Local History by Seán Beattie

Carndonagh, Corvish Stone

Carndonagh Hidden History: the Corvish Stone

The inscribed stone at Corvish, Carndonagh was noted in 2019. It is like a standing stone roughly six feet long and one foot wide. It may have originally been a standing stone. There is an illustrated panel on the centre with a carved line running along the entire side.  A beautiful inscribed panel frames the memorial, thus indicating the work of a local stone sculptor and recalling similar panels on the High Crosses. The words IHS are at the top of the panel, and suggests a head stone or perhaps an altar stone that was in use in Penal times in the early 1700s. Similar inscriptions can be seen at Cloncha graveyard, dating from the 1700s. Altar stones were placed on Mass rocks and carried from place to place as priests tried to evade the  Redcoats and their spies. A  local family took care to hide the altar stone. There are several stories about Mass rocks and priest hunters seeking a bounty from this area so the stone is of great interest for these reasons. The main Mass rock of Carn is close by and signposted on the Ballyliffin road. The original date appears to be 1820 but the digits 19 appear to have been added later thus giving  a reading 1918. Thus the stone appears to have had several lives which adds to the mystery.


Mickey McClure and Bernie Logue at the Corvish Stone with the house row in the background which is part of the Corvish Clachan


The Corvish Stone showing the IHS inscription and the OML in the right corner. The stone had several lives – pagan standing stone, Penal Laws altar stone and memorial headstone.

The stone lies at the back of a wall stead owned by McLaughlins and the inscription on the left is OML, suggesting Owen McLaughlin?

The house row at the back of the picture is often found in Inishowen clachans. A similar row of houses stands at Ballyharry and is known as “The Row” and on Ballyliffin golf course. The houses are deserted but belonged to Mclaughlins (James), Dohertys (Nochars) and Kearneys. There was also a McColgan family, the name of the Erenaghs of Donagh (Bell Keepers). There appears to have been another row of houses on the row entering the site. Estimates for population are around 100 persons in 1901 living in the clachan.

Thanks to Mickey McClure, Benie Logue and Stephen Logue, who first alerted us to the stone and assisted with identification.


  1. Linda S

    My husband’s grandfather was Robert McLaughlin of Corvish whose brother was James and stepfather was Bernard McColgan. What a find!

    • Comment by post author


      Thanks for your reply

      Please share this information with all family members

      There is so much mass rock history in the Corvish area


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