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Derry City has many prominent architectural masterpieces with St Eugene’s Cathedral in the Creggan area of the city being foremost among them. This is the only Roman Catholic cathedral located in County Derry. It is the “Mother Church” for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Derry.
It wasn’t until the Catholic Emancipation Act of 1829, that the possibility of building a Roman Catholic cathedral in Derry could be contemplated. Fundraising for the building of the cathedral took place from 1840 and continued for many years as plans were designed for the building.
Eventually, work commenced on the construction of the cathedral in 1849. The cathedral’s location is next to Francis Street and Creggan Street in Derry. The total cost of building the cathedral amounted to just over 40,000. Money was raised not just in Derry and Ireland, but also in America where around 4,000 was raised. The architect commissioned to design the cathedral was J.J. McCarthy who had already built numerous cathedrals across Ireland. The plan of the cathedral is a simple neo-gothic expression.
The cathedral was officially opened on 4th May 1873 by the then Bishop of Derry, Francis Kelly. The project to build the cathedral’s bell tower and spire was postponed until a further date as no funds were available for the project. At first the cathedral’s windows were made of just plain glass due to lack of funds. It was not until the late 1890s when stained glass windows were installed.
Work on the bell tower and spire began on 13th August 1900, with the contract to build the tower and spire being awarded to Courtney and Co from Belfast. Work was completed on the 19th June 1903 and hence one of the great cathedrals of the Roman Catholic Church was finally finished. Today it is a place of religious worship and professional admiration for design and structure.