The Bones of Conla the Artist: A Folktale of Duncrun, Ireland

Pinpoint Location: Duncrun, County of Donegal / Map data ©2016 Google

This folktale from Duncrun tells of Conla the Artist, who left a work unfinished, and of St. Columkille, who saw it finished. 

A long time ago, a celebrated metalworker known as Conla the Artist lived in Innishowen. So great was Conla’s reputation that whenever the locals wished to praise a whitesmith’s work they said, “Conla himself was not a better workman.”

When Conla died, he left a shrine of exceeding great beauty unfinished; no other man could be found to complete it properly after the great artist had been laid in his tomb.

Many years rolled by, until one faithful day St. Columkille passed through Dun-Cruithne, and saw the unfinished shrine. He asked about the artist, and the people told him Conla had died.

“Bring me to him,” said the saint, “I shall raise him to life so that he can finish his beautiful work.”

The decaying bones of Conla were shown to the saint, who blessed them. To the great admiration of all who were present, flesh grew upon them, Conla came to life again, and completed his work.

Conla continued to live for many years afterward, and he was the progenitor of a numerous offspring, known as the Clann-Cnaimhsighe, or “the posterity of the bones.”

In the sixteenth century, the shrine of Conla was kept in the parish of Tamlaghtard or Magilligan, in the county and diocese of Derry. In our time, all trace of this remarkable relic has been lost.

If you enjoyed reading this folktale from Duncrun, then please consider keeping it alive by sharing it with your friends.


  1. Note that, due to political events at a later date, the region of origin for this legend is currently within the borders of Northern Ireland. Since the tale clearly predates this event, it is included in the Irish collection.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here