Gartan Clay is a clay found near Gartan in Co Donegal that is said to possess special powers. If you carry it on you during a journey, no harm will come off you, if you have it in your house you will never die in a house fire, nor will any rats inhabit your dwelling. These are just some of the beliefs still held strongly today, albeit mainly amongst Donegal people and their descendants.
Gartan Clay is said to have these powers because St Colmcille was from Gartan and he bestowed these powers on the soil as a gift to his clan.
However, some of the Friel clan dispute this and put it down to the powers of one of their own ancient ancestors, himself a holy man too. Whatever way it is, this belief is very strong in Donegal.
Is this fact or fiction? Can a soil have any such powers? And why is it that only certain members of the Friel clan can actually gather this sacred soil?