This large attractive lake, one of three in the centre of Donegal, is famous for being the birthplace of St. Columba. The area around Gartan Lough also encompasses some of the most beautiful mountain country in Ireland.
A large high cross and a stone with an inscription commemorating Saint Columba's birth in 521 A.D. can be seen alongside the footpath that leads from Glenveagh National Park to Gartan. Other powerful relics of the Saint include the Stone of Loneliness, where St. Columba is believed to have slept, and the Natal Stone, where he supposedly first opened his eyes and gazed upon the world. Some believed in the protective powers of these relics so much so that soil from the Gartan Lough shores was sent off to the trenches with area soldiers in World War I.
St. Columba and the Loch Ness Monster
St. Columba is one of Ireland's most famous saints. Among the many miracles attributed to him are that he warded off the Loch Ness Monster while in Scotland in the 6th Century! According to the the Life of St. Columba by Adomnán, written a century later, St. Columba made a sign of the cross when confronted with the beast, uttered a few holy words, and the monster fled in terror.
The Village nearby also hosts the Columcille Heritage Center, where interpretive exhibits featuring stained glass, manuscripts from the Middle Ages, and other items chronicling the Celtic and Irish Christian religious history take visitors on a journey through St Columba's life and beyond.
Gartan Lough. Image by Julian Conaghan
Saint Columba's Cross. Image by Pauric O'Donnell