St Eunan’s Cathedral should definitely be on your plan when you visit County Donegal. Explore the ergonomic design of the Cathedral built in Victorian neo-Gothic style on a site overlooking the town. You will find it at Ard Choluim, Letterkenny, County Donegal, Ireland. From the inside, the Cathedral is 171 ft. long, the transepts are 100 ft. wide, the roof is 72 ft. high, and the spire is 240 ft.
History of St. Eunan’s Cathedral
This spiritual Cathedral came to light to the public in 1901. The construction ended in the twentieth century following the formation of the Cathedral Building Committee by the Bishop of Raphoe within 11 years.
On the same location of the current Cathedral, another parish church was built as a result of Dr Patrick McGettigan’s efforts. On the Glencar Road, there had been another one, too. Sentry Hill, a 19th-century Victorian farmhouse, is located between those sites and throughout the years of persecution—a sentry was a soldier standing to guard the priests who celebrated Mass.
About a mile away from Saint Eunan’s Cathedral, Rodger’s Burn site stood there in the shape of the old mass rock and it was clearly related to the Penal Laws Era. The Penal Cross is beautifully presented at the Cathedral as a reminder of such days. Such crosses were specially made to be easily hidden in a time when practising of the religious rites of Catholicism was prohibited.
Further History of the Cathedral
Construction plans of a cathedral were set by Bishop Daniel McGettigan, who later became an Archbishop, having a certain design. He came up with building a tower at the beginning as a great motivation to continue the construction of such a spiritual place. During the eight years of Dr. McDevitt’s service as the Bishop of Raphoe, starting from 1871 to 1879, and also an Archbishop, he put into consideration building the Cathedral. And then the Archbishop of Armagh, who served after him for 9 years till 1888, Dr. Logue actively sought to achieve the same goal.
The idea of building a cathedral was well-received by a great number of people near the end of the nineteenth century. The treasures that are found now in the current Cathedral were originally gifts, such as the Sanctuary Lamp and the picture of Saint Columba, as well as gifts offered by some other Irish Americans. A great number of poor people also supported the Cathedral greatly and the historical records found in the archives show how hard were money contributions given by the parishioners during that time.
£300,000 was the actual construction cost of St. Eunan’s Cathedral. Laying the cornerstone of the Cathedral was marked by the words of Bishop O’Connell in his speech in September 1891. In his speech, he wondered how the relationship was between real religious education and constructing a cathedral. He also insisted that the Cathedral wouldn’t distract the attention from the urgent projects on education, society, or industry.
Continuing with the History of The Place
The Cathedral aimed at improving the people’s ideals, lifting their spirits, recalling pleasant memories, and enriching their souls with the Christian manliness, bravery, wisdom and nobility. He also said that for the sake of keeping such a beautiful spirit, a stone would be brought from the fallen shrines to be placed there. Not only does the Cathedral promote ancient history, but also beliefs and sincerity. The Cathedral was later restored in 1985 with a budget of half a million pounds.
The Cathedral’s design was created by William Hague, a renowned church architect, and it was constructed using white Mountcharles stone. During the first five years of the project, James McClay from Strabane was the building contractor. Coming from Belfast, Messrs Purdy and Millard were responsible for the carving process as carving contractors.
Nature played a role in placing the altar at the east part of the church due to geological factors of the site.
The Parochial House in Letterkenny presents two wonderful books talking in detail about the Cathedral. The first was published in 1989, entitled Saint Eunan’s Cathedral, Letterkenny, and the second was published in 2001, entitled Cathedral of S.S. Eunan and Columba, Letterkenny, Co. Donegal.
Parish life at St. Eunan’s Cathedral
Everyone is welcomed to visit starting from 1 pm on Sunday afternoon till 8:30 pm on Friday evening. Enjoy the worship at St. Pius X Adoration Chapel and feel how the place is blessed with the Adorers. This place is found near St Eunan’s Cathedral on its left side. Visit Loreto Convent and you will find this chapel on its grounds.
A meeting was held between the Lay Apostolate for Perpetual Eucharistic Adoration, Fr. Francis and Bishop Seamus Hegarty to discuss with parishioners how to arrange the Perpetual Adoration in 1987. By the end of 1988 on 4 December was the opening of the Adoration Chapel. Gerry Burke is the current chairman of a Committee, which supervises everything at the Chapel on a daily basis.
