Old Church at Teelin Pier

Published: Saturday, 01 September 2018 Written by James

Situated beside the road at Teelin Bay pier are the fragmentary remains of a rectangular church, 7.97m × 4.87m internally. The walls are composed of a double face of very large boulders with pinnings and a core of small stones bonded with red-sand mortar. The interior is littered with collapse and some modern rubbish. The N and S walls, c. 1.2m in maximum height, and W gable c. 0.9m high, are featureless. The E gable, 2.6m at maximum height, has a wide central ragged gap which is probably the site of a window. The gable of a factory shed is built almost flush against it and the wall of another shed hems in the church on the S. A quantity of bones were dug up close to the church in the 1890's, possibly indicating a graveyard (DG096-019001-) no longer visible. The above description was derived from the 'Archaeological Survey of County Donegal. A description of the field antiquities of the County from the Mesolithic Period to the 17th century.' Compiled by: Brian Lacey with Eamon Cody, Claire Cotter, Judy Cuppage, Noel Dunne, Vincent Hurley, Celie O'Rahilly, Paul Walsh and Seán Ó Nualláin (Lifford: Donegal County Council, 1983).

The Coptic Monks

By Joe Gallagher

About 40 years ago, the late Seán Ó h-Eochaidh, Folklorist, gave a Lecture in Coláiste Theilinn in which he told us about the legend of the 2 boatloads of Egyptian Monks who left the Monastery at Rinn na Cille, Teelin, very early in the Christian Period and were never heard of again! That is until the 1940's, when a Professor in Reykjavik University, Einar Ól Sveinnsson, found an old Manuscript with an account of a group of Irish monks, of their voyage from Ireland and a description of the place they left. In 1948 Einar Ól Sveinnsson and Herman Pálsson from Iceland arrived in Carrick and toured Teelin, Sliabh Liag and the surrounding areas with Seán Ó h-Eochaidh and Seán Mac Cuinneagáin O.S. Mín an Aoire. After their travels, the Icelanders were happy to have identified Teelin as the place from which the monks sailed on their wanderings about 400 A.D.! When Einar Ól Sveinnsson returned to Iceland he wrote an account of his travels to Ireland. In 2005 the late Éanna Mac Cuinneagáin had a tri-lingual version of the account published: Camchuairt ar Éireann / Impressions of Ireland.

There are other Sites in Co. Donegal connected with the Ancient Coptic Church:

Killybegs / Na Cealla Beaga are dedicated to St. Catherine of Alexandria!

In Muckros, Cill Chathrach, there is a Holy Well dedicated to St. Antony of Egypt, the founder of Egyptian Monasticism!

On Oiléan Thoraigh we have Teampall na Mór-Sheisear / The Church of the Seven Monks! Patsy Dan Mac Ruairí has the story, (in his version the Monks came from India). Also, there is a Tau Cross on the Island—one of 2 in Ireland!

There is also a ruined church in Dun Disert, Crumlin, Co. Antrim, dedicated to the Seven Monks!

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