Comprehensive History


Christmas 1938– A beautiful new Sanctuary Lamp was presented by Ms Margaret Creggan, Duke Street, and was erected in St Columb’s. It is of Celtic design and was manufactured by M.H Gill, Dublin. The lamp, among the largest in Ireland, measures seven feet from it’s base to the corona, it is suspended by special chains from the ceiling and an inscription bears the name of the donor, Ms Creggan and the date, Christmas 1938. The lamp cost £100. (Derry Journal,1938)

Upon the arrival of Monsignor Joseph O’Doherty V.G as Parish priest in 1947, he set to work constructing the temporary church in Newbuildings, which at the time was a great convenience to the people living in the southern end of the parish. He also renovated the church at Ardmore, installed heating and made improvements in the graveyard. Similarly, he installed a new heating plant in St Columb’s and redecorated the interior as well as considerable exterior groundwork. Furthermore, a kitchen was added to the boy’s school, so that the children could have a hot midday meal. (Coulter,1958)

As noted above, Newbuildings Oratory was constructed as a temporary chapel of ease, dedicated on 8th February 1948 by Bishop Neil Farren. The structure was a Nissen Hut. (St Mary’s Rededication Booklet,1988).

At the start of 1948, the practice of ringing the Angelus Bell three times a day at 8am, 12 noon and 6pm was initiated in St Columb’s. Moreover, St Columb’s also received its first sound system, with the church choir, under the direction of organist Redmond Friel, did a half hour long radio broadcast of hymn singing from St Columb’s. The programme was broadcast on BBC Light Programme and was introduced by Fr Bernard Kielt, dated Sunday 14th May 1948.

(BBC Archive)


November 1950– The Derry Journal remarked that 40 Hours Adoration commenced on Sunday 26th November in St Columb’s, with High Mass celebrated by Monsignor O’Doherty. After Mass the Blessed Sacrament was carried around the Church in procession, then solemnly enthroned on the high altar. Large numbers visited throughout the day and the altar was beautifully by Liam McGuinness, with candles, flowers, and lamps. Factory girls in the city were among those who donated to the decorations. Devotions during the children’s visit were conducted by Monsignor O’Doherty with a Holy Hour led by Fr O’Kane CC. (Derry Journal,1950)

In the Marian year 1954, a statue of Our Lady of Fatima was blessed by Dr

Farren in the grounds of Good Shepherd Convent. (Canning, 1993)

On 3rd June 1958 St Columb’s was solemnly reconsecrated by Most Rev Dr Neil Farren. A plaque marking the occasion is currently situated in the sacristy of St Columb’s. Photographs of the occasion are located at the rear of St Columb’s Church.

Monsignor O’Doherty devised a new offertory subscription plan from Sunday 3rd October 1965. All contributions to the church and to the building fund were concentrated into one single subscription.

‘Saint Brecan’s Boys’ and Saint Brecan’s Girls’ Secondary Schools were opened on September 1, 1966. This marked an historic occasion in the parish of Glendermott which, at that time, included Enagh Lough (Strathfoyle) and what is now the parish of Ardmore. Monsignor Joseph O’Doherty was the kingpin in ensuring the completion of the project. In this he was duly assisted by Rev. Fr. Desmond Mullan C.C.

1975– St Patrick’s Hall on Spencer Road was damaged by an incendiary device fire, by the UDA. Being so badly damaged, the sad decision was made to demolish a truly vibrant and historic building of our Parish.

(Anniversary Booklet,1991)

During 1976– Interior changes such as the removal of the altar rails due to the Second Vatican Council were initiated. The Church roof was also repainted. The Last Supper Altar tableau was moved from the High Altar to the centre to accommodate Mass celebrated “ad populum”. Electric candelabra were also installed. (Anniversary Booklet,1991).

July 1979– Closure of Girls School, Chapel Road

1980– Good Shepherd Primary School opened, initially called Dungiven Road Primary School.

May 1981– The new Church of The Immaculate Conception was dedicated by Bishop Edward Daly on Sunday 31st May. The Foundation Stone was blessed by Pope Saint John Paul II at Knock Shrine.

On 1 September 1984, St. Brecan’s High School was created with the amalgamation of the boys’ and girls’ schools and, on 25 November 2003, the school became Immaculate Conception College

22nd April 1985– Permission was granted by the Diocesan Building Committee to reroof St Columb’s Church due to woodworm concerns over the previous forty years, it was decided this would be an opportune time to refurbish the interior of the Church. (Rededication Booklet,1986)

From the period of late November 1985- June 1986, St Columb’s Church was closed for renovation work, with Mass being celebrated in the Parish Hall.

29th June 1986– on the Feast of St Peter & Paul, St Columb’s was rededicated by Bishop Edward Daly. Changes included A new roof with steel trusses replacing the original timbers ones, these were designed to fit into the space above the slope of the original ceiling from eaves to apex. The new ceiling is parahna pine sheeting panelled in mahogany. The roof was finished in natural Welsh Bangor slates and matching crested ridge tile. (Rededication Booklet,1986)

Interior: Original confessional boxes were removed, the gallery was reduced in size, St Joseph’s side Altar was removed, leaving just the Altar base behind. Coloured leaded glass with PVC frames replaced original clear glass and timber frames. The new centrally positioned internal door entrance directed people into the nave. Sr Aloysius McVeigh painted crests of St Pope John Paul II and Bishop Daly above the doors, dating the restoration date. The original timber panelled doors were covered in copper sheeting. The building work was carried out by Gerald McCormick, Contractor. (Rededication Booklet,1986)

1988 – Present

July 1988– On Sunday 31st July 1988 Saint Mary’s Oratory, Newbuildings was re-dedicated by Bishop Edward Daly. (St Mary’s Booklet,1988)

In June 1991, St Columb’s Church celebrated its 150th Anniversary

On Thursday 8th December 2005, Immaculate Conception Church was rededicated by Bishop Seamus Hegarty, with a new Sanctuary and interior.

Immaculate Conception College was closed in 2014 and demolished to make way for social housing.

In more recent years St Columb’s has undergone minor changes with repainting, installation of glass panelling, separating Our Lady’s side altar from the remainder of the Church. A disability access ramp was also added at the side entrance to the Church.

The Parish has also facilitated successful pilgrimages to Iona, and to Fatima in 2019. Moreover, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, webcams were installed in parishes churches in 2020.