In early Christian times, Carndonagh was an important ecclesiastical site.
The monastic complex was located where the present day Church of Ireland stands. The Marigold Stone situated in the church graveyard dates from this period. A beautifully decorated slab, it features the floral symbol on one face that gives it its name.
There is also the remains of a beautifully carved stone lintel from an earlier building.
But is just outside the church that the full scale of the artistry of the craftsmen of the early monastery can be appreciated. Here stands the Donagh Cross (or St. Patrick Cross). Dating to the 7th century this would make it one of the very early Christian crosses outside mainland Europe.
The cross is beatifully decorated with carvings which at the same time reflect the Christian traditions with biblical reference and also the older Celtic art of interlacing patterns (their meaning obscured now through time). This suggests again the success achieved in converting the Irish from a Druid based religion to Christianity, in the adoption of the stones which were held in reverence since early times.
Located just beside the cross are two distinctive pillar stones again displaying a great deal of skill in the detailed carving which cover the surface of each of these stones.
The bell on the church is said to have come from the Trinidad de Valencera, the ship from the Spanish Armada that sank in Kinnagoe Bay.