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St Patrick's Church, Aghyaran, Diocese of Derry.
 

St Patrick’s Church, Aghyaran, was built in 1840, dedicated in 1844, and the Tower added in 1856. This information is given on the memorial stone in the Tower over the main door. It reads:

AD CULTUM

DEI VIVENTIS

HAEC ECCLESIA

A.D. 1840

AEDIFICATA

ET SANCTO PATRICIO

A.D. 1844

DEDICATA

ISTA TURRE

AMPLIFICATA FUIT

A.D. 1856

The Most Reverend Peter McLaughlin, 1819-1840, and the Most Reverend John McLaughlin, 1840-1845, were the Bishops of Derry at the time. During the same period Termonamongan Parish had four Parish Priests in quick succession. Fr. John Higgins was PP in 1839. He is termed “superannuated” in the Catholic Directory for that year, that is incapacitated by reason of old age, and his curates Fr John McCullagh and Fr Anton O’Doherty are termed “Administrators”. He was succeeded by Fr Neal O’Flagherty who died prematurely on the 8th November 1840. He was succeeded by Fr Francis McHugh, who in turn was succeeded by Fr John McCullagh, promoted to Parish Priest in 1841. Did Fr Higgans initiate the building of St Patrick’s Church in spite of his advanced years, or was it Fr Neal O’Flagherty, who tragically did not live to enjoy the fruits of his labour? Was Fr Francis McHugh sent to complete the work, or was Fr John McCullagh the man who really carried through the project.

The present church replaced an earlier one on the site. In 1799 Fr James Mongan built a church at Aghyaran. It was a plain thatched building, 120 feet long and 24 feet wide, and held 900 people. This calculation must have been made for the congregation standind since the present church, measuring 90 feet by 45 feet and with a larger floor space, seats about 500 It would appear that there was an even earlier church on the site. Reference is made to ‘Aghyaran Chapel’ in a legal document from the year 1797, two years earlier than Fr Mongan’s church. The earliest inscribed headstone in Aghyaran graveyard is over Thomas Owens who died on July 19 1791, six years earlier again. This original church may have been built around 1759, the year the church is believed to have been built at Castlesessiagh for the people of Castlederg. It could, indeed, have been built by Anthony O’Flaherty, the noted church builder from Termonamongan.

Until Fr James O’Kane came as PP 1894-1897 there were no seats on the floor of the church. He got about half of it seated, and removed a wooden pulpit which was inside the altar rails. Fr McConelogue PP 1897-1933, afterwards got the remainder of the Church seated. The seats in the gallery were private property of different families of the Parish. After he had completed the renovations work Fr McConelogue made the seats common property.

From Fr. McConelogue’s coming more than one engineer condemned the roof of the church as being unsafe. In the summer of 1927, under the direction of Mr William Doherty, Architect, Derry, Fr McConelogue gave the renovation of the Church to messrs. Sweeney, Builders and Contractors, Strand Road, Derry. As well as the new roof and new ceiling, the renovation work included the building of a new sacristy, a new sanctuary of Carrara marble (high altar, side altar and altar rails), new floors in the Chruch (timber) and in the Tower (concrete), and stained glass windows. The wall and gates along the road and the retaining wall behind the church were also newly built.

The marble altars and one of the holy water fonts and stained glass windows were donated by people of the Parish at home and abroad. Excluding donations, Messrs. Sweeney were paid £8,478-0s-0d for cost of material, labour, and 10%. There was no appeal to the Parish for money except the collection taken up on the day of the Rededication of the Church. The money had accumulated from legacies left to the Parish by Mr. Neil Browne and Miss Jane Browne of Killeter and Mrs. Browne of Strabane, some twenty years previously.

The renovated Church was dedicated by Most Reverend Bernard O’Kane, Bishop of Derry on 8th December 1928.

Fr Francis Cohen of Carndreen was ordained to the Priesthood in St Patrick’s Church for the Diocese of Birmingham by the Most Reverend Dr. Neil Farren on 14th July, 1946. Fr Andrew Dolan of Aghyaran was ordained for the Diocese of Derry by the Most Reverend Dr. Neil Farren on 5th June, 1971.

Electricity came to Aghyaran in 1959 enabling an oil-fired heating system to be installed in 1968. The sanctuary was reorganised for the celebration of the new liturgy in accordance with the decrees of the Second Vatican Council in 1971. The Baptismal Font was placed in the sanctuary in 1984, and the sanctuary furnishings completed with a brass sculpture for the Baptismal Font, brass lectern and brass and wood credence table.

 

 
   
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