Creative Glencolmcille

Writers and Writing

Gleann Cholm Cille had and has its own writers and poets, acclaimed world-wide. Pádraig Ó Beirne (1857-1927) had his native Malainn Bhig as his inspiration for hundreds of poems and songs such as 'Mo Mháire' and 'Mo Phíopa Ghoirid Donn'. He taught in Killybegs before moving to New York where he composed most of his songs. One of his most notable achievements was the publication of his eulogy to General Ulysses S Grant in the New York Times. A life-long friend of the scholar Eoghan Ó Gramhnaigh and he had regular correspondence with 'An Craobhinn Aoibhinn', Dr Douglas Hyde, first President of Ireland. Pádraig Mac Piarais, on his visit to Glen (1907), spent the day in his company. His brother Micheál Ó Beirne (Micky), also a noted author, lived in Málainn Bhig up to his death in 1912. He composed the 'The Famous Biddy Bhán' and the humorous 'The Malinbeg Water Supply'.

Patrick McGinley (b. 1937).

Patrick McGinley was born in Glencolmcille, Co. Donegal in 1937. His novels include Bogmail (London, Martin Brian & O’Keeffe, 1978); Goosefoot (London, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1982); Fox Prints (London, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1983); Foggage (New York, St. Martin’s Press, 1983/London, Jonathan Cape 1984); The Trick of The Ga Bolga (Jonathan Cape, 1985); The Red Men (Jonathan Cape 1987); The Devil’s Diary (Jonathan Cape, 1988); and The Lost Soldier’s Song (London, Sinclair Stevenson, 1994).

His novel Goosefoot was filmed in 1987 as The Fantasist and reissued as The Fantasist (London, Flamingo, 1987).

Bogmail or Murder in Eden is a British television series directed by Nicholas Renton and featuring Ian Bannen, Peter Firth and Alun Armstrong. It was first aired on the BBC in 1991 in three episodes of 55 minutes. It was set in a remote part of rural County Donegal where a landlord of a pub murders his barmen. He is blackmailed by one of the other inhabitants, while the police are busy hunting for the killer. It was based on the novel Bogmail by Patrick McGinley.

A prolific author, he published eight novels, several of which are set in the area. Two of the novels - Goosefoot and Bogmail - have been adapted for television. The latter book concerns a publican who murders his barman with a copy of the Encyclopaedia Brittanica.

He settled in Britain in the 1960s and now lives in Kent. Recently he also published That Unearthly Valley - A Donegal Childhood (available through

That Unearthly Valley - A Donegal Childhood - A canny, loving portrait of a 1940s/1950s rural Irish upbringing, a moving homage to the folk imagination, and a heartfelt valedictory for a traditional way of life—subsistence farming, sheep-rearing, hand-weaving, fiddle-playing and story-telling—that has largely vanished from our shores. Born in Glencolmcille in 1937, McGinley tells of growing up in the back of beyond, an isolated, seaside village marked by a generosity of spirit & true sense of community, wherein he first encountered such mysteries as crab toes, family, sex, death, and school, along with a larger-than-life local curate, Fr James McDyer, a radical socialist in a Roman collar. McGinley also deftly describes a number of other illustrious blow-ins to the Glen, from the eponymous St Colmcille to the renowned American painter Rockwell Kent, Welsh poet Dylan Thomas, and British composer Sir Arnold Baxe. Here is a deeply felt, consummately plumbed, and superbly crafted story of our vanishing past to sit on the shelf next to Alice Taylor’s To School Through the Fields.

Foggage Patrick McGinley Patrick McGinley The Red Men Bogmail Patrick McGinley


Brigid Gillespie

Brigid Gillespie, Dún Alt, continues the bardic tradition of the Glen and in recent years has had three books to her credit: 'Milestones Along the Way', 'Memories' and 'Glencolmcille'.


Anthony Glavin

Anthony Glavin was born in Boston in 1946 and lived in Gleanncholmcille for a number of years in the 1970s and 1980s. Many of the stories in his two collections, One for Sorrow and The Draughtsman & The Unicorn are set in southwestern Donegal.

Anthony has been editor of New Irish Writing (1987-88) and more latterly former Literary Editor of New Island Books. He has published a novel, Nighthawk Alley (Dublin, New Island Books, 1997); and two short story collections, One For Sorrow (Dublin, Poolebeg, 1980); and The Draughtsman and the Unicorn (New Island Books, 1999). He currently lives in Dublin.

Anthony Glavin The Draughtsman and the Unicorn Anthony Glavin One for Sorrow