The Charismatic Prayer Group at the Cathedral
The conference room at the Cathedral is where these group members meet at 8 pm every Thursday, but not on Holy Thursday. Activities here vary all day to 9:30 pm, including talking about God’s Word or life, the experience we gain in life, and doing the prayer of intercession. “Life in the Spirit” seminars and a “Day of Renewal” are held here too.
The Divine Mercy Prayer Group at the Cathedral
St. Eunan’s Cathedral Crib Room is where the group members meet every Tuesday evening at 8 pm and the Divine Mercy picture is where they pray. The “Divine Mercy Sunday” at Medjudorje, that a group of parishioners had heard about when they had been there, gave them the idea of celebrating the exact thing when they returned back home. So, they sought permission in 1987. When the Parish Priest gave them permission, they managed to introduce that to the public by making printed leaflets and one person from Letterkenny, Kathleen McBride, who played an important role in doing so. The following are what the group members generally do:
- They tell God their wishes for themselves, their society, or even the whole world and ask Him to make them come true.
- On the third Tuesday of each month, a Devine Mercy Holy Hour is spent.
- Prayers are held at the main body of St Eunan’s Cathedral in summer. These prayers are found when there are no religious ceremonies in the evening and they are performed on every Tuesday at 7 pm.
Moreover, Sr. Susan, an Evangelist of the House of Prayer that was in Drumkeen, and Fr. Des Sweeney that was from Ramelton, played an important role throughout many years for celebrating the “Divine Mercy Sunday”.
In 1993 the same group tried to get permission to begin the work of the Devine Mercy Prayer Group, so they gathered some written thoughts and prayers that had been written in the Diary of Saint Faustina. They also used printed leaflets. Thanks to Fr. Eamonn Kelly, Divine Mercy Prayer Books were printed and are available until now.
What about the Legion of Mary?
1940 was the year when the first branch of our Lady of Lourdes Praesidium was founded in Donegal. Meetings are held at the Conference Room of the Cathedral every Tuesday morning after Mass. Group members pay a visit to Arch View Lodge Nursing Home every week and talk to the residents after prayers. They also visit Hillcrest Nursing weekly.
Religious Sisters at the Cathedral
The sisters here spread their work all over the world relating to The Loreto Congregation, or The Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary. This place is faithful to the Catholic Church. The sisters here in Ireland are famous for their work especially in schools and they exert great efforts with several ministries in different parts throughout Ireland.
They carry out several activities through their centres throughout the world. They have many apartments and houses, each has a chapel, and you are welcomed to visit with great hospitality.
The sisters here are also a congregation devoted to the Catholic Church. Catherine McAuley was the one who established the Mercy Sisters in Ireland, specifically in Dublin in 1831. Changing the lives of the poor, the sick and the ignorant was the reason behind its foundation. Now, her thoughts and beliefs spread over 9 countries making about 2,077 people spread Catherine’s kindness and love all over the world.
- The Cathedral Choir
8 pm under the supervision of Fr. Michael Carney.
- The Cathedral Children’s Choir
10 am at Mass on the second Sunday of the month. Tony Harvey is the director of this choir.
- The Cathedral Irish Choir
10:00 am at Mass on the first Sunday of the month. Gabrielle Boyle does a great job as director for this Irish choir.
- The Cathedral Folk Choir
6:30 pm at Mass, run by Patrick Doherty. They present a lovely religious performance on Sundays.
- The Unforgettable Saint Eunan’s Choir
10:00 am at Mass on the third Sunday of the month, directed by Frank Breslin.
Note that you are always welcomed to join any of the Choirs
Active Parish Groups
It is the Catholic Marriage Care Service, formerly known as CMAC, which provides people with information and helps them in their marriage. They help them with how to sustain their relationships through hard times and how to maintain a family. It plays an important role in helping those who are getting married in preparing for their big day.
The Following are other groups:
- Cathedral Altar Society
- Charismatic Prayer
- Cathedral Counters
- Legion Of Mary
- Cathedral Collectors
- Extraordinary Ministers Of Holy Communion
- Cathedral Cleaners
- Fatima Rosary
- P.’S Rosary and Benediction (Grandparents, Godparents, etc.)
