Rectory ÷ Inishowen
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The Inishowen Peninsula has been likened to Ireland in miniature with
breathtaking scenery and beautiful, deserted sandy beaches.
The Peninsula is steeped in ancient history, from Stone Age Tomes to
standing stone circles and early Christian Crosses. It is indeed, a
place apart which captivates the imagination and sets it on fire.
The peninsula lies at the extreme northern tip of the country and is
bounded on the East and West respectively by the Foyle and the Swilly.
The parish of Culdaff has a total of 20,000 and 89 acres, divided into
Buadan Church, Culdaff
Here was located an ancient hermitage.
It is a spot of peace and wild beauty. The beat of the waves and
the call of the seabirds are the only sounds which disturb this
haven by the side of the Atlantic.
By the side of the river which drains the valley of Gleneely, and
near the point where it reaches the sea, stands the village of Culdaff.
To this spot many centuries ago came Buadan to seek a place of solitude
and peace. Here he founded a monastery, which became a centre of
culture and missionary activity.
When Buadan came to this place in the distant past he saw a corner
of land located in the loop made by the river. The recess was completely
wooded and the river was at certain places much wider. On the top
of the height now known as Ardmore he cleared the trees and shrubs,
and a crude form of shelter was built. Later a church and other
buildings arose. A distinctive feature of the place was the two
fords located so closely together. The people who lived around had
noted this and gave the place the name which it still bears, Cuil
Buadan was a native of Inis Eoghain and was probably born within
the area now known as the parish of Culdaff. He was educated at
Both Chonais and Bangor and became actively involved in the evangelisation
of his kinsmen in Scotland. Some time in the eighth century he left
Carrowmore with a group of followers. He came to Culdaff and founded
a missionary springboard for his work in Scotland. From here to
the nearest point in Scotland is a mere forty miles.
One can easily imagine the constant flow of traffic from Culdaff
to the west coast of the neighbouring country. Fruitful association
was maintained between the monasteries, the Gaelic rulers and the
In the decline of monasticism in the twelfth century Culdaff continued
as a place of worship for the people of the district. One relic
of the old monastery survived, the Bell of St. Buadan, a ninth century
production. When the re-
in the Irish Church took place, in the early thirteenth century,
Culdaff became a perpetual vicarage subject to the rector of Moville.
The district under the control of the vicar corresponded to the
older monastic areas of both Both Chonais and Buadan.
It is interesting to speculate as to why Culdaff was attached to
Moville. Cloncha had fallen under Columban influence early. It would
seem that Buadan's and Comhghall's maintained their independence.
Moville and Both Chonais had close association with St. Patrick.
Did this mean that these two sites maintained close links in the
succeeding centuries, so that the grouping of Culdaff with Moville
was a natural development ?
Culdaff is mentioned in 136722 and in the Papal documents of the
fifteenth century?3 In 1605 the parish is mentioned in Bishop Montgomery's
Survey?4 There is mention of a stone house here then.
In 1622 the Protestant Bishop of Derry reported that " the
parish church had very good walls standing, fit to be built on but
not covered "?5 The new rector was building a house and later
the church was repaired and made suitable for worship. This report
indicates that after the church and lands had been confiscated from
the Catholics a decade before, the building was allowed to fall
into disuse for a time. Indeed, the new rector had little use for
a place of worship, as he had not a single person of his own religious
persuasion in the area at this time.
Bishop Nicholson, the Protestant ordinary at Derry, found in 1739
that the church was again in a ruinous and decayed state?s He ordered
that the old building be pulled down and a new one built. The episcopal
instructions were carried out and a new church arose on the old
site in 1747. A tower was added in 1828, and the structure has remained
unaltered since that date?
The original graveyard extended from Ardmore, where there are the
remains of the old burial ground, across the road running
through the village to where the church now stands. This was confirmed
in the last century, when road-
soil while road-
graveyard here during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.
Many parish priests of Culdaff in the postconfiscation period were
Of the many religious foundations in the parishes of Culdaff and
Cloncha this site has the unique record of being the only one which
continued as a place of worship from the eighth century until the
As happened in many other areas, the re-
the church effaced not only the older structure but all evidence
of the early stone-
Text taken from, Our Inishowen Heritage
(by Brian Bonner)