Categories of Special Interest
Architectural, Artistic, Social, Technical
In Use As
1960 - 1970
Freestanding single-bay double-height single-cell Catholic church, built 1964-7, on a circular plan. Copper-clad curvilinear conical roof with Cross finial to apex. Sheared rubble stone-clad battered walls jutting over cut-granite plinth on cobbled drain. Pseudo three centre-headed central door opening with two concrete flagged steps, and reinforced concrete canopy framing bronze-clad double doors having sidelights. Clerestorey with leaded stained glass panels behind fixed-pane fittings. Full-height interior with tiled central aisle between timber pews, carpeted stepped dais to sanctuary (west) with Portland stone altar table below silver leaf carved timber crucifix, and stained glass clerestorey below top-lit plastered ceiling on circle of plastered steel pillars. Set in landscaped grounds with rubble stone cylindrical piers to perimeter having conical capping.
A church erected to designs by Liam McCormick (1916-96) representing an important component of the twentieth-century built heritage of County Donegal with the architectural value of the composition confirmed by such attributes as the pioneering circular plan form centred on a canopied door; the gently bulging silhouette with a surface of multi-toned fieldstone disguising a contemporary substructure of concrete and steel; the film strip-like clerestorey; and the spire-topped curvilinear roof whose boldly-modelled sculptural eaves evoke memories of the Le Corbusier (1887-1965)-designed Notre-Dame du Haut (1953-3). The church, inspired by the early medieval Grianán of Aileach [National Monument 140], makes full use of the liturgical reforms sanctioned by the Second Ecumenical Council of the Vatican (1962-5) and the top-lit interior, a circle within a circle, gives each member of the congregation a clear sightline of the sanctuary and the collective endeavours of a team of Irish artists including the "Loaves and Fishes"-themed Portland stone altar table by Imogen Stuart (b. 1927); and the ring of kaleidoscopic stained glass by Helen Moloney (1926-2011): McCormick visited Saint Joseph's Secondary School in Creggan, County Derry, where he commissioned Brendan Friel (b. 1941), the Head of Metalwork, to produce silver plated candle sticks for the altar and Seamus Donaghy (b. 1941), the Head of Woodwork, to produce the altar cross and processional cross. The church, much copied but never equalled, was the winner of the RIAI Triennial Gold Medal (1965-7) and was later voted Building of the Century in a poll conducted by the RIAI in collaboration with "The Sunday Tribune" (1999).