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Gleann Cholm Cille
Civil parish
Gleann Cholm Cille is located in Ireland
Gleann Cholm Cille
Gleann Cholm Cille
Location in Ireland
Coordinates: 54°42′32″N 8°43′34″W / 54.709°N 8.726°W / 54.709; -8.726Coordinates: 54°42′32″N 8°43′34″W / 54.709°N 8.726°W / 54.709; -8.726
Country Ireland
Province Ulster
County County Donegal
Elevation 20 m (70 ft)
Population (2006)
 • Urban 724
Irish Grid Reference G529846
Gleann Cholm Cille is the only official name. The anglicized spellings Glencolumbkille and Glencolmcille no longer have any official status.

Gleann Cholm Cille (anglicized as Glencolumbkille or Glencolmcille)[1] is a coastal district in the southwest Gaeltacht of County Donegal, Ireland. It is also a civil parish in the historic barony of Banagh.[2]

While Gleann Cholm Cille is still an Irish-speaking community, English has been steadily replacing Irish as the main language, with only 34% of the people speaking Irish on a daily basis in 2002.[3] Cashel (Irish: An Caiseal) is the main village in the district.

The name translates into English as "valley of Colm Cille". Saint Colm Cille, or Columba, is one of Ireland's three patron saints (along with Saint Patrick and Saint Brigid). Colm Cille and his followers lived in the valley for a time and the ruins of several of their churches can still be seen there.


A view of Glencolmcille.

Between 4000 and 3000 B.C., farming people settled in the area.

The district was once famous as being the parish of Father James McDyer (1910–1987), who championed the rights of rural people and helped establish community-based industries in the area. A parish council (Comhairle Paróiste Ghleann Cholm Cille) has been functioning in Glencolumbkille since the 1930s, to look after the interests and needs of the residents of Glencolumbkille. Members are elected to this body by the residents of the Glencolumbkille church area; elections are held every three years.

Historic sites[edit]

Four sites make up National Monument #139.

Glencolumbkille Cashel[edit]

54°42′32″N 8°43′20″W / 54.708756°N 8.722247°W / 54.708756; -8.722247 Penitential station, also called Glencolumbkille Turas (Irish for "journey"). Every 9 June the local people go through 15 "stations." It begins at a court cairn, constructed 3000 BC. The pilgrim circles the cairn three times praying, places his/her back to the stone, then renounce the World, the Flesh, and the Devil.[4]

Glencolumbkille Church[edit]

54°39′54″N 8°46′14″W / 54.665009°N 8.770639°W / 54.665009; -8.770639 St Columbkille's holy well is located in Beefan townland.[5]

Malin Beg[edit]

54°39′54″N 8°46′14″W / 54.665009°N 8.770639°W / 54.665009; -8.770639 Church of St Kevin and ringfort.

Malin More[edit]

54°40′57″N 8°43′15″W / 54.682566°N 8.720830°W / 54.682566; -8.720830 Malin More is a portal tomb dated to c. 2000 BC.[6]


Glencolumbkille is home to well known Dublin-born artist Kenneth King, whose works depict naval and merchant shipping, coastline and lighthouses.[note 1]

British composer Sir Arnold Bax made many extended visits there between 1904 and the early 1930s. Apparently, Bax composed much of his music and wrote many of his poems and stories while staying there. He describes the district and its villages, and the life of its inhabitants, in his autobiography Farewell My Youth.

At one end of the little Glen Bay was a wilderness of tumbled black rocks, for some reason named Romantia (a particularly "gentle" – or fairy-haunted place, I was told in Dooey opposite), and upon this grim escarpment the breakers thundered and crashed, flinging up, as from a volcano, towering clouds of dazzling foam which would be hurled inland by the gale to put out the fires in the cottage hearths of Beefan and Garbhros. The savagery of the sea was at times nearly incredible. I have seen a continuous volume of foam sucked, as in a funnel, up the whole six-hundred-foot face of Glen Head, whilst with the wind north-west a like marvel would be visible on the opposite cliff.

There were days when you had to lean hard up against the wind to keep your feet at all... Yet in that unearthly valley there always seemed to be a core of peace in the heart of the most ravening tempest.

—Arnold Bax, Farewell My Youth

Many natural beauty sites lie nearby, such as the Slieve League (Irish: Sliabh Liag) cliffs, The Silver Strand (Irish: An Tráigh Bhán) at Malin Beg (Irish: Málainn Bhig), and Glen Head (Irish: Cionn Ghlinne) itself.

At the centre of one of the largest Gaeltacht areas, the district is well known as the home of Oideas Gael, an Irish-language learning institute established in 1984 to promote the Irish language and culture. The district also has a petrol station, grocer, post office, folk village (named after Father McDyer), woollen mill, hill walking and accommodation centre, restaurant, new "village cafe" and three pubs (often with Irish fiddle music).

Films shot on location in Glencolumbkille include The Railway Station Man, 1992, starring Julie Christie, Donald Sutherland and John Lynch.[7]

Dr. Charles Inglis, first Bishop of Nova Scotia[edit]

Charles Inglis was the son of a Church of Ireland rector of Glencolumbkille. After ordination, he served in New York at the down-town Trinity Church, and later had the distinction of being consecrated at Lambeth Palace as the first Bishop of Nova Scotia, and first Bishop in the British Empire overseas (1787). Bishop Inglis is remembered regularly in the Church of Ireland church at Glencolumbkille each August.

Notable people[edit]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Some of Kenneth King's paintings are on display in the National Maritime Museum of Ireland in Dún Laoghaire


  1. ^ Placenames (Ceantair Ghaeltachta) Order 2004.
  2. ^ "Glencolumbkille". IreAtlas Townlands Database. Retrieved 6 May 2015. 
  3. ^ Glencolmcille Parish Plan.
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^ Glencolmcille at the Internet Movie Database
  8. ^ Photograph of the inscription on the church tower, Glencolumbkille

External links[edit]