Sunday, 3 August 2008


Culdaff beach


“Letting the jackdaws loose in the class was a real giggle, although Ms O’kane, the teacher, didn’t think so at the time”
Patsie McLaughlin from Gleneely reminiscing about his school days

“Everyone in Culdaff is delighted to see the Blue Flag return to the beach” Sean Beattie- author and historian


Gleneely and Culdaff are both attractions in Inishowen but for different reasons. The picturesque and lively village of Culdaff is a place where tourists and locals flock to on a sunny day. There is nothing like soaking up the rays on the fabulous Blue Flag beach and making good use of the local shops, restaurants and bars. Gleneely is more inland so people who visit go for the hill walking and the fascinating array of old standing stones and areas of national historical importance. The beautiful areas surrounding Culdaff and Gleneely are also perfect for fishing, both in the rivers and sea.


Charles Macklin was a man who left his troubled native land of Inishowen to make his name abroad. He found fame as actor, author and theatre manager. Through his long and turbulent career he retained a great love for his homeland. Some of his works include: King Henry VII (1746) (also called The Popish Imposter), The True Born Irishman and The Man of the World.

Brian Bonner. Author who’s books include: Our Inis Eoghain Heritage, Where Aileach Guards and That Audacious Traitor.

Sean Beattie. Writer, historian and in charge of the Donegal annual There are over 500 articles on Donegal history in Donegal Annual a superb source for Donegal Research. journal first published in 1947. His excellent books include: Book of Inistrahull Ancient Monuments of Inishowen Thomas d'Arcy McGee Commemoratio

Bernard McGuinness- The Fine Gael Councellor was recently elected chairperson of Inishowen Electoral Area Committee. He was the first local councillor to speak out against the proposed reduction of services at Malin Head Coast Guard station.

The area around Gleneely and Culdaff is steeped in ancient history, from Stone Age tombs to standing stone circles and early Christian Crosses. It is indeed, a place apart which captivates the imagination.
St. Buadan, a native of Inis Eoghain, came up the river from Gleneely to Culdaff to seek a place of solitude and peace. Here he founded a monastery, which became a centre of culture and missionary activity between Inishowen and Scotland.

When Buadan came to Culdaff it was completely wooded and the river was at certain places much wider. On the top of the height now known as Ardmore he cleared the trees and shrubs, and a crude form of shelter was built. Later a church and other buildings appeared. A distinctive feature was the two fords located so closely together. The people who lived around had noted this and gave the place the name, which it still bears, Cuil da Ath-the corner of the two fords.

A holy well (turas) dedicated to St. Buadan existed until recently, and carved steps still remain at the river bank. On the other side of the bridge on the Bunagee Road a curious curragh shaped rock lies in the river. This freestanding rock, called St. Buadan's Boat, was the means of conveyance used by Buadan after being expelled from Iona (in Scotland). The rock upon which he stood, so the legend goes, fell into the water and miraculously floated transporting him safely back to Culdaff.


Charles Macklin festival - On the 10th –12th of October the Charles Macklin School in Culdaff are holding workshops, plays, poetry, readings and exhibitions. The actor John Nee and renound musician Cara Dill will also be giving a concert. The event has been running for 18 years and to mark its success a book has just been published, called Mac Poems. One Sunday there will be lectures on the importance of the Doherty clan in Inishowen and commemorating the 400 years since Cahir O’Doherty rebelled against Derry in 1608

Scoil Mhuire school reunion in Gleneely - The school held its first ever school reunion dinner dance last Friday. Past pupils from all over Ireland and as far afield as England, Scotland and the United States turned up for the exciting event. They are also gathering photographs and memories from past pupils and members of staff for publication in a commemorative magazine. Anyone with school photos from before 1990 is encouraged to contact the committee

Climbfest is held every spring in Culdaff. There are several hundred single pitch climbing routes, mainly in the middle grades all local to Culdaff and Gleneely, at Dunmore Head, Dunowen, Kinnego Bay, Galavoir, Warm Bay Point, Malin Head and Port a Doris. Walking is also very popular around the area. Free camping is available at Bunagee for the Climbfest.

Water- Up until the 1950’s, the whole of the Gleneely residents had to collect their water out of one well At a place called Greens Field.

Surfing. The Blue Flag beach at Culdaff is one of the best places in Ireland to catch the waves and there is professional tuition for the novice.

