A selection of Colmcille-related folklore stories compiled by schoolchildren in Sligo in the 1930s (see: www.duchas.ie/en/tpc/cbes/5192179?con=SL)
School: Rathcormac (roll number 8463)
Location: Rathcormack, Co. Sligo
Teacher: M. Bean Uí Fhéinneadha
There is one holy well in Canatogher and it is known as St. Colmcille’s Well. It is said that he knelt down and blessed this well when crossing the Back Strand. It is on our land – the Currid’s – and there is a nice wall around it to protect it from cattle
Drumcliffee has two old ruins – a round tower whose remains are still to be seen and a monastery whose remains are gone. St. Colmcille built the monastery for himself and his monks when he resided there. He loved Drumcliffee because he says – “Dear to my heart also is Drumcliffee on Cuillen Strand.
The Round Tower of which we are very proud, stands on the side of the Road to Sligo, above the village of Drumclilffee. The top has fallen off it and the stones were used to repair the Drumcliffee Bridge. Still a good bit of it still stands firm and strong as the first day with its little iron gate midway up and its long narrow windows. Old people tell me that the Irish people built close towers to hide themselves and the Sacred vessels from the Robber Danes. Others say they were sort of “outlooks” where the Irish people could see any invaders coming to their shore. There is a tradition about our Tower – we are told that it is going to fall on a Red-haired woman. They say it was built in the Sixth Century.
School: Breachmhaigh (roll number 13222)
Location: Breaghwy, Co. Sligo
Teacher: Tomás Mac Giolla Pheadair
This is how the following was told to me:
Colm Cille one time had to pass Aughorrow. Some children who were playing at some street saw him coming and they said to each other that they would throw stones at him. Colmcille asked a man who was standing near why they were throwing stones at him.
“Oh”, said the man there is a wedding here to day and the bride and groom belong to this place and the children are enjoying themselves”. “My curse on Aughorrow”, said Colmcille and may there be no more than one pair married here for one hundred years”. It is said no pair ever got married here for one hundred years. He went on then till he reached Ballyscannell where he saw a man standing on the road.
“Will this road bring me to Lislary,” asked Colmcille “I don’t know whither it will or not”, said the man “My curse on you and on Ballyscannell and it never be without a fool” said Colmcille. Ever since Ballyscannell is not without a fool. He went on then till he came to Breaghwy. He went into a house there and asked the woman of the house for a bit of bread. She told him he could not eat it as it had fallen into the red ashes. “My curse on Breaghwy and may it never be without Red Ashes”. Ever since Breaghwy is not without red ashes.
He went on then till he came to Attiduff, he went into a house there and saw a Bánnoch of bread at the fire on a fire iron. “Give me a piece of bread” said Comcille “Oh you cant eat it”, said the woman for only one side of it is baked.” My curse onevery woman who moves the bread round before she turns it” It is said that when a woman makes Bannóch of bread in Attiduff her fingers get burned.
He went on till he came to Killmacannon he went into a house there and asked for a Nógín of water. The woman of the house said, the water I have is dirty. “My curse on Killmacannon and that there never be anymore than one well there. Ever since there is only one well in Kilmacannon. He then went on to Raughly and went into a man named Hooks and asked for an apple. “Well”, said the man the apples I have are no good and I will not give you any of them to eat. “Well”, said Colmcille, the day will come when there shall not be anymore than one man named Hooks in this part of Raughly but one”.
That day has come there is only one man named Hooks in the whole part of Raughly. Colmcille went across to Tireragh heartbroken saying “Sin iad bailte na Mallacht”. (Told by Mrs Curran, Breaghwy P.O., from John McGovern, Moneygold)
Location: Ballinphull, Co. Sligo
Teacher: John Gilbride
St Colmcilles well is at Ballyconnell – go there early in the morning if you want to be rid of any malady which may be troubling you – pray ferrently asking Colmcille’s help – throw crumbs of bread into the well – if a small red fish rises and takes the crumbs it is a sign that your prayer will have been heard.
School: Radharc na Mara
Location: Rosses Lower, Co. Sligo
Teacher: Eibhlín Ní Mhaolagáin
The Glass Horseshoe – It is said that St. Columkille passed through Lower Rosses and he gave a glass horse shoe to a family namaed Killerlane and that as long as they would have it they would have wealth but they lent it to somebody and never got it back as now they are as poor as their neighbours. (Ellen Haran, Age 10).
School: Rosses’s Point
Location: Rosses Point, Co. Sligo
Teacher: Seosamh Ó Raighne
St. Colmcille’s Shoe – There was a family in the Lower Rosses of the name Killerlane. After the battle of Cuil Dreimhne St Columcill was very tired so he came across the Back Strand to the Lower Rosses he went into Killerlanes house. they gave him food to eat and cleaned the blood off his hands. When he was going he said that he had no money to give them, but he gave them his shoe and told them it would cure man and beast every morning. 18 1/2 was found in the shoe. One man came and asked the lend of the shoe and they gave it to him, but he never brought it back. The shoe will not cure anyone unless it is in the hands of the Killerlanes. (E. GIllan, Erin Cottage, Rosses Point)