- Knights of St. Columbanus
- Mary’s Meals
- Divine Mercy Prayer
- Mother’s Prayer
- Ministers of The Word
- Pioneer Total Abstinence Association
- Vincent De Paul ~ St. Colmcille’s Hostel
- Padre Pio Prayer
- Joseph’s Young Priests Society
- Youth 2000 Prayer
- Lifeteen Prayer
Other Support Groups and Organizations
There is a great variety of support groups and organizations at the Cathedral:
- AA MEETINGS
- Good Morning Service Co. Donegal
- CARA House Family Resource Centre
- AL-ANON Meetings
- Gamblers Anonymous
- Living Links
- Narcotics Anonymous
- Recovery International Self-Help Group
Schools & the Cathedral
St. Eunan’s Cathedral warmly works with different types of schools in Letterkenny. For example, it provides school students with great opportunities for making their First Holy Communion in the Cathedral.
- Gaelscoil Adhamhnáin: at Glencar.
- Scoil Cholmcille: on Convent Road.
- Scoil Mhuire Gan Smál: at Sentry Hill.
- Scoil Naomh Fiachra: at IIlistrin.
- Little Angels Special School: at Knocknamona.
- Bernadette’s Special School: on College Farm Road.
- Colaiste Ailigh: Michael Gibbons is the school principal.
- Errigal Colleg: Charlie Cannon is the acting principal of this school.
- Loreto Convent: The school principal is Nora Friel.
- Eunan’s College: The school principal is Chris Darby.
- LYIT, or Letterkenny Institute of Technology: on Port Road.
Sacraments & Funerals at St. Eunan’s Cathedral
Several sacraments and celebrations are held at the parish. Stay up to date with all the details through their website.
- For the Sick & Housebounds: First Friday Calls
On the first Friday of every month, the Priests visit the Housebound and the sick. They never hesitate anyone in need. You can also inform the Parish Office about anyone in need for help or communion on holidays or Sundays.
- Funerals & Graveyard Services:
- Marriage preparations
- Confession or Reconciliation
SUNDAY MASS TIMES
- Saturday Evening Vigil Mass ~ 7.30 pm
- Sunday: 8 am, 10 am, 12 noon and 6.30 pm
- Mass in Irish: Every First Sunday of the Month at 10 am
- Family Mass: Every Second Sunday of the Month at 10 am
- Polish Mass: Every First and Third Sunday of the Month at 4 pm
WEEKDAY MASS TIMES
- (October to May) ~ Monday to Friday: 8 am, 10 am and 7.30 pm
- Saturday Morning: 10 am
- (June to September) ~ Monday to Thursday: 8 am and 10 am.
- Friday: 8 am, 10 am and 7.30 pm
- Saturday morning: 10 am
HOLIDAYS OF OBLIGATION – Mass Times
- Eve of Holidays: 3 pm
- Holidays: 8 am, 10 am, 5.45 pm and 7.30 pm
- If a Holiday falls on a Saturday ~ Mass times will be 7.30 pm vigil, 8 am, 10 am and 12 noon.
- If a Holiday falls on a Monday ~ Masses on the day will be 8 am and 10 am, 5.45 pm and 7.30 pm
- DEVOTIONS take place on Sunday Evenings in St. Eunan’s Cathedral during May and October at 7.30 pm
MORNING PRAYER AND EVENING PRAYER IN THE CATHEDRAL
- (October to May) ~ Monday to Friday: 9.40 am and 7.10 pm
- Saturday morning: 9.40 am
- (June to September) ~ Monday to Saturday: 9.40 am
St. Eunan’s Cathedral has always been a great inspiration that touches the heart. It is the haven for prayers, effective religious groups, wonderful choirs, activities for students, and different services for helping people.
Phone no.: 074-9121021
Parish e-mail: [email protected]
Have you ever been to the Saint Eunan’s Cathedral in Letterkenny? Let us know in the comments below.
Also, don’t forget to check out other related blogs that might interest you: St. Annes Cathedral, Belfast | Down Cathedral- St. Patricks Gave | Armagh Cathedral | The superb Attractions of County Donegal