Tuesday, 30 September 2008


The parish of Clonmany, in the north east of the peninsula, includes the two villages, Clonmany (known as The Cross to locals), and Ballyliffen. It is a treasure trove of outstanding beauty, historic landmarks, first class facilities and fascinating folklore. It was once described as the ‘most Irish parish’ and it does epitomise the Irish culture and landscape.

Clonmany has been translated as both “The Meadow of St Maine” and “The Meadow of the Monks”. Although the village itself is the youngest in Inishowen, the Clonmany area is steeped in history, with dolmens, forts and standing stones dotting the landscape. There was a monastery set up in Columban times over 1500 years ago. The site is the three cornered piece of ground between the road and the Dresden laneway. The monastery lands extended from the school heights to the sea. There were two white, pillared stones marking the entrance to the monastery lands (known locally as Adam and Eve). One can still be seen in the school playground and the other was on the opposite side of the road where W. Acheson’s house stands.

Doagh Famine Village
One of the most visited tourist attractions locally is the Doagh famine Village. Pat Doherty, left school at 13 to work in the building trade. When he was travelling around other parts of the country, he noticed that there seemed to be more tourists visiting other areas. After a while, he got fed up with all the driving he was doing and wanted to work nearer home. He combined his interest in heritage with his old family home and set up the Doagh Famine Island Visitor Centre. Since it has started Pat has been adding new attractions every year, and his interest in the local heritage along with what is happening globally is reflected in his exhibits and displays. He is a natural story-teller and the tours are fascinating. His innovative idea of Santa’s lap-land brings tourists to the area in a quieter tourist season and families travel from all over for this magical and festive experience.

Glenevin Waterfall
The spectacular Glenevin waterfall, 2 kilometres from Clonmany is part of a beautiful valley walk that is a credit to local community groups. The walk is well designed and sign posted with picnic areas and footbridges, which lead the adventurer to the wedge shaped waterfall. Fresh mountain water cascades over black rock from an astounding height of thirty feet. The basin below is called Pohl-an-eas (meaning ferment pool) from the foam, which lies on the surface of the pool.


The Clonmany festival is a popular annual event in the village calendar, and has been running over forty years. The festival committee work hard putting on a varied programme of music, workshops, sporting events and fun sessions. The McGlinchey Summer School was set up in 1998 to explore the history and traditions of Inishowen and the North West.

Charles McGlinchey
Charles McGlinchey was a weaver and tailor by trade. He was born in Meentiagh Glen in 1861 and lived most of his long life in his native place. He lived through a time of great social change and observed life in his local environment with a keen eye. He was a natural story-teller and a great wit. In his late eighties, Charles McGlinchey and Patrick Kavanagh, a local schoolmaster of Gaddyduff national school struck up an intimate friendship and Kavanagh patiently transcribed McGlincheys’ stories by longhand. The stories document local life including the famin, poteen, poets, publicans and pilgrimages. They were then edited by Brian Friel into a book, “The Last of the Name”.

McNeill’s Roods
After the Battle of the Boyne, Col. Mc Neill, a Scotch planter, lived at Binion and kept a band of Herdsmen or Yowmen to keep the people down. Any girl he fancied, his herdsmen brought her to Binion and there was great ill feeling over all the girls he wronged. Many people cursed him and vowed vengeance. Any girl who had a baby of his got a rood of land as maintenance. There are many of McNeills "roods" about the parish. One of them is the piece of ground where "Ballyliffin Hotel" is built.

On one occasion he went to the fair of Pollan (June 1709) and tried to seize a girl but she escaped. His way home was over Annaugh Hill, and at a place called "Gallach", some Ardagh men attacked him, and felled him with a stone, and he died from the wounds inflicted. The night after he died, a sidewall in Binion House fell and people said it was the Devil carrying him off. His grave is at the corner of the old Churchyard facing Binion.

Famine Story
During the famine, the English people offered soup and bread to the people of Clonmany on conditions that they would go two Sundays to the Protestant church. The poor people would not turn against their god and preferred to die of starvation rather than part with their faith handed down to them by St. Patrick. One poor woman with fourteen of a family that lived in Straid yielded and agreed to go to the Protestant Church. The second Sunday she went when service was over the minister called her up in front of the pulpit.

She went up and according to the rules of the protestant church it was necessary to cover her with a black cloak in order to make her a perfect Protestant. The woman refused to put on the cloak. The minister asked her why then did she come to church. She replied, “I only came until the new potatoes come.”

The next Sunday the soldiers drove the people of Straid and Gaddyduff and the surrounding townlands into the Protestant Church by force. The minister approached them with a long dish having on it small pieces of common white bread which he called Holy Communion. One big fellow shouted in Irish “Don’t take it from him.” With that the big fellow caught a loaf of bread that was on the dish and struck the minister on the head. An uproar got up. The Minister was tossed and the dish was trampled on. After a furious fight the poor fellows were driven back to their cells badly wounded. But it had the effect that the English soldiers never attempted to convert the people of Clonmany again by force.

Holy Wells
There were different holy wells around the Clonmany area with different folklore attached to them. Colmcille blessed one in Binnion and in Pollan and they were both reputed to heal all kinds of diseases and ills. There is also one at the top of Sliabh Seact. The legend was if any-one muddied the water, a mist would come down, and the traveller would go astray until the mist cleared. The story goes that one unlucky man, muddied and was lost. His people went to look for him in the morning and found him dead in the heather.

Did You Know

It was off Dunaff Head that Wolfe Tone was captured in 1798 by the English and brought to Buncrana and on to Dublin, where he was sentenced to death.

The Urris area to the west of the village of Clonmany was the last bastion of the Irish language in Inishowen.

The monastery at Clonmany was home to the Miosach, a copper and silver shrine, which is now located in the National Museum of Ireland in Dublin.

The first Clonmany festival was to celebrate emigrants’. Much of the spirit was due to the generosity of people at home welcoming home the emigrants from England, Scotland and America.

Poteen was the main industry in the area in the 1800’s

It is said that there is a 'cave' in a field of Mr Bradleys at Cleagh and the fairies come out every night and sing there. If you go down into this cave you go through an underground passage from it to Crossconnell.

The first houses in Clonmany were built round a crossroads, hence the local name of “The Cross”.

The recently restored Market House was built to collect rents and used as a social and commercial centre. Grain, seeds, wool and kelp were bought and sold on the Tuesday and Friday markets up until the mid 60’s.

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