Saint Columba tourist Camino trail examined

St Columba statue at the foot of the Cross outside St Columba's Church, Long Tower, Derry.
St Columba statue at the foot of the Cross outside St Columba's Church, Long Tower, Derry.

The potential for a new St. Columba tourist trail incorporating dozens of key sites across Derry, Donegal and beyond is currently being pursued.

A total of 72 archeological and historic sites have been identified within the UK and Ireland for the £2m Columba Trail (Slí Cholmcille), set to be developed as a pilot project, with Derry & Strabane Council contributing £400,000.

Gartan Lake

Gartan Lake

A number of project partners are involved in the development of the Connected Cultural Caminos trail, with the local council and its partners Argyll & Bute Council and Foras Na Gaeilge seeking more partners Brittany, Galicia and Asturias.

St Columba, also known as St Colm Cille, was born in Gartan, County Donegal on December 7, 521 AD. To this day, Gartan Clay is traditionally reputed to have healing qualities.

He is credited with having founded the monastic settlements in Derry - close to the site of the Long Tower Church and Aras ColmCille Centre - and on Iona. The Saint also has links to Limavady.

Derry & Strabane’s Business & Culture Committee were told at their May meeting that potential further funding to help develop the project has been identified for the project under an SEUPB’s Atlantic Area Transnational Programme, scheduled to open this month.

The report states: “This will provide sustainable employment opportunities for Culture and Heritage practitioners as well as accommodation and food and drink providers.”