Its believed St Columba (Colmcille) was born in a small area named Lacknacoo beside Churchtown in Gartan. His birthplace is marked as a monument with a large Celtic Cross standing over the site.
The Celtic Cross at Lacknacoo was raised by Cornelia Adair in 1911 who’s husband was John Adair, the man responsible for the Derryveagh Evictions in 1861. The Adair’s owned the famous Glenveagh Castle which is now a National Park.
Located at the site is the flagstone of loneliness or in Irish, Leac na Cumba. Its believed by some this is where Colmcille’s mother Eithne gave birth to him as described in the story of how this became the birthplace of St Colmba.
This large stone slab is dotted with cup marks similar to ones found at Beltany Stone Circle. Irish Folklore believes the flagstone of loneliness has healing powers and can help overcome sorrow, grief and loneliness and as you can see from the photo people have left coins on the flagstone over the years as the made a wish or said a prayer.
Also at the site is this strange feature, a small stone circle on a mound. Nobody actually knows what the purpose of this small stone circle was but its very similar to one of the many megalithic tombs found all over Ireland. Could the flagstone of loneliness have been once part of the original megalithic structure? Considering how close the two are located it certainly looks that way.
Whether or not this is the birthplace of St Columba this site is still fascinating. At some point in our history this site at Lacknacoo held some great importance to the pagans and Christians. Its well worth the visit if you’re ever in the Gartan area.