Columcille on the Foyle..

According to the statement on the Derry City Council website, “The Inner City Trust River Foyle Project is an attempt to create a haven of peace on the centre of the river which divides the city, where both Catholics and Protestants together can meet and appreciate historic shared Christian heritage.” Hmm.. I’m not entirely convinced we need another reminder of that particular historic heritage on this island.. ANYway.. the centre piece of the regeneration project is to be a 160ft high statue of St Columba in the River Foyle – to cost an estimated £16million. According to the BBC report, Tony Candon of Derry City Council said, “Both [versions of Columba’s name] come from the word meaning a dove, which indicates a man of peace, a man of God.”.. which doesn’t quite match all of the traditional versions of the Life of St. ColumbaFrom the introduction to this version at Utah State University

St. Columba was born on December 7, ca. 521 A.D. to Fedhlimidh and Eithne of the Ui Neill clan in Gartan (Donegal). As a young man, Columba soon took an interest in the church, joined the monastery at Moville, and was ordained a deacon by St. Finnian. After studying with a bard called Gemman, Columba was ordained a priest by Etchen, the bishop of Clonfad. Columba entered the monastery of Mobhi Clarainech, and when disease forced the disbanding of that monastery, Columba went north and founded the church of Derry. Tradition has it that after founding several other monasteries, Columba copied St. Finnian’s psalter without the permission of Finnian, and thus devalued the book. When Finnian took the matter to High King Dermott for judgement, Dermott judged in favor of Finnian, stating “to every cow its calf; to every book its copy” (I am borrowing this quote from Cathach Books in Dublin). Columba refused to hand over the copy, and Dermott forced the issue militarily. Columba’s family and clan defeated Dermott at the battle of Cooldrevny in 561. Tradition further holds that St. Molaisi of Devenish, Columba’s spiritual father, ordered Columba to bring the same number of souls to Christ that he had caused to die as pennance. In 563, Columba landed on Iona with 12 disciples, and founded a new monastery. After founding several more monasteries, confounding the local druids, and participating in another battle (this time against St. Comgall over who owned the church of Colethem), Columba died on June 9, 597.

OK so that’s probably taking the claim too literally.. but I’m not convinced we need another reminder of that “historic shared Christian heritage” on this island.. nevermind one that ignores other historic, or emerging, heritages.. although the exiling does have some modern parallels.. probably best not to mention those though..

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