Located a short distance to the north of Drumcliffe, at the base of Benbulben in Cúl Dreimhne (Cooldrumman) townlands, is the reputed site of the Battle of Cúl Dreimhne (Cooldrumman), more popularly referred to as the “Battle of the Books”.
Recorded as having taken place in or about 560CE, the battle between the northern and southern O’Neill tribes supposedly resulted in approximately 3,000 deaths. The cause of the battle is unknown, but likely had its origins in conflict between ruling dynasties of the time for control of the region. Some early accounts give the violating of sanctuary – the death of the King of Connacht’s son while he was under the protection of St. Colmcille – as the reason for the battle.
The actual site of the battle is not known, though it is generally accepted to have occurred in the vicinity of Cooldrumman townland and local tradition identifies a rock in Urlar, an adjacent townland, as the burial place of the last warrior killed in the battle (source: Dr. Brian Lacey, Cul Dreimne, Drumcliffe, & Colum Cille, Sligo Field Club Journal, Vol. 6, 2020).