Thatched cottages and friendly folk

Glencolumbkille Travel Blog

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Village of Glencolumbkille
The road before us was narrow and untraveled.  Almost as though we were the only people in the entire world.  About an hour or so passed by without anything of special notice to report.  Then Des pulled over to let us take in the view.  We were sitting on a knoll looking down into a valley.  Green grass, white cottages, and beyond was the blue Atlantic.  This was the village of Glencolumbkille; sitting there before me like a picture in a storybook.

The history of Glencolumbkille spans some 5,000 years; back to the Stone Age when the first farmers toiled the land here.  With the coming of Christianity to Ireland from the 5th Century onwards, tradition has it that Columba (521-597 A.D.) established a monastery here and gave his name to the Glen.
Restored thatched cottage
  The present Church of Ireland occupies a prominent position in the valley and around its site are traces of an early Christian settlement.  There can still be seen in Glencolumbkille examples of primitive architecture, most notably in the surviving thatched cottages with their unusual rounded roof.  The thatch is held down by a network of ropes (called sugans) spaced over the thatch and fastened to pins under the eaves and on the gables.  This was obviously necessary to protect the thatch from the cruel west winds that blow in from the Atlantic as there are no trees to block the gale.  Whitewashed and built of stone from surrounding fields, the cottages harmonize with the landscape.  Evidence of agriculture and industry is seen in the remains of numerous barns, mills, lime kilns and a forge.
Out for a walk ....


Blue skies and bright sunshine brought the locals out in numbers, pushing baby strollers, walking up and down the narrow streets, sunbathing in shorts and tank top in treeless front yards.  Des "des"perately wanted to find St. Columba's 5th century monestery and began asking some of the friendly folk if they might know anything about its where-abouts.  It reminded me of a time Jerry and I were traveling to see my sister in Sarasota, Florida.  This was in 1980, before the Skyway Bridge disaster, and we needed to find the bridge to cross Tampa Bay.  We were traveling late and stopped at a late-night Burger King in Tampa to ask directions to the bridge.  WRONG!  No one in the Burger King had even heard of the world-famous bridge and they lived in Tampa!  In Glencolumbkille the situation was very much the same.
John Molloy retired to his home in Glencolumbkille after working in England. "They were good to me," he said.
  No one knew anything about the monestery or could tell us where it might be located.  As it turned out, one elderly gentleman did give us some good information, but we would have had to go across private property and climb up a steep hillside by foot.  No thank you.

We chose to take the loop road right down to the beach and ocean.   The coastline is varied and dramatic with tiny inlets for local fishermen to harbour their boats.  I climbed up on the stone wall that separated the Folk Museum complex from the beach and just savored the moment.  Warm sun on my face and the azure ocean within a stone's throw of where I was standing.  Today the wind was calm and the Atlantic was sleeping; gentle waves lapped onto the sand as if in no hurry to return to the sea.
Stone wall offers little protection from the mighty north Atlantic gales
  This was the same ocean that could unfurl enough fury and power to destroy everything in her path.  But, thankfully, not today.

The museum, of course, had a delightful gift shop and I quickly struck up a conversation with the pretty sales clerk.  She wanted to know if we played instruments or sang.  This was a natural thing to ask; everyone in Ireland is a musician.  She played the fiddle in one of the local pubs several nights a week.  Yes, we sing and dance and play the guitar and piano, just not very well.   We're Irish, too, if only in spirit.  It was easy for me to find something to take home ~ several pieces of Celtic jewelry.  Some for giving and some for keeping.

Time to go.  We had a date with Paddy at Teelin Harbour and couldn't be late.
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Village of Glencolumbkille
Village of Glencolumbkille
Restored thatched cottage
Restored thatched cottage
Out for a walk ....
Out for a walk ....
John Molloy retired to his home in…
John Molloy retired to his home i…
Stone wall offers little protectio…
Stone wall offers little protecti…
Glencolumbkille
photo by: kingelvis14