6. Drumceatt

5. The Dark Hedges
6th March 2023
7. The Priory of Dungiven
6th March 2023

6. Drumceatt

6. Drumceatt

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6th March 2023

Drumceatt Mound, also known as Mullagh Hill and Daisy Hill, just outside Limavady, is traditionally held to be the site where the great Convention of Drumceatt was held in AD 590.

It was attended by all the petty kings of Ireland and by King Aidan from the Irish colony, the Kingdom of Dalriada, Argyll in the Land of the Picts. St Columba and Aidan travelled from Iona to attend. Aidan received his independence from the High King of Ireland at the Convention and the small colony expanded to become Scotland.


The Convention of Drumceatt

By Jim Hunter

 The Convention of Drumceatt was held at the Mullagh Hill, Limavady in 590 AD. The Convention was summoned by King Aedh (Hugh), the High King of Ireland, to deal with two major problems: the behaviour of the bards and the relationship with the Scottish Kingdom of Dalriada.

The bards had attempted to ridicule the King if he did not give them the Royal Broach, which was handed down from king to king over the centuries. The King was enraged with this demand and with many other offences, and he threatened to evict them from Ireland. The bards, in desperation, invited Colmcille to represent them at the Convention. Colmcille, who had left Ireland for Scotland in 563 AD and had established a monastery on Iona, yearned to return to Ireland and readily agreed to represent them. Aidan, the King of Scottish Dalriada, travelled with the Saint to the Convention to assert his independence from the High King of Ireland. The release of political prisoners was also on the agenda as was the subject of military service for women.

It is claimed that Saint Colmcille traveled blindfolded to Limavady for he had vowed when he departed from Derry in 563 AD that he would not set eyes on Ireland again. Another story tells that he had promised never to set foot on Ireland again so he brought sods with him from Iona, which he strapped to his feet.

Colmcille was treated with considerable respect and all the assembled petty kings and bishops rose up to greet him. Aedh’s wife was filled with jealousy, however, and she ordered her son to insult and maltreat Colmcille and his party. It is said that he turned the Queen and her maid-servant into cranes in view of the fact that they had referred to him as ‘a crane-like cleric’. There is a ford over the Roe not far from Drumceatt called Atha-De-Chor, the Ford of the Cranes, where, it is said, both birds are still to be seen.

Aedh was of the opinion that he would be able to sway the Convention in favour of banishing the bards but he was unaware of Colmcille’s skills of persuasion. The holy man persuaded the Convention to spare the bards but was tasked to frame laws, which would reduce their numbers and abuses in the future.

Aerial photograph of Drumceatt Mound

Aerial photograph of the Mound of Drumceatt.

Equally important was the agenda item on the relationship between the High King of Ireland and the colony of Dalriada. King Aidan had come to Limavady to claim his independence and to be excused from all tributes and military service to the High King. Colmcille defended the desire of the Dalradians for independence and was appointed to draft a treaty of friendship between both nations, which would ensure that the colonists would be freed from taxation and subjection to the High King of Ireland. One of the conditions of the treaty, however, was that either power when called upon would assist each other.

The release of a political prisoner, Scanlon Mor the son of the king of Ossory, was also on the agenda. However, not even Colmcille’s reputation was enough to secure the release of the prisoner and he remained a captive until the death of Aedh in 594. The subject of military service for women was also discussed at Drumceatt. There was increasing concern at the time for the protection and safety of women and children during warfare and it was agreed that in the future women would be exempt from all military duties.

It is said that during Colmcille’s time at Drumceatt, many invalids came from distant parts of the country to seek cures for their ailments. Some pressed to touch his hand or the hem of his garment, whilst others trusted in bread or water blessed by him to restore them to perfect health. A holy well, located within the Roe Valley Country Park, is believed by some to mark the place where the holy man performed many acts of healing. The water from the well is claimed to have healing qualities.



From the A2 bypass at Limavady turn onto the B69 at the roundabout following the signs to the Roe Park Resort. Park at the hotel, walk around it to access a pathway at the rear of the building leading to a brick wall and up a moderate slope. Take a pathway to the right along the edge of the golf course to the Mullagh Hill (100 metres in height), the site of the Convention.

Co-ordinates: 55.0380, -6.9581


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This project is receiving financial support via the District Council Good Relations Programme.