McGrorys for live music. Irelands most northerly live music venue in the Back Room Bar. You don’t have to travel far for a holiday…

Blue flag beach at Culdaff. It’s back again…

School facts- The current Scoil Mhuire building in Gleneely dates from 1961 and it amalgamated with the old Ballyharry School in 1968. However, the old school in Gleneely dates back to the 1840s when, according to Brian Bonner’s history of Inishowen, there were 335 students on the rolls. Today, it’s a smaller school with some 69 pupils,


Patsie McLaughlin

I was born and reared in Gleneely and went to the Old School just before Scoil Mhuire was built, in fact I remember carrying our desks and chairs over to the new building. We lived in the farm in the village and Eamon McLaughlin and myself would nip home every lunchtime with a tin to get some fresh milk – for the teachers, the pupils never got any… Miss Okane (we called her Pepper duster) liked to take some home with her and we would leave a tin next to her car. We would intentionally leave it under the wheel and she usually ran over it forgetting it was there. We looked on behind the wall laughing.

Local man, John Duffy was cleaning his chimney one day and two jackdaws came down, so Eamon and I tied string to their legs and walked to the school with them. As we got to the classroom we let them go. There was a real commotion as Pepper Duster got covered in soot as she tried in vain to catch them.

There have been a lot of changes in the village since the 1940’s. It used to be a thriving place with loads of facilities. There was the bottle store, 3 shops, three pubs and a general merchant called Dennis Faulkner. Then there was the blacksmith and John the butcher, who used to slaughter animals for the farmers. I also remember Frank Griffin the barber, he would work with the bowl on the top of your head. There was also an oil store next to the Orchard Bar, a bakers, Garda barracks and an undertaker, so as you see we were short of nothing. There are still good thing happening in the village. Just recently the new sports centre opened. Loads of money was raised locally to make it happen.


Cloncha Cross – Culdaff. This stone cross stands three metres tall. There are four main panels. The lowest panel consists of two animal figures both of which have their heads at the end of the looped ribbon design. Tails are also shown. The animals appear to have broad snouts and pointed ears. The two centre panels have a fretwork pattern and uneven double-ribbon design. The top panel has a scene from the New Testament, the Miracle of the Loaves and Fishes.

Decorated Grave Slab, Cloncha Church – Culdaff. This decorated grave slab has very attractive and elaborate carvings - is situated at the old church within the graveyard. A number of decorations are clearly visible; sword, foliage, cross, hurley and ball. The stone is of local origin and the Scots-Gaelic inscription reads: Fergus Mac Allan made this stone.

Bocan Stone Circle- Culdaff. Bocan Stone Circle, when seen from afar appears insignificant, lost almost, behind trees and dwarfed by more modern structures, but it is only when viewed up close that its full glory comes to life. Situated on good pastureland on the hill of Bocan, Sliabh Snaght to Trawbrega Bay right to Glengad is visible.

This magnificent view with Culdaff and Bocan chapel just below is impressive especially if seen at sunrise or sunset. . The stone circle also had an astronomical function and was used to decide when one season began and another ended. When the sun shone directly on certain stones, early farmers knew that one season had ended and another was about to begin.

Temple of Deen: Culdaff. Just across the main road from Bocan Stone Circle is the “Temple of Deen.” A wedge-tomb, it appears to have been covered with a cairn of small boulders, which means that the structure remaining would have been only the centre chamber of a huge monument.

Cloncha – Culdaff. Situated just below the Hill of Deen, Cloncha is the site of one of the most important foundations in the development of Christianity in Inishowen. It was a significant centre from the sixth century onwards, favoured by bishops as a final resting place. The glory of Cloncha is surely the striking high cross in the field just beside the church standing four metres tall. Only one cross now stands upright, another lies fallen, in the same field.


Anonymous said...

Well done for all this info....

well done to all concerned for all the updates and information contained...we know the areas well as we are a foreign family who own a holiday home there...pity that all important places/crosses/monsatry/etc are not clearly road marked properly on area street suggest for national web sites to feature culdaff more....

tab said...

My mother went to the old, old school where her mother taught, Mrs. Elizabeth Cummings. Does anyone know if the old building is still there in 2012?

Anonymous said...

Yes, the school building is still there.

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