The ancient
Mound of Drumceat

The mound of Drumceat in Limavady

The mound of Drumceat
Grid reference C666217 

This famous old mound lies in the grounds of a hotel  just outside the town and seems to be fairly unpopular with tired golfers, whom the amused onlooker can watch struggling over the rough ground from the comforts of the bar. But in days of yore, this overgrown golfing hazard was the scene of an important event in Irish history.

In the year 573 a great convention was called by Aedh, son of Ainmire, King of Ireland - also known as  king  Hugh the Second - to decide on various important issues. The two most important of these were the question of what to do with the bards - who had abused their many privileges in time-honoured fashion and hence had become a pain in the royal neck - and to consider the request of the Scottish colony of Dalriada or Scotia minor (Ireland then was known as Scotia  major) for financial independence. The king wanted to get rid of the bards and  - if at all possible - retain the yearly taxes from Scotland.

The Scottish colony of Dalriada had been wrested from the Picts - a fierce and colourful tribe who inhabited Scotland in those days. St Columba - the spiritual leader of the proto-Scots - who had founded the monastery of Iona, was persuaded to lead the Scottish delegation and argue their case at the great Convention of Drumceat. Earlier in his life he had been held indirectly responsible for the death of a few thousand men who died in battle, and he had made a vow to convert the same number of heathens to Christianity and never set eyes upon Ireland ever again. The problems caused by this hasty vow were overcome with a certain amount of mental ingenuity and the use of a white - vision-obscuring - headscarf .  

The crest of the borough of Limavady

Another version of the legend relates that Columba had promised never to set foot in Ireland again .  Hence when he arrived he did not disembark, but was carried to Drumceat reclining in his boat. This is of course how he is commemorated on the crest of the borough - the many meanings of which are thoroughly explained elsewhere in these pages.

Saint Columba came to Ireland with a large following, consisting of monks and almost certainly many of the warlike Picts whom he  had  converted. The first hand-pict delegation in Irish history!

St Columba seems to have been a very persuasive man.  Not only was the Scottish colony allowed to spend their taxes locally, but the bards were allowed to reform and keep on singing. 

Curiously, a third decision taken during the great Convention of Drumceat - and one strongly argued by St. Columba - was to exclude women from military service.

History fails to relate what the women-folk made of  all this.

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