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The Founding Fathers - by Rev Brendan McGinn P.P.

St Patrick is Patron of Termonamongan Parish and of the Parish Church. According to tradition he stopped at a well in Magherakeel on his way from Lough Derg to quench his thirst. He blessed the well, now known as Tobar Phádraig (St Patrick’s Well). To this day it is a place of pilgrimage; many hundreds come to make the station on St Patrick’s Day each year.

There is another holy well in the Parish at Crighdenis, which has all the marks of an ancient holy place, although it is no longer frequented. It is called St Davog’s Well. It was St Davog, a companion of St Patrick, who founded the first monastic community on Saints’ Island in Lough Derg. Fr Peadar MacLoingsigh records that ‘as recently as 1880 Lough Derg pilgrims often went out of their way to make a station at St Davog’s Well on their way to and from The Island. Parents of old people still alive told that they saw Lough Derg pilgrims staying overnight at Davog’s Well and that tents had been erected for their accommodation.’ At the present time there are a few people who begin their pilgrimage at St Davog’s Well and walk to The Island by the closed Border road which can only be crossed on foot.

The original church site in the Parish was at Magherakeel near St Patrick’s Well. It is called Kylehyrryll in Archbishop Colton’s Visitation of the Derry Diocese in 1399. This translates into Irish as “Cill Chairill” and into English as “St Caireall’s Chruch” St Caireall was, therefore, either the founder or the patron of the church. There are two St. Cairealls in the calendars of Irish saints, one the founder of the monastery of Inniskeerin in AD 599, the other Bishop of Ross Airithir, i.e. Rossory near Enniskillen which associates him with the monastery of Devenish. The names of St Caireall and St Davog are perpetuated in the names of our schools, St Caireall’s Primary School, Carricoughan, and St Davog’s Primary School, Scraghy. And, of course St Davog’s Aghyaran, is the name of our Gaelic Football Club.

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