The Glencolumbkille Turas
The legend of Glencolumbkille tells that Columba either came here to wrestle with his demons, or came here to do spititual battle with the demons already present in the Glen. Whatever the case, it is one of the most interesting early Christian pilgrimage sites surviving in Ireland today.
The pilgrims come to the Glen on June 9th, the feast-day of Columkille, and perform the stations set on a 'turas' around the valley, where a cairn of stones and ancient cross slab represent the stations. The best-known monuments of the Glen are the small cairns of stones, and the many cross-slabs, a form of early high cross which is basically an engraved standing stone. There are some 32 of these in the Glen.
Columba is one of the most interesting figures of the early Christian period in Ireland. He was a Donegal prince, born at Gartan into an important royal family. He chose the spiritual rather than the earthly kingdom at an early age. There are many stories and tales of Columba, who founded many well known monasteries in Ireland.
Columba was responsible for the Battle of Drumcliffe, which was fought over a book, and in which several thousand men were slain. He went to Inishmurray to confess to St Molaise, who banished him from Ireland as pennance. From Inishmurray he left for the Scottish Island of Iona, where he founded one of his most famous monasteries. At Iona, Columba set out to convert as many souls as had been slain at Drumcliffe.
The Glencolumbkille turas involves a good trek and takes several hours to complete. Sometimes it is performed at night, beginning at midnight.