• ST COLUMB’S    
  •   ENAGH 

References- The following publications have been utilised for this section ;

James A Coulter, “History of Glendermott Parish”, 1958 & Derry Journal Archive

Before 1836, the people attended Mass in the coach-house of Dr White in Duke Street, but in that year the Archdeacon bought an acre of ground from Liberal MP Sir Robert Ferguson, whose statue stands in Brooke Park. On 29th August 1838 Dr McLaughlin laid the foundation stone and after many disappointments arising chiefly from the churlishness of the contractor, St Columb’s Church was opened in 1841, with Archdeacon McCarron celebrating the first Mass on 3rd January 1841. The Derry Journal at the time (Tuesday 27th July 1841) “On Sunday last (25th) St Columb’s Chapel, Waterside was Consecrated as a place of worship in connection with the Roman Catholic Church. The following gentlemen officiated on the occasion; The Right Rev Dr John McLoughlin, presiding and consecrating Bishop. Rev E.Kelly Deacon, Rev W O’Donnell Sub-Deacon; and Rev Dillon Master of Ceremonies. After the Celebration of High Mass, the Rev Thomas Maguire of Ballinamore delivered a discourse in his usual eloquent manner, adverted to the mean trick adopted by some in this city, posting placards that the Rev. Gentleman had been suddenly taken ill and implying the consecration was to be postponed, to prevent ones from attending. The Chapel however, was densely packed during both evening and morning sessions with collections amounting to £144 11s 1d”. St Columb’s was designed by the noted Dublin architect J J McCarthy, who also designed St Eugene’s Cathedral.

Following the death of Archdeacon McCarron, a brass and slate monument was erected by his grateful parishioners, today enjoying a honoured place in the Church. Since he died before the enlargement of the Church, he is buried opposite the side altar to Our Lady near to where his plaque is situated.

Rev Edward Doherty built the Parochial House and to mark it’s completion there was a sermon in St Columb’s by Dean O’Kane of Maynooth, 17th September 1865. Another event was the extraordinary mission given by four Jesuit Fathers in October, 1869, beginning on Sunday 10th October and lasting for three weeks. The occasion bears convincing witness to the spirit of Catholicism in Derry, with one report in the Journal citing that almost 20,000 people received the Sacrament of Penance, with the Waterside Chapel thronged for every service, numbers being turned away on some occasions. He also started the school at Enagh Lough in 1870 which replaced a private school in Coolkeeragh.

On 4th Feburary 1873, the people of Derry heard a Catholic bell for the first time in over two hundred years since the Reformation. St Columb’s Church bell rung out across the Foyle, it was surely the symbol of a resurrected Church, bearing witness to the courage and sacrifice of those who had not let the Faith die. The bell was procured by Fr Devlin who also fundraised for parish schools in 1874 by inviting Father Tom Burke, the famous preacher, to give a special sermon in July of that year.

In 1887 St Columb’s was enlarged by Monsignor McFaul. He took great care to preserve the grace and proportion of the building, with a chancel and transepts added to an otherwise plain rectangular five bay nave. The Church was re-opened on 6th May 1888 with Cardinal Logue preaching. In terms of style, this is the style adopted by gothic revivalists- rather dry Perpendicular, with battlemented parapet, western tower, spiky pinnacles on the buttresses and Y tracery in the windows. The walls are of whinstone with sandstone dressings. Moreover, this made the Church more cruciform and the interior was brightened considerably. He installed a new Communion rail of polished pitched pine and added to the external appearance of the Church by separating the grounds of the school from the school with a large wall and erecting wrought iron gates, at the church entrance, which are still in use. These improvements cost almost £3,000 but the parishioners were generous. On the opening Sunday, when the primate preached, the collection in the church amounted to more than £700 with Mallabuoy and Ardmore contributing £150 each. To have given £1,000 in one day was tribute not only to the enthusiasm but also to the comparative affluence of the Catholics in Glendermott at the end of the nineteenth century.

