Historical Monuments
Historical Monuments
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Historical Monuments

cooley_cross

Cooley Cross Cooley Cross & Skull House, Moville

 

Cooley, situated on good land on a steep hill that overlooks Lough Foyle and Moville is the site of a monastery founded by St. Finian in Patrician times.

 

At what would have been the gates of the old monastery is an unusual monolithic High Cross. Uncarved, the cross contains a pierced ring and a hole, suggesting it may originally have been a more ancient hole stone. It was not unusual for St. Patrick or his contemporaries to consecrate pagan shrines to ease the trauma of conversion, so possibly this cross predates the ecclesiastical foundation.

 

The site contains the ruins of an old church and more unusually, a small rectangular building covered with a stone roof containing human remains, commonly known as “The Skull House”.

 

Although the graveyard is of fairly recent origin the Skull House and the cross (which has been retained in its original location) are the survivors of an earlier tradition and of many attacks including the Vikings.

Northburg Castle, Greencastle

Greencastle or Northburg is rightfully described as “The greatest castle building enterprise in Donegal”.

Built by Richard de Burgh, the Red Earl of Ulster in 1305 on a prominent rock, close to the shore, this awesome building utilised the advanced construction techniques of the Normans and the remarkable use of the natural rock to build a fortress intended to prevent attacks from Scotland and to act as a staging post for the final assault on the heartlands of Gaelic Ulster.

Although devastated by the wages of war and decay of time, this castle in terms of scale and construction compares with the greatest Edwardian castles of Wales; it has even been suggested that it was built by an expert who was involved in the erection of Harlech and Caernarvon Castles (McNeill 1980 p76).

It was captured by the Scots in 1316, during the invasion of Ireland by Edward Bruce. On the defeat of Bruce it reverted to the Earl. The Red Earl’s grandson, William, who succeeded the Earldom in 1328 was at once in conflict with a distant cousin, Walter de Brugh from Connaught. He had Walter arrested and brought to Northburg where he was slowly starved to death. The savegery of this act prompted the Mandeville family on the instigation of Walter’s sister to murder William in 1333.

As there was no one other than a young daughter named Elizabeth to take up the Earldom (and she fled to England along with her mother) Anglo-Norman power in Ulster was brought to a temporary end. The O’Doherty’s (dependents of the O’Donnells) took control of the castle.

 

However, fighting within the O’Donnell clan resulted in a conflict during which help was procured from the Scots and the castle was badly damaged by cannon in the ensuing war.

The castle then fell into the hands of Chichester during the plantation but eventually fell into disuse.

The castle itself should be viewed right up close and especially to the shore-side where the scale can be appreciated.

The rock outcrop upon which part of the walls and towers were constructed offers an unrivalled view of Magilligan Strand on the other side of the Foyle.

Donegal, De Burgh castle, Greencastle
sweat house

Sweat House, Lecamy

The Sweat House remains perfectly intact and is a beehive shaped structure of approximately 7ft in height.

 

It was used in the past as a sort of “Sauna Bath” for the cure of rheumatism and temporary madness, with a turf fire being lit inside to heat the building.

 

When the fire had burned out and the remnants were cleared, the sufferer was placed inside, the opening blocked off and there the patient stayed to “sweat it out”, until he was cured.

 

The exact date of its origin is unknown.

 

Content provided by www.inishowenheritage.ie

 

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