Walk virtually in the footsteps of Colmcille

A one hour documentary which will give viewers the chance to virtually walk in the footsteps of Colmcille will be launched tonight. The programme invites the audience on a virtual journey on the Slí Cholmcille which is, in effect, a camino through Donegal and the West of Scotland taking in the sites associated with the saint.

Slí Cholmcille is a collaboration between Líonra Leitir Ceanainn and the Regional Cultural Centre and has been funded by Foras na Gaeilge and Bord na Gaidhlig’s Scéim Deontas Cholmcille 1500 to celebrate the anniversary of Colmcille and to highlight the links between speakers of Irish and Scots Gaelic. Speaking to the Donegal News the programme’s producer, Bairbre Uí Chathail, who is the Irish Language Development Officer for Letterkenny, said a huge amount of work has gone into the project.

“We have been working off a very small budget and people have been so good, it is a testament to people’s generosity. Without the funding it wouldn’t have happened at all.”


She said there is huge potential in developing Slí Cholmcille into an Irish camino similar to the famous Camino de Santiago. Walkers could start off the journey in Glencolmcille, travel up through Donegal, Inishowen and Derry and even on to Scotland.

“This has been an important project for Líonra Leitir Ceanainn and for the Colmcille 1500 anniversary. Our aim is “an Ghaeilge a chur i lár an aonaigh” – putting Irish at the heart of the celebrations,” said Bairbre.

Slí Cholmcille will be premiered on Facebook Live on the Líonra Leitir Ceanainn and Regional Cultural Centre Facebook pages tomorrow at 8pm.
Presenter Caoimhe Ní Chathail is the guide throughout the journey which begins in Gartan where Colmcille – or Criomthann Mac Fhedhlimidh as he was originally called – was born, brought up and received his early schooling.

Proinsias Mac a’Bhaird talks about the early years of Colmcille. Colm Cille literally means dove of the church. Bishop Alan McGuckian explores the idea of pilgrimage. Paul Harrigan of Ceol na Coille wrote three pieces of music for this project and these are performed by Paul, Úna Ní Bhriain and Aobha Ní hAragáin at a number of points on the journey. The programme then moves to Glencolmcille where Ellie Nic Fhionnghaile and Aisling Ní Churraighín play two tunes from the area, Highland Mhín na Croise and Cáilíní Deasa an Ghleanna. Eoghan Ó Curraighín tells us the story of how Colmcille came to the old Glen to chase out demons and Feardorcha Ua hÁrdaigh tells us about the pilgrim trail which has been done in Glencolmcille since the middle ages. Ellie sings a song from the area Eoghainín Ó Ragadáin and Eithne Ní Ghallchobhair gives us a flavour of some of the folklore or béaloideas about the saint with the story of Colmcille and the salmon.
In Drumhome, Pierce Ferriter delves into the history of the foundation of the monastery there by Colmcille’s monks. Dr Brian Lacey explores the role of Colmcille and his monks in the development of the illustrated manuscripts such as the Book of Durrow, the Lindisfarne Gospels and even the Book of Kells.
We travel then to Cnoc na Naomh above Machaire Rabhartaigh where Fr Brian Ó Fearraigh tells us the story about how the hill got its name and how Christianity was brought to Tory. Diane Cannon sings the beautiful song Cnoc na Naomh.

We travel from here to Derry via An Grianán and the Emery Celtic Cross. Derry – Doire Cholmcille – has deep connections with Colmcille and Prof Malachy Ó Néill explores these and the reasons why Colmcille left Ireland for Scotland. Like Colmcille we too stop off en route at Shroove where Roisin McGrory plays two wonderful pieces of music, The Bray Road and Where Aileach Guards .

“Our Slí or Camino draws us back finally to the cross at Gartan and the beautiful piece Leac an Cumha from Paul Harrigan which accompanies a poem Súil Ghlas written and spoken by Proinsias Mac a’Bhaird. As Caoimhe Ní Chathail notes, Colmcille is a challenging, creative, powerful man of faith whose influence extends even into our present day.”

The programme is in Irish and Gaidhlig with English subtitles. The editor was Marty Curran with subtitles by Caoimhe Ní Chathail. Filming by Declan Gallagher, Liam Hirrell, Neil McGrory, Andreas Wolffe, Enda Ferriter and Ruaidhrí Ó Domhnall with additional content provided by The Churches’ Trust, Gareth Wray, Fiachra Mangan, Chris Fitzsimons and The Royal Irish Academy.


The programme can be watched tonight at 8pm  over on the Líonra Leitir Ceanainn Facebook page:

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