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.

April 1902- Erection of High Altar and Side Altars in St Columb’s Church- Following several months of construction, the new Altars 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 Passionflower 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 remain today. The altar cost £2,000 with the side altars £500 each.

October 1904- Sunday 16th October, a beautiful statue to St Francis of Asissi 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. November 1906- on Sunday 11th November a charity sermon was preached in St Columb’s by Bishop Clancy of Elphin, to help pay off heavy debt incurred by the building of new schools. Rev Philip O’Doherty PP of Claudy, preached in the evening. The speakers were organised by Monsignor McFaul.

The renowned Fr W.B McFeely was appointed Parish Priest of Glendermott by Bishop McHugh in 1915. These two had formed a close association over the years, based on mutual respect of the qualities that each had perceived in each other and by friendship. Fr McFeely had a deep veneration for Mary, Mother of God, and significantly enough one of his first public acts was in the parish was the unveiling of the Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes, erected by the Catholic Soilders of the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers in memory of their fallen comrades. It is thought that this Grotto was dedicated on Easter Sunday 1916 Towards the end of 1916, a scheme was launched for extensive improvements in the Parish. A building fund was started was started and with the approval of the Bishop, an appeal was made for outside funds. From this, the Waterside church was renovated, an organ installed, and an extension was built to the parochial house. In 1917, a large job of fibrous plaster work was carried out by Michael Creedon, Clare Lane, Dublin on St Columb’s. The Church was closed for the period of this work.

The Sodality Groups for men, women and children met once a month for prayers, benediction and a sermon. During the 1930’s the Women’s Sodality at the instigation of Fr Barney Smith raised what was then the very considerable sum of £500 to buy new altar rails and bronze gates which adorned the church altar until 1976.

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

Monsignor O’Doherty, upon arrival, installed a new heating plant in St Columb’s and redecorated the interior as well as considerable exterior ground work. Furthermore, a kitchen was added to the boy’s school, so that the children could have a hot midday meal.

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 it’s first sound system, with the church choir, under the direction of organist Redmond Friel, did an 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.

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.

On 3rd June 1958 St Columb’s was solemnly Consecrated 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. 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 “versus populum”. Electric candelabra were also installed.

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.

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. 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.

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

Some of the images below have been taken from the following sources; Derry Of The Past, Waterside Voices, Stephen Doherty, Derry Journal

The following resources can be viewed here:

St Columb’s 150th Anniversary Booklet 1991

St Columb’s Rededication Booklet 29th June 1986

Waterside Parish Offertory Subscription Booklet 1965

Memories of Altar Serving Article

Derry Catechism 1897


In May 1978 Monsignor Austin Duffy commissioned F.M Corr architects to design a new church for the Gobnascale area, which had been heavily urbanised in the preceding years. Mass had been celebrated in St Brecan’s school for the previous seven years.

The foundation stone was blessed by Pope Saint John Paul II during his pastoral visit to Our Lady’s Shrine at Knock on 3oth September 1979. The Foundation Stone was laid by Bishop Edward Daly on 26th July 1980.

The church with it’s adjacent sacristy and presbytery has a characteristic layout in plan evoking the strong symbolism of the fish. The popularity of this symbolism in Christian art lays in the famous acrostic consisting of the initial letters of the five Greek words forming the word for fish (Ichthys) Iesous Christos Theou Yios Soter, Jesus Christ, Son of God.

Sunday 31st May 1981 was a historic day for the parish of Glendermott. On that day Most Rev Dr Daly dedicated the new church. In his homily he paid tribute to all involved in the construction. Father Neil Farren and Father Eamon McDevitt took up residence in the adjoining presbytery on completion.

On Thursday 8th December 2005 the interior of the church was updated, with a new altar, ambo, priest’s chair. The Church was rededicated by Bishop Seamus Hegarty on the occasion. The tabernacle was placed behind the altar, along with exterior groundwork and car park improvements.

