Rows consisting of large boulders. Structures made of standing rocks. Rings composed of hefty stones.
While these images may evoke imperial buttresses, the locale is actually a calming one, where you can channel your inner shaman or just rekindle some deflated mojo. The Columcille Megalith Park casts its spell and immerses guests in a pool of spiritual healing. There are 17 acres of solitude, a respite that beacons from near and far. “Visiting our property makes you feel like you’ve stepped back in time,” says Brian McGuire, who presides over Columcille as President of the Board of Directors. “It’s truly a land of myth and mystery.”
Nestled in Bangor, the Park allows you to amble along winding paths while basking in Celtic lore. Inspired by the isle of Iona, off the Scottish west coast, Columcille’s origins didn’t blossom in earnest. One of the first monuments was a miniature Stonehenge, whose divinity soon began attracting believers yearning for inner renewal. “Simply put, you have an aura of enlightenment here. It’s therapy for your body and soul,” McGuire notes.
Now in its 40th year, the transformative oasis features nearly one hundred rock-laden tributes with esoteric names like Thor’s Gate and Glen of the Temple. And this labyrinth is how William Cohea, Jr. envisioned the Park after journeying to Iona and purchasing the land that became Columcille in 1975. It was Cohea who oversaw initial onsite construction. The six-sided St. Columba Chapel is a stone sanctuary where ancient Druid Circles may have convened to exchange rites and knowledge. As the venue’s only enclosed structure, this house of benediction now embraces modern-day kahunas who rely on healing crystals instead of chants. In addition, meditators will draw insight from the St. Oran Bell Tower, where pealing chimes infuse a morning yoga session with the ethereal.
Or perhaps you want to sit on a bench and watch the world drift by, suspecting your milieu would’ve triggered some romanticism by Yeats or an epic novel by Joyce. Specters transcend the literal and physical, but their presence, like a wafting fog, boosts the notion you’re traversing hallowed ground. “There’s a sense of being reborn,” enthuses McGuire. “Columcille is all about cleansing and rejuvenation….That’s what Bill [Cohea] was striving for.”
To carry out his magical mission, Cohea, who passed away in June, excavated mammoth stones from his land as well as a nearby shale quarry. These boulders can rise up to 20 feet out of the earth and weigh nearly 45 tons. “They’re a maze of altars, one naturally leading to the next,” McGuire says. Columcille is named after a sixth-century Irish monk who eventually turned Iona into the foundation of Celtic Christianity. “The megaliths have a primal energy,” he continues. “They stand alone or are set in circles and mean whatever people find in their hearts. These formations are a sacred entity.”
Open from dawn to dusk, the retreat nixes an admission fee and offers parking by its front gates. A welcoming haven, it encourages families – and their four-legged companions – to roam the site and make use of picnic tables for lunch. Despite similarities to other public spaces, McGuire conjures a notable exception that sets the hideaway apart from all others: “While most parks try to avoid big rocks, at Columcille, they’re the main attraction.” •
By: Tom Eccleston
Photos by: William Cohea Photography
Columcille Megalith Park
2155 Fox Gap Road, Bangor, PA