ST COLUMBA’S, DRUNG,
PARISH OF ISKAHEEN
of St Columba's : Priests
of the Parish
St. Columba’s Church, Drung was build in 1871
close to the site of an earlier church and dedicated
on Sunday October 5th 1871 by the Most Re. Dr Kelly,
Bishop of Derry. The Parish Priest was the Rev. Michael
Farnan. The area of Drung was then part of the present
parish of Lower Moville. The contractor’s price
was reputed to be £1100 and £430 was collected
on the day the church was dedicated. The builders were
Messrs Gallagher & Sons, Strand Road, Derry.
The Church is at present closed for
renovation, but will reopen, Easter 2009. Weekend Masses
for the time being are being celebrated in the Community
Centre, Quigley’s Point.
Although the first written reference
to Doire Colmcille does not occur until the 12th century,
there are a number of references in Adamnan's Life of
Columba written a century after the Saint's death, linking
Doire Calgach - as Derry was then called - with the
monks of St Columba. Despite this absence of a direct
link there is a lasting coviction that Columba was the
founder of Derry.
The most familiar account of his life
places the birth of Columba at Gartan in County Donegal
on Thursday the 7th of December in the year 521. His
father was Phelim McFergus, a great grandson of Niall
of the Nine Hostages, and his mother was called Eithne,
from a noble family of Leinster. He was educated at
Kilmacrennan and later at the Monastic School of Moville
near the head of Strangford Lough. From there he passed
on to Clonard where his studies were directed by one
of the major figures of the early Irish church, St Finnian.
Columba was ordained priest by Etchen,
the Bishop of Clonfad, and after a short stay in the
monastery of Glasnevin he returned north and in 546
he founded his first monastery in Doire Calgach (Derry).
The church which he built there came to be known as
the Dubh Regles, the black church, and was long believed
to have stood somewhere in the precincts of the present
Long Tower Church, but modern scholarship would tend
to place it further up the hill in the vicinity of St
Augustine's Church within the walls.
From Derry, Columba travelled all over
Ireland and founded, or was instrumental in founding,
monasteries at Durrow, Kells, Swords, Glen Colmcille,
and Tory Island. Then in 563, Columba and 12 companions
left Ireland and settled on the Island of Iona, near
Mull in the Hebrides, an outpost of the early Irish
settlement of Dalriada in Scotland. The reason for his
departure is uncertain, but the most popular explanation,
and the most likely, is a combination of incidents that
led to the Battle of Cuildremhne in 561.
First Columba had copied a book of
the Gospels belonging to St Finian and King Dermot had
ordered him to hand the copy back. Then, Dermot had
executed a young prince of Connaught who had sought
refuge with Columba after a fatal fight. Columba had
taken offence and had rallied his own people, and with
the help of the Connaught men, he routed King Dermot
at the Battle of Cuildremhne, but the numerous deaths
lost him the good will of many of his supporters, and
after wandering around the country for two years he
assembled his companions and left for Iona.
On Iona he founded another monastery,
and he spent the remainder of his days there, apart
from two short visits to Ireland in 575 and 585, dividing
his time between missionary work among the neighbouring
Picts and study among the manuscripts of his Scriptorium.
He died on 9th June 597, and was buried in Iona, but
precisely where, no one knows.