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Donahoe's Magazine, Volume 15, No. 2, February 1886   By:

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Vol. XV. BOSTON, FEBRUARY, 1886. No. 2

"THE future of the Irish race in this country, will depend largely upon their capability of assuming an independent attitude in American politics." RIGHT REV. DOCTOR IRELAND, St. Paul , Minn.

The Columbian Abbey of Derry.

One bright sunny day last summer I found myself in the city of Derry, with some hours to spare. I passed them in rambling aimlessly about whither fancy or accident led me, now on the walls, endeavoring to recall the particulars of that siege so graphically described by Macaulay, now in the Protestant Cathedral musing on the proximity of luxuriously cushioned pew and cold sepulchral monument along which the sun, streaming through the stained windows, threw a mellow glow that softened but did not remove the hideousness of the death's emblems on them now wandering down the busy street and admiring the beauties of the Casino College, which, like the alien cathedral a little distance up, rejoices in the patronage of St. Columb and is built on the site of his old monastery. Here I lingered long, trying to picture to myself the olden glories of the spot on which I stood, for

"I do love these ancient ruins; We never tread upon them But we set our foot upon some reverend history;"

although here not an ivy clasped gable, or even a mossy stone remains to claim the "passing tribute" of a sigh, or a vain regret for the golden days of our Irish Church. Yet its very barrenness of ruins made it dearer to my heart, for one never clings more fondly to the memory of a dear friend than when all mementoes of him are lost. As warned by the stroke of the town clock, I hurried down to the station to be whirled away to Dublin, I thought that perhaps my fellow readers of the MAGAZINE would bear with me while I gossiped for half an hour on the story of this grand old monastery, the mother house of Iona.

You know where Derry is, or if you don't your atlas will tell you, that it is away up in the north of Ireland, where, situated on the shores of the Lough Foyle, coiling its streets round the slopes of a hill till on the very summit they culminate in the cross crowned tower of St. Columb's Cathedral, it lies in the midst of a beautiful country just like a cameo fallen into a basket of flowers. The houses cluster round the base of the hill on the land side, spread themselves in irregular masses over the adjoining level, or clamber up the opposite rise on the brow of which stands St. Eugene's Cathedral, yet unfinished, and the pile of turrets which constitute Magee College. A noble bridge spans the Foyle, and through a forest of shipmasts one may see on the other side the city rising up from the water, and stretching along the bending shore till it becomes lost in the villa studded woods of Prehen.

The massive walls, half hidden by encroaching commerce, the grim looking gates, and the old rusty cannon whose mouth thundered the "No" of the "Maiden City" to the rough advances of James, in 1689, give the city a mediƦval air that well accords with its monastic origin. For, let her citizens gild the bitter pill as they may, the cradle of Derry the Rochelle of Irish Protestantism was rocked by monks aye, by monks in as close communion with Rome as are the dread Jesuits to day.

Fourteen hundred years ago the Foyle flowed on to mingle its waters with ocean as calmly as it does to day, but its peaceful bosom reflected a far different scene. Then the fair, fresh face of nature was unsullied by the hand of man. "The tides flowed round the hill which was of an oval form, and rose 119 feet above the level of the sea, thus forming an island of about 200 acres."[1] A Daire or oak grove spread its leafy shade over the whole, and gave shelter to the red deer and an unceasing choir of little songsters. It was called in the language of the time "Daire Calgachi." The first part of the name in the modern form of Derry, still remains though now the stately rows of oak have given way to the streets of a busy city, and the smoke of numerous factories clouds the atmosphere... Continue reading book >>

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