Saint Eunan’s Cathedral, Letterkenny-Co Donegal

Saint Eunan's Cathedral

Updated On: April 07, 2024 by   Noha NabilNoha Nabil

When you visit County Donegal, St Eunan’s Cathedral should be on your plan. Explore the ergonomic design of the cathedral built in Victorian neo-Gothic style on a site overlooking the town. It is 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 Saint Eunan’s Cathedral

Saint Eunan’s Cathedral of St. Eunan and St. Columba

This spiritual cathedral came to light with 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 exact location of the current cathedral, another parish church was built due to 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 from Saint Eunan’s Cathedral, Rodger’s Burn site stood in the shape of an old mass rock, and it was 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 when practising the religious rites of Catholicism was prohibited.

Further History of the Cathedral

Construction plans for a cathedral were set by Bishop Daniel McGettigan, who later became an Archbishop, having a specific 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, from 1871 to 1879, and also an Archbishop, he considered building the cathedral. 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 many people near the end of the nineteenth century. The treasures 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. Many poor people also supported the cathedral greatly, and the historical records found in the archives show how hard the parishioners gave money contributions during that time.

Saint Eunan's Cathedral, Letterkenny-Co Donegal

£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. He wondered about the relationship between real religious education and constructing a cathedral in his speech. He also insisted that the cathedral wouldn’t distract attention from urgent education, society, or industry projects.

Continuing with the History of The Place

The cathedral aimed to improve the people’s ideals, lift their spirits, recall pleasant memories, and enrich their souls with Christian manliness, bravery, wisdom and nobility. He also said that to keep 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.

William Hague, a renowned church architect, designed and constructed the cathedral using white Mountcharles stone. James McClay from Strabane was the building contractor during the project’s first five years. Coming from Belfast, as carving contractors, Messrs Purdy and Millard were responsible for the carving process.

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 excellent books that talk 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

  • Adoration Chapel

Everyone is welcome to visit from 1 pm on Sunday till 8:30 pm on Friday. Enjoy the worship at St. Pius X Adoration Chapel and feel 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 how to arrange the Perpetual Adoration in 1987 with parishioners. By the end of 1988, on 4 December, the Adoration Chapel was opened. Gerry Burke is the current committee chairman who supervises everything at the chapel daily.

  • 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 praying intercession. “Life in the Spirit” seminars and a “Day of Renewal” are held here too.

  • The Divine Mercy Prayer Group at the Cathedral

The group members meet in St. Eunan’s Cathedral Crib Room every Tuesday at 8 pm, and the Divine Mercy picture is where they pray. The “Divine Mercy Sunday” at Medjugorje, which a group of parishioners had heard about when they had been there, gave them the idea of celebrating the exact thing when they returned home. So, they sought permission in 1987. When the Parish Priest permitted them, they managed to introduce that to the public by making printed leaflets and one person from Letterkenny, Kathleen McBride, who played an essential role in doing so. The following are what the group members generally do:

  1. They tell God their wishes for themselves, their society, or even the whole world and ask Him to make them come true.
  2. A Devine Mercy Holy Hour is spent on the third Tuesday of each month.
  3. 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 are performed every Tuesday at 7 pm.

Moreover, Sr. Susan, an Evangelist of the House of Prayer in Drumkeen, and Fr. Des Sweeney, from Ramelton, played an essential role throughout many years in 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 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 visit Arch View Lodge Nursing Home weekly and talk to the residents after prayers. They also visit Hillcrest Nursing weekly.

Religious Sisters at the Cathedral

  • Loreto Sisters (IBVM)

The sisters here spread their work worldwide 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 effort with several ministries throughout Ireland.

  • The Spiritual Family Of The Work Of Christ (FSO)

They carry out several activities through their centres throughout the world. They have many apartments and houses, each with a chapel, and you are welcome to visit with great hospitality.

  • Mercy Sisters (RSM)

The sisters here are also a congregation devoted to the Catholic Church. Catherine McAuley 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. Her thoughts and beliefs spread over 9 countries, making about 2,077 people spread Catherine’s kindness and love worldwide.

Parish Choirs

  • 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 welcome to join any of the Choirs

Saint Eunan's Cathedral, Letterkenny-Co Donegal

Active Parish Groups


The Catholic Marriage Care Service, formerly CMAC, provides people with information and helps them in their marriage. They help them sustain their relationships through hard times and how to maintain a family. It plays a vital role in assisting those getting married to prepare for their big day.

The Following are other groups:

  • Cathedral Altar Society
  • Charismatic Prayer
  • Cathedral Counters
  • CURA
  • 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
  • Rainbows
  • 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:

  • Grow
  • Good Morning Service Co. Donegal
  • CARA House Family Resource Centre
  • AL-ANON Meetings
  • Gamblers Anonymous
  • Living Links
  • Rainbows
  • 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 excellent opportunities to make their First Holy Communion in the cathedral.

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.

  1. Baptism
  2. For the Sick & Housebound: First Friday Calls

On the first Friday of every month, the Priests visit the Housebound and the sick. They never hesitate to help anyone in need. You can also inform the Parish Office about anyone needing help or communion on holidays or Sundays.

  1. Funerals & Graveyard Services:
  2. Marriage preparations
  3. Confession or Reconciliation

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


  • (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


  • 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


  • (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, influential religious groups, excellent choirs, activities for students, and different services for helping people.

Contact Details

Phone no.: 074-9121021

Parish e-mail: [email protected]



Have you ever been to 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

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