It is claimed that St. Colmcille (Columba) founded a monastery in Drumcliffe ca.575 A.D., although modern scholarship now claims that a monastery was founded much later here.
The village of Drumcliffe (also known as Drumcliff) is famous for its Irish high cross dating to the 9th-10th Century that stands in the grounds of the former abbey. In addition, across the road from the church and high cross is the stump of a round tower.
The Drumcliffe area is where, according to legend, the first legal copyright decision was fought out. The story is as follows: St Colmcille's monks borrowed a valuable Psalter manuscript from St Finianís foundation. When the manuscript was eventually returned, St Finnian -- some say this was St. Finnian of Moville, while others say it was lesser-known St. Finnian of Dromin -- discovered that it had been copied without his permission. An appeal to the High King of Ireland brought the following judgement: ďTo every cow itís calf; to every book itís copy.Ē Feelings being upset, a great battle -- the Battle of Cooldruman -- took place two miles north of Drumcliffe on the slopes of Benbulben Mountain and many -- some say 3000 -- were killed. After gaining victory in battle, Colmcille was filled with remorse. Sent into exile by his confessor (St. Molaise) on Innismurray island, he vowed to leave Ireland to see as many souls converted to Christianity as had died in the bloody battle. Travelling across what is currently Northern Ireland, he went to the Scottish island of Iona and there built a new monastery from where Ireland could not be seen. From there his monks Christianised the Picts (the people of Scotland) and thereby began the great Celtic monastic movement that was to spread across all of Europe.
In addition to the above, the town is known as the final resting place of the poet William Butler Yeats (1865Ė1939), who is buried in the graveyard of St. Columba's Church of Ireland that was built in 1809 using, according to the church's website, stones from old monastery. In addition, parts of a high cross have been found in the walls.
About Drumcliffe (Droim Chliabh)
Journey to Drumcliffe (Droim Chliabh)
Drumcliffe is located on the N15 approximately 7-1/2 miles north of the town of Sligo in County Sligo, Ireland.
Megalthic Ireland: Drumcliffe High Crosses
Round Towers: Drumcliffe Round Tower
Ordnance Survey Map (G6742)
Visitors information for Drumcliffe may be found at the Discover Ireland website. General tourist information for the area may be found on the Sligo Tourism website.
Additional Photos of Drumcliffe (Droim Chliabh)
Drumcliffe Monastery Descriptive Sign
Drumcliffe Monastery Plaque
St. Columba's Church Sign, Drumcliffe
St. Columba's Church, Drumcliffe
ca. 11th Century High Cross, Drumcliffe
Round Tower Built Between 900 and 1200 A.D., Drumcliffe
Ben Bulben from Drumcliffe
Rainbow Over Ben Bulben