Categories of Special Interest
Architectural, Artistic, Social, Technical
St. Aengus Catholic Church
In Use As
1960 - 1970
Freestanding Catholic church, built c. 1965-67, on a circular plan. Curving copper sheet clad roof consisting of off-centre conical spire topped with cross finial over patent-glazed polygonal lantern, curving smooth rendered soffit to eaves and cast concrete gargoyles at lower level. Cambered rubble stone outer wall over depressed hewn granite block plinth surrounded by cobblestone lined drain with projecting concrete beams over sacristy to rear. Square-headed window openings with stone sills; clerestory window with leaded stained glass behind clear glass panes around the entire circumference of the building. Square-headed door openings with copper clad double doors with etched glass sidelights and projecting concrete canopy over and matchboard timber doors to rear. Interior with plastered walls and supporting ring of circular plaster finished steel columns, with plaster ceiling rising to height over the altar, lit by clerestory stained glass window and by light from spire over altar. Curved solid timber seating bisected by aisle leading up to circular altar area with white portland altar and lectern; recessed baptistery with skylight over. Set on large site surrounded by grass lawns gently sloping to east and north. Formal approach along stepped path from main road and from car park beyond cast-iron gates mounted on cylindrical stone piers with conical stone coping. Detached six-bay single-storey presbytery to south.
One of the most influential modernist churches built in Ireland in the latter half of the twentieth century. It is on a spectacular site overlooking Lough Swilly, chosen by the architect Liam McCormick, to a design inspired by the nearby historic Grianán of Aileach fort. Like may of McCormick's churches, the design was a collaborative project including the work of artists Brendan Friel, Oisín Kelly, Patrick McElroy, Helen Moloney, Veronica Rowe and Imogen Stuart. The contractor was John Hegarty. It was the winner of the RIAI triennial Gold Medal award (1965-67), and was voted Building of the Century in a RIAI poll in 1999.