Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Archaeology 360: Rathmullan Priory, Co. Donegal

In this, the concluding piece from the Chapple Family’s sojourn in the wonderful county of Donegal, we stopped off at Rathmullan Priory. I would point out that we only got there by accident – we never actually intended to go. We been staying in Buncrana and had decided to head further west to my old stomping grounds around Dunfanaghy and Portnablagh. As I detailed in my previous post [here], I’d managed to escape the clutches of my beach-loving family and spend some time wandering around the secluded ruins of Doe Castle. Well, by the time I returned from the castle, everyone was pretty much exhausted from playing on the beach. We slowly packed up, made our way back to the car, turned on the GPS and headed for home. A well-prepared, thoughtful driver would have been aware of the GPS settings and, perhaps, plotted some way points to ensure that the correct route was followed. I, on the other hand, simply turned it on, set the address for Buncrana and trusted to whatever small gods exist between the lines of code of the GPS algorithm. This is why, about the time I was thinking to myself ‘shouldn’t we have been through Letterkenny by now?’, we found ourselves instead approaching the village of Rathmullan. To our unexpected delight we found that we weren’t too far from our accommodation, at least not ‘as the crow flies’, and that the last leg would be accomplished on a remarkably scenic ferry crossing. How better to spend the time waiting than explore around the ruins of this gorgeous abbey?

Wikipedia tells us [here] that the site was first constructed by Eoghan Rua MacSweeney in 1516 as a Carmelite Friary. It appears to have been inhabited as late as the early 19th century when Bishop Knox, in fear of a French invasion, had it fortified. Unfortunately, when we visited the interior was locked up, limiting our opportunities to explore. All the more reason to come back, I think.

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