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Monastic Settlement

Monastic Settlement

Originally name Doire Calgach, Derry is one of the oldest continuiosly-inhabited places (with the earliest historical referneces dating back from the sixth century) and is the site of St. Columba’s original monestary, although there is some dispute as to the exact location.

According to the 16th century historian Manus O’ Donell and his text ‘The Life of Colmcille’, the saint was studying in Glasnevin when a plague broke out and all students were sent home. Columba was granted land by his king and despite initial reservations, Columba took advantage of the gift and took to Derry to set up his first (and most-loved, according to some) monastery.

Based East of the Foyle, Columba’s Derry was primarily known as a monastic settlement from the 6th to the 11th centuries. Following Columba’s departure for Iona in 563, the monastic settlement remained in the hands of the federation of Columban churches who regarded Columba as their spiritual mentor.

There also exists, even to this day, a historical trail beginning at the Guildhall following the walls (anticlockwise, with the present-day Magazine Street the possible site of an ancient pilgrimage route). some of the stops along the way include:

 

  1. St. Augustine’s Church -which claims to be the site of both Columba’s original monastery and the first church in Derry, named the Dubh Recles or ‘Black Church’
  2. Long Tower – Site of Derry’s Teampall Mór, the Long Tower contains a collectiin of stained glass windows telling the story of Saint Columba and a facsimile of The Book of Kells, thought to be have been started by Columban monks in Iona).
  3. St. Columb’s Well – according to legend, a child was brought to Columba here for baptism and finding no water nearby, the saint made the sign of the cross over a rock from which water immediately sprang.
  4. St Columb’s Cathedral – housed within this Anglican cathedral is a stained glass window that commemorates Columba in the south-east corner of the Archbishop Alexander Chapel.

 

The city celebrates Saint Columba annually on June 9th, when St. Columb’s Well is decorated with oak leaves and pilgrims (who travel from the Long Tower to the original Well) also wear these oak leaves on their clothing to show their dedication. The Well, now marked with a decorative well that once provided water for all the houses beneath the walls dating back to 1897, is then blessed in recognition of Saint Columba.

Monastic Settlement

St Augustine’s Church

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