The monastery at Drumcliffe was in existence for almost a thousand years, from 575CE until the end of the 16th century. For most of this time, up until its dissolution, Drumcliffe was a Columban monastery. 

Plundered repeatedly

He appointed St Thorian (Mothorain) to be the first abbot (Gwynn and Hadcock 1970, 34). The annals make several mentions of the monastery between the late 10th to the early 16th century, recording the deaths of various abbots, and also repeated occasions when the monastery was attacked and plundered: For instance, the Annals of Connaught notes that in the year 1416 the abbey was attacked and set on fire, and the abbot Maurice O’Coincoil perished in the flames. The Annals of the Four Masters specifically mention the round tower, recording that it was struck by lightning in the year 1396.

arly sources suggest that there was more than one church here. The Annals of Connacht record that in the year in 1267 ‘Drumcliff was completely burned, with its churches’. An entry in the Annals of Lough Cé records that in 1315 the wife of Aodh O Domhnaill, King of Tir-Connaill brought gallowglasses and members of the Clann Muirchertaigh to attack ‘the churches of Druim-Cliabh, and several of the clerics and comarbs of Druim-Cliabh were plundered by her.’

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