Monday 13 June 2016

Colum Cille Banishes Rats from Tory

Yesterday we were told in the account of Saint Colum Cille's winning of Tory Island that he decreed that no dog should be brought there. Dogs are not the only animals he banished and below is an an account of the reputation the island developed as being free from rats. It doesn't seem to have had a monopoly though, as the island of Inishmurray claimed the same status:

Rats banished from Tory

When Columcille arrived on Tory, he met with some opposition in his efforts to convert the people. The first man to stand by him was a dark man, and to him he gave the name of Dugan.

Then the saint banished all the rats from Tory and conferred the same miraculous power on Dugan. To this day, in spite of the many ships that have been wrecked on the island through the centuries, there are no rats on Tory.

It is said that a sceptical atheist from Derry once brought a box of rats to the island, but they all dropped dead a few minutes after landing. Inishmurray was also freed of rats by the saint, according to an old story.

People often journeyed many miles from different parts of the mainland to these two islands to obtain some clay. This they used to get rid of rats when they were bothered with them in their own home.

H. P Swan, Romantic Stories and Legends of Donegal (Belfast, 1965), 155.

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