Donagh Mass Rock

Donagh mass Rock

In County Donegal, on the Carndonagh road to Ballyliffen, a short distance from St Patrick’s Cross, there’s a sign pointing up a small lane to the Donagh Mass Rock, or Carndonagh Mass Rock.

Sign to Donagh Mass Rock
Sign to Donagh Mass Rock

Follow the sign to the tarmacadam path that leads through the woods. It is well sign-posted and no permission is needed to enter the land.

Carndonagh Mass Rock

Located in the old oak woods near Carrick is a clearing where the Donagh Mass Rock is located.

Donagh Mass Rock

 ~ Haiku ~

a congregation

of bluebells waves warm welcome 

to Donagh Mass Rock

~ Rosaline Callaghan ~

Donagh Mass Rock

The white cross on top of the altar came from the old church in Carndonagh.

Donagh Mass Rock

Maghtochair wrote in his book entitled ‘Inishowen’ (1867) :-

“Beneath those waving oaks, though you cannot see it, is a massive stone, four feet high and three broad, of smooth surface, naturally encased in the bank. Here, when the priest and his flock dare no longer to appear in a temple made by hands, they were accustomed to meet on Sundays; and on that mural altar was offered the oblation of the Mass.”

Maghtochair goes on to describe:-

“There is a cross cut upon this altar; its top is overgrown with heather, a stunted oak grows beside it, and a holly bush overhangs it. When mass was offered here it was partially sheltered by a large branching oak; in time of storms starves taken from the crowd and covered with overcoats sheltered the altar, and afforded a protection for the sacrifice. The stones that formed the base are now for the most part displaced; indeed, some of them were drawn away by a Catholic in the neighbourhood, to be used as building stones, when the late Robert Carey, Esq., of Tiernaleague, hearing of it, did, to his great credit, put an immediate stop to the prosecution of this act of thoughtless vandalism.

At Barrack-Hill in Carndonagh, there was another of these little altars, and a third one at or near the place where Own Doherty’s house now stands on Glenmakee Hill.”

I’d dearly love to go find those last two and will let you know if I do. 

Donagh Mass Rock

A beautiful rendition of An Raibh Tú ar an gCarraig (Were You at the Rock)? by The Swell Season

On first glance, it appears to be a a love song but it had a hidden meaning.

The lyrics in Irish with translation to English, and some explanation about the song, are here. 


Beir bua agus beannacht,


Donagh Mass Rock

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