Survey Data

Reg No

40501090


Rating

Regional


Categories of Special Interest

Architectural Artistic Social


Original Use

College


In Use As

College


Date

1900 - 1910


Coordinates

216356, 411644


Date Recorded

02/12/2008


Date Updated

--/--/--


Description

Detached ten-bay three-storey boys' secondary school and former Catholic seminary on complex rectangular-plan, built c. 1904-6, having four-stage towers to the corners (on circular-plan), three with crenellated parapets and one south-east) with conical roof, central single-bay breakfront to the east elevation having bartizan tower (on circular-plan) over to the south side. Central courtyard and ambulatory\cloister with cut sandstone columns, arches and carved faces. Three-storey wing to north-west built c. 1931 (see 40501091), former dormitory for boarders, and modern rectangular single-storey porch extension to south side. Pitched natural slate roof hidden behind parapet to main body of building, roof hidden behind parapet to east breakfront and to north-west extension, conical feather-edged concrete slab roof to the south-east and north-west towers, roof hidden behind parapet to the south-west and north-east towers; rock-faced ashlar limestone chimneystacks with concrete quoins, moulded stringcourse and corbelled capping; cast-iron downpipes with decorative crenellated cast-iron hoppers and painted round cast-iron downpipes, decorative painted cast-iron holderbats. Snecked rock-faced ashlar limestone walls, roughcast rendered wall to west side of main body of building and to south side of north-west extension, ruled-and-lined cement rendered wall to north part of west side of main body of building; stone crenellations on moulded cornice on carved mask-modillions to north part of parapet to east side and to north and south sides of main body of building and to central breakfront to east side, stone caped crow-stepped parapet to south part of east side of main body of building, roughcast rendered parapet wall to west side with chamfered concrete coping and capped crow-steps, roughcast rendered parapet wall to south side of north-west extension with stone capped crenellations; snecked rock-faced parapet wall to south-west and north-west tower on decorative moulded sandstone machicolation and with stone capped crenellations; bartizan like central breakfront to first and second floors to east side on decorative moulded sandstone machicolation surmounted by moulded cornice with carved stone gargoyle to the south-east and north-east corners, concrete platband between first and second floor, rectangular projection to top north-east corner with snecked rock-faced limestone walls and ashlar stone quoins on chamfered ashlar stone corbel with carved crest to its east side and chamfered ashlar stone coping, circular two-stage tourelle\bartizan to top of south-east corner with conical feather-edged concrete slab roof, snecked rock-faced ashlar limestone walls, platband between first and second stage and stepped chamfered ashlar stone corbel; circular single-stage tourelle to parapet to east, north and south sides of main body of building with snecked rock-faced ashlar limestone walls conical feather-edged concrete slab roof and on chamfered stepped ashlar stone corbel; moulded stone corbelled stringcourse with carved masks between ground and first floor to east, north and south sides of main body of building; moulded corbelled marble holly water font with round-headed moulded marble niche to west part to ground floor to south side of main body of building; projecting snecked rock-faced ashlar limestone plinth with chamfered stepped concrete coping; shallow projecting concrete plinth to south and north sides of north-west extension. Round-headed window openings with paired painted timber two-over-two paned timber sliding sash windows with horizontal glazing bars to second floor to east side with splayed block-and-start rock-faced ashlar stone surrounds and surmounted by dressed rock-faced ashlar limestone round-headed relieving arch, concrete sill-course; recessed painted timber four-over-four pane timber sliding sash windows to first floor to east side and to east side of east breakfront, stepped sandstone surrounds with rounded corner and nail-headed moulding, dressed rock-faced ashlar limestone arch to extrados, concrete sill-course; recessed paired painted timber four-over-four pane timber sliding sash windows to first floor to east breakfront, ashlar sandstone surrounds with rounded corner to reveals set in round-headed arch with splayed block-and-start sandstone surrounds, torus moulded corners to reveals and dressed rock-faced ashlar limestone arch to extrados, concrete sill course; painted decorative moulded and carved timber casement windows with decorative pilaster to top hung to ground floor to east side, chamfered flushed concrete sill, set into round-headed arcade to south and north of main entrance door, applied sandstone columns on stone plinth with chamfer stops, canted shaft with recessed interlace moulded panel to sides, quadrant ashlar sandstone shaft to end columns, carved interlace and animals sandstone capital, columns supporting round-headed arch with recessed stepped sandstone voussoirs with torus moulding, moulded sandstone hoodmoulding to extrados on carved floriated corbels and with carved high relief wolf-like label-stop to south and north end to arcades; painted timber two-over-two, four-over-four, four-over-two elongated glass paned sash windows to other sides, painted timber four-over-six pane timber sliding sash windows to ground floor to south side, some windows paired or triple, splayed block-and-start rock-faced ashlar stone surrounds with dressed rock-faced ashlar limestone arch to extrados, surmounted by dressed rock-faced ashlar limestone round-headed relieving arch to paired windows to second floor to north and south sides, flushed cement rendered surrounds to windows to west side of main body of building and to south side of northwest extension, windows fronted by modern metal protective railings to ground floor to west side of main body of building and to first stage of south-west tower, concrete sills; concrete sill-course to windows to first and second floors to east, north and south sides of main body of building and to north and south sides of north-west extension, and to second stage to towers; square-headed window openings, painted timber casement windows to second floor to west side of main body of building with flushed cement rendered surrounds and concrete sill, painted timber two-over-two pane timber sliding sash windows to second floor to north part of west side of main body of building with rendered reveals, and to second floor to south side of north-west extension with flushed cement rendered surround and to second floor to north side of north-west extension with block-and-start rock-faced ashlar stone surrounds and surmounted by dressed rock-faced ashlar limestone round-headed relieving arch, concrete sills, concrete sill-course to windows to second floor to south and north side of the north-west extension. Round-headed entrance door openings, wood grained timber bolection moulded flat panelled double doors with decorative painted wrought-iron strap hinges with crosses and Celtic cross motifs, ashlar sandstone threshold, broached ashlar sandstone reveals, decorative carved corbels to reveals supporting projecting ashlar sandstone quadripartite moulded round-headed lancet glass panes fanlight with carved colonnettes, recessed chamfered roundels and carved interlace torus moulding to base, entrance door set into round-headed sandstone arch with decorative recessed stepped moulded reveals with colonnettes with carved capital with angle-mask, carved high relief angel consol to block-and-start ashlar sandstone surrounds, decorative stepped carved voussoirs with interlace nail-headed and torus mouldings, dressed rock-faced ashlar limestone arch to extrados, door addressed by ashlar stone platform and steps flanked by ashlar stone plinth walls with curved edges to coping; painted timber flushed moulded flat panelled door to north side of the north-west extension surmounted by painted timber plain glass pane fanlight with modern ventilator, block-and-start rock-faced ashlar stone surrounds with dressed rock-faced ashlar limestone arch to extrados, ashlar stone plinth-blocks, door addressed by ashlar stone threshold and steps; painted timber raised-and-fielded panelled door to south side of north-west extension surmounted by painted timber two glass panes fanlight, flushed cement rendered surrounds, ashlar stone plinth-blocks and threshold, door addressed by two ashlar stone steps flanked by ashlar stone plinth walls with rounded edges to coping. College set back from road with car park and landscaped grassed areas to east and to the north-east, modern gym and sports courts to north and to north-west, modern school buildings to west, attached chapel (see 40501092) to south, driveway to south-east enclosed to east by gateway (see 40501097), modern roughcast rendered plinth boundary wall with painted metal railings and concrete piers to east and north. Located on an elevated site to the north of St. Eunan's Cathedral (see 40501168), and overlooking Letterkenny to the south-east.

