The environs of Lough Gartan are one of the supreme beauties of Ireland. St Colmcille was born into a royal family here in 521; his father was from the house of Niall of the Nine Hostages and his mother belonged to the House of Leinster. If you walk over from Glenveagh you’ll pass his birthplace – take the first road right at the first house you see at the end of the mountain track, and you’ll come to a colossal cross marking the spot; the site is also signposted from the road running along the lough’s southern shore. Close by is a slab known as the Flagstone of Loneliness, on which Colmcille used to sleep, thereby endowing the stone with the miraculous power to cure the sorrows of those who also lie upon it, though nowadays it’s bestrewn with coins. During times of mass emigration, people used to come here on the eve of departure in the hope of ridding themselves of homesickness. Archeologically, it’s actually part of a Bronze Age gallery tomb and has over fifty cup marks cut into its surface.
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