The Rededication Booklet can be viewed here

Solemn Dedication of Immaculate Conception Booklet May 1981



Extract from the book: , In the Shadow of the Tail of the Fox, pp. 190-191 Published by Newbuildings and District Archaeological and Historical Society (2002)

St Mary’s Oratory is a Chapel of Ease for the Waterside Parish in Newbuildings and was built primarily for parishioners in the Prehen and Newbuildings area. Before the Chapel was built, people went to St Columb’s in the Waterside and on Sundays had to get up at 7:30am to be able to walk up the Half-Mile Hill into St Columb’s for Sunday Mass. Parishioners remember going in to Saturday evening Confessions dressed to kill and then going to the pictures and catching the last bus home.

In 1947, Monsignor Joseph O’Doherty became Parish Priest of Glendermott and he was the chief inspiration for the proposal to have a Chapel in Newbuildings. A temporary measure was the building of a Nissen hut structure on land donated by Miss Jean Kerr of Ballyorr House. This was opened in 1948. The Derry Journal on 9th February 1948 described the opening ceremony of the Chapel, performed by Most Rev. Dr Farren, “as possessing seating accommodation for a hundred and fifty with a beautiful altar of pitch pine, the walls done in cream and the seating of a type that evoked general admiration”. The source of heating was from oil stoves in the middle. Parishioners used to fill the heaters on Saturday evening. The altar and its furnishings originally belonged to the Chapel in Derry Workhouse. The bishop was assisted by Rev. Hugh Browne, the administrator of St Eugene’s Cathedral and by Fr D. Kelly who were natives of the area.

In the 1960s and early 1970s an extensive house-building programme went on in Newbuildings and the population increased greatly. The appointment of Fr Denis McConellogue as curate with responsibility for Prehen/Newbuildings in 1974 began a new phase of development. The old chapel building and its surroundings had fallen into disrepair and he persuaded the Catholic community to refurbish, paint, polish and generally spruce up the Chapel and grounds. The Blessed Sacrament was reserved in the Chapel, local committees of St Vincent De Paul Conference, a Ladies Circle and P.T.A were formed and enthusiasm abounded.

By 1977/78 it was clear that the Nissen Hut Chapel was no longer adequate and the appointment of Fr James Clerkin as Parish Priest led to a new initiative beginning with a funding campaign. The last Mass in the old Chapel was said in May 1988. July 1988- On Sunday 31st July 1988 Saint Mary’s Oratory, Newbuildings was re-dedicated by Bishop Edward Daly. Since 1996, however, changes have had to be made in how parishes are served by a declining number of priests and, in the changes, the Newbuildings area lost the services of a resident curate. Fr Joe Coulter, who was present at the official opening of the new Chapel, was the last curate with direct responsibility for the area. He served for 12 years and was a much loved, respected and enthusiastic minister to the needs of the local community who were saddened to hear of his death on 18th April 2002. Fr Michael Canny, Parish Priest of Glendermott and Strathfoyle, now has immediate responsibility for the Newbuildings area .

Rededication of St Mary’s Oratory Booklet 1988


In March 1917, Fr McFeely began negotiations with the Enagh Lough AOH for purchase of their hall, that he might convert it into a chapel. On 25th March, Brothers William and Con Doherty were appointed delegates to discuss a suitable price for building with any representatives the Parish priest would name. At the following meeting on 8th April, it was announced the hall would be sold for £200. It was thereupon decided that the society would make a contribution of £40 to the expenses of building a chapel.

Therefore, Mass was celebrated again after so many centuries at St Canice’s Enagh Lough. In August 1928 the school at Enagh Lough which replaced the old one built in 1870 was completed, this was known as Enagh Lough Preparatory school and was situated beside the chapel. Both buildings remain standing to this day.

Information on Saint Oliver Plunkett’s Strathfoyle, which replaced St Canice’s, Enagh to be updated.