Comprehensive History


A branch of the Holy league to the Sacred Heart was established in St Columb’s Church on Sunday 14th May 1893, officiated by Fr Joseph McKeefrey, with over 1,500 members joining in one week. Fr McKeefrey thanked parishioner Mr Patrick Harkin of Dungiven Road, who donated a life-sized statue of the Sacred Heart, mounted on a pedestal of artistic design. It stands on the Gospel side of the high altar, which has been recently painted and renovated by Fr McFaul. Besides this a fund was also established for a statue of the Blessed Virgin and other embellishments for the altar. Fr McKeefrey thanked those who had made donations, with one generous donation of £400. The Statue to the Sacred Heart remains in St Columb’s Church to this day. (Derry Journal,1893).


On August 14th, 1899 Archbishop Vincent Flood OP of Trinidad paid a visit to Derry and a courtesy call on Bishop John Keys O’Doherty. It was the vigil of the Feast of the Assumption, two days before the orange twelfth. He was hooted and mobbed in his carriage by a crowd of Orangemen waving crimson handkerchiefs. The mob attacked a Catholic Church where confessions were being heard, resulting with the congregation being dismissed and the church closed. The windows of the priest’s house were broken, and the priest chased onto the streets. The church referred to would seem to be St Columb’s due to the Waterside’s mixed population. (Canning,2007)


In 1901 Fr McFaul had a well-deserved honour when the Holy See appointed him Monsignor with the right to wear the rochet and purple soutane. (Coulter,1958)

April 1902– Erection of High Altar and Side Altars in St Columb’s Church- Following several months of construction, the new Altar’s were unveiled in St Columb’s. Designed by Irish Architects Ashlin & Coleman and carved by Patrick Tomlin with Da Vinci’s “Last Supper” being carved onto Carrera marble. The altar is of gothic style, with the altar table and tabernacle richly formed, and supported by shafts of Mexican onyx. The surmounting canopy is octagon in plan, being richly groined. At the ends of the reredos are statues of St Patrick and St Columba, with cluster shafts in-between containing images of: The Nativity, The Resurrection and The Ascension”.

The remaining are filled in with adoring Angels. Altar sculpted panels exhibit

the Passion flower and vine with the “Alpha and Omega” monogram. Side altars to the B.V.M and St Joseph were also sculpted and placed on either side of the high altar. It may be possible the three stained glass windows; the main window, Holy Family and Presentation of Mary were installed at this time, carried out by Mayer of Munich, with parishioner donations. The work was initiated by Monsignor McFaul with the high altar, windows and side altar to Our Lady remaining today. The altar cost £2,000 with the side altars £500 each. (Derry Journal,1902)

1st December 1902- Fr McFaul was always concerned for the convenience

of his people he offered to surrender part of the parish, chiefly the Lower Cumber section to Faughanvale, for he felt that the faithful in this area might thus be better served. By administrative decree the Bishop, Doctor John Keys O’Doherty, made the transfer on 1st December 1902, the day when a new parish priest, Fr McEldowney went to Faughanvale. Thus, fourteen townlands, those lying between the Berry Burn and the Faughan, were all that remained to Glendermott from the former union. This reorganisation had the effect of making the parish more compact, more easily worked. (Coulter,1958)

October 1904Sunday 16th October, a beautiful statue to St Francis of Assisi was unveiled in St Columb’s Church. The statue was a gift from the Third Order of St Francis, carved by Senor Faretti, Carrara, Italy. It illustrates St Francis with a Cross in his right hand and a book with the words “Regle du tiers ordre” in the other. (Derry Journal,1904)