St Columb’s Cathedral

St Columbs Cathedral

St Columbs Cathedral

Widely recognised as the oldest surviving building in the city, St Columbs Cathedral is also reported to be one of the most popular tourist attractions in Ireland, clocking up approximately 80,000 visitors a year according to the Northern Ireland Tourist Board.

The first Cathedral built by the Anglican Church after the Reformation period, and the first non-Catholic cathedral built in Europe, St Columbs makes up one of the most historically-valuable structure in Derry, having witnessed much of the tragedy and joy the city has seen since its inception.

Completed in 1633 by William Parrot, in Planter’s Gothic, the Cathedral is built entirely of stone from local quarries and remained practically unchanged for 150 years until the addition of a beautiful spire, which was slowly completed following signs of structural weakness.

In addition to the Cathedral’s own history, it was built on what ancient maps show as the site of another medieval church dating back to the 1600s and also claims to be built on or near the site of the original Teampall Mór – a part of which is embedded into St. Columbs as a foundation stone.

St Columbs forms an integral part of community relations, taking a leading role in the city’s Two Cathedrals Festival and other civic occasion, while the artefacts lovingly contained within speak of the shared history. Relics include the original keys to the city and portraits of William of Orange as well as Ireland’s oldest collection of bells, presented by King Charles I in 1683.

Special mention should be made of the Siege Heroes’ Mound, where the remains of Siege combatants were ignominuously thrown having been removed from their resting places during restorations. The furious Apprentice Boys demanded the bones be replaced, and the excess dirt was used to create a mound, where an inscribed monument was later added.

St Columbs Cathedral

St Columbs Cathedral

Monastic Settlement

Monastic Settlement

Originally name Doire Calgach, Derry is one of the oldest continuiosly-inhabited places (with the earliest historical referneces dating back from the sixth century) and is the site of St. Columba’s original monestary, although there is some dispute as to the exact location.

According to the 16th century historian Manus O’ Donell and his text ‘The Life of Colmcille’, the saint was studying in Glasnevin when a plague broke out and all students were sent home. Columba was granted land by his king and despite initial reservations, Columba took advantage of the gift and took to Derry to set up his first (and most-loved, according to some) monastery.

Based East of the Foyle, Columba’s Derry was primarily known as a monastic settlement from the 6th to the 11th centuries. Following Columba’s departure for Iona in 563, the monastic settlement remained in the hands of the federation of Columban churches who regarded Columba as their spiritual mentor.

There also exists, even to this day, a historical trail beginning at the Guildhall following the walls (anticlockwise, with the present-day Magazine Street the possible site of an ancient pilgrimage route). some of the stops along the way include:


  1. St. Augustine’s Church -which claims to be the site of both Columba’s original monastery and the first church in Derry, named the Dubh Recles or ‘Black Church’
  2. Long Tower – Site of Derry’s Teampall Mór, the Long Tower contains a collectiin of stained glass windows telling the story of Saint Columba and a facsimile of The Book of Kells, thought to be have been started by Columban monks in Iona).
  3. St. Columb’s Well – according to legend, a child was brought to Columba here for baptism and finding no water nearby, the saint made the sign of the cross over a rock from which water immediately sprang.
  4. St Columb’s Cathedral – housed within this Anglican cathedral is a stained glass window that commemorates Columba in the south-east corner of the Archbishop Alexander Chapel.


The city celebrates Saint Columba annually on June 9th, when St. Columb’s Well is decorated with oak leaves and pilgrims (who travel from the Long Tower to the original Well) also wear these oak leaves on their clothing to show their dedication. The Well, now marked with a decorative well that once provided water for all the houses beneath the walls dating back to 1897, is then blessed in recognition of Saint