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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

          25 townlands


      



                    St

                    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

              da Ath-the corner of the two fords.


              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

              ordinary people.


            

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-organisation resulting from the reform movement

              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.


            


                    Cloncha

                    Church


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


                    Cloncha

                    Cross


through the village to where the church now stands. This was confirmed

              in the last century, when road-workers found human bones in the

              soil while road-widening. Both Catholics and Protestants used the

              graveyard here during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

              Many parish priests of Culdaff in the postconfiscation period were

              buried there.

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

              present day.

As happened in many other areas, the re-building of

              the church effaced not only the older structure but all evidence

              of the early stone-work.

Text taken from, Our Inishowen Heritage

              (by Brian Bonner)