Appraisal

Located on one of the highest points in the town, this imposing castle-like secondary school with turret-like projections to the corners is one of the most impressive buildings in Letterkenny, and one of the finest examples of its type and date in Ireland. Built in the early-twentieth century to designs by T. F. McNamara (1867-1947) in an assertive Scottish Baronial style, this building reflects its function of a boys' secondary school based on a rigorous education. McNamara was engaged to oversee the completion of St. Eunan's Cathedral to the east immediately prior to this commission. The ground floor of this college is enlivened by the Hiberno-Romanesque style quasi arcading with interlacing and zig-zag motifs to the window openings. The interesting plan is arranged around a central courtyard with ambulatory reminds one of the cloister of a monastery but, the towers to the corners, the breakfront with bartizan on decorative machicolations, the attractive crenellated parapets and the multiple tourelles with their fine conical roof are of Scottish Baronial inspiration and create the impression of a formidable fortress, perhaps reflecting the growing confidence of the Catholic church in Ireland at the start of the twentieth century. The rich Hiberno-Romanesque style of the arcades and impressive and complex doorcase to the front elevation add significantly to the artistic value to the building. The massive stone walls, enlivened by an abundant sculpted detailing and animated by the tourelles, demonstrate the highest quality craftsmanship. The contrast between the crisp and warm sandstone detailing and the more sombre grey rock-faced limestone masonry helps to create interesting tonal and textural variation that somewhat alleviates the enormous bulk of this building. The original sash windows, some with unusual glazing composition, and original front door, which is enriched by interesting wrought-iron cross strap hinges, are also of artistic significance and merit. The casement windows set into the arcades at the ground floor of the main elevation are a striking feature thanks to their finely moulded glazing bars with compelling pilasters. Founded by the Roman Catholic Bishop of Raphoe, the Most Revd. Dr O'Donnell, the College is one of the main buildings constituting a group of ecclesiastical institutions of which the core is the St. Eunan's Cathedral (see 40501168). The student population expanded greatly in the 1920s and a new extension (see 40501091) was built in the early 1930s. The recreation hall was built in 1958 and the science block in 1968 (both not in survey). The College Chapel was designed by J.J. Robinson, the architect of Galway Cathedral, and was completed in 1961 at a cost of £42,000. The college is named after Saint Eunan (627/8-704), Abbot of the monastery of Iona from 679-704, a native of Donegal and patron saint of the Diocese of Raphoe. Fronted by mature trees, this College is also a remarkable picturesque landmark in the townscape of Letterkenny and is one of the major architectural set pieces in Donegal. This building originally opened in 1906 as a minor seminary to prepare young men for the priesthood in the Roman Catholic Church (www.sainteunans.com). Its construction was apparently funded using excess funds collected in the United States for the erection of the nearby cathedral.