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4.4 Long Tower Church

The Long Tower Church, like St Augustine’s and Áras Cholmcille, almost certainly stands within the enclosure of the monastic settlement of medieval Derry. It gets its name from a round tower which stood here up to the 17th century. The round tower stood beside the Teampall Mór, Great Church, which was one of the wonders of its day, when it was built in 1163.

Life of Colmcille was written in Irish in Derry between 1150-1182. It gives an account of the saint’s life and his alleged journey around Ireland as he founded churches and monasteries. This and other accounts claim that Colmcille established religious foundations in places such as Moone in County Kildare, Swords in County Dublin and Kells in County Meath. In this period Derry became head of all the Columban churches in Ireland.

While the Norman Invasion curbed the influence of the abbey, it continued to exist until the 16th century, and the Teampall Mór became the medieval cathedral. The building was devastated by an explosion in 1567, when English troops were using it as a gunpowder store.

St Columba’s Church, Long Tower, was built in 1784, and was paid for by both Catholics and Protestants. In the 19th century, the story of Colmcille continued to influence and shape the city and its public buildings. In late 19th and early 20th centuries Fr Willie Doherty enlarged and altered the church, making a modern Teampall Mór. Stained glass, mosaics, and inscriptions on the floor of the church and over the main door all link the church with Colmcille and the founding of the abbey of Derry.

Outside the church is a bullaun stone set in a wall below a calvary scene. Bullaun stones have one or more curved indentations which hold holy water.

The stone was installed here on 9 June 1898 – the saint’s feast day. It had been moved from its original location by St Columba’s Well by Father William Doherty the previous year.

© Alan Sproull

 

  • 4.1 Port na Long (Guild Hall Square)

    In the medieval city, Guild Hall Square was Port na Long - ‘the port of the ships’ on the banks of the Foyle. This is was a main approach to medieval city. It was also the starting point of a medieval pilgrimage described by Manus O’Donnell in 1532, and is the start...

  • 4.2 St Augustine’s Church

    St Augustine’s is a beautiful quiet space on the city walls, and from Easter to the end of September parishioners open the church during the day to welcome visitors. Modern research suggest that St Augustine’s is at or near the site of the earliest monastery church, the dúreigléas or ‘black...

  • 4.3 Áras Cholmcille

    Áras Cholmcille – the St Columba Heritage Centre – is in the grounds of the Long Tower church. It is an ideal place to get an overview of the stories of Colmcille, patron of the city. It has interactive and audio-visual displays and artefacts, and a range of facilities for...

  • 4.4 Long Tower Church

    The Long Tower Church, like St Augustine’s and Áras Cholmcille, almost certainly stands within the enclosure of the monastic settlement of medieval Derry. It gets its name from a round tower which stood here up to the 17th century. The round tower stood beside the Teampall Mór, Great Church, which was...

  • 4.5 St Columb’s Well

    This holy well is the focus for a celebration on 9 June - Colmcille’s feast day. A procession comes down the hill from the Long Tower Church and the well is blessed - the priest asking for protection for the followers of St Columba who ‘walk where he walked, and...

  • 4.6 St Columb’s Cathedral

    It was the first Anglican cathedral built in these islands since the Reformation. The dedication stone for the building of the cathedral is inside the west door and commemorates the Londoners who paid for it, If stones could speake
    Then Londons prayse should sounde
    Who built this church and cittie


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Colmcille

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Colmcille

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