, prayer stones that are passed around the body, and fine carved cross slabs.”