In the medieval city, Guild Hall Square was Port na Long – ‘the port of the ships’ on the banks of the Foyle. This is was a main approach to medieval city. It was also the starting point of a medieval pilgrimage described by Manus O’Donnell in 1532, and is the start of our trail today. The Peace Bridge across the Foyle also leads here. The bridge allows good views of the city and is a good approach to the beginning of the pilgrim trail.
From the first station on the banks of the Foyle, the pilgrims walked up the hill. To follow the route today, go through Magazine Gate and past the Tower Museum, which recalls a medieval tower which also overlooked the pilgrim route.
The earliest account of Colmcille’s life, written around 700, tells of monks travelling between Iona and Derry. By the twelfth century, the abbey wrote of Colmcille leaving Derry for exile, followed by the cries of seagulls.
Several recent journeys have left Derry in a traditional curragh recreating Colmcille’s voyage. In medieval times, the Foyle An Feabhal was seen as one stretch of water from Magilligan under Benevenagh to where the Finn and Mourne rivers meet. There was no distinction between the lough and the river.
Great Glen House
Scotland, IV3 8NW
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Foras na Gaeilge, 2-6 Queen Street
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Foras na Gaeilge, An Chrannóg
Na Doirí Beaga
Donegal, Ireland. F92 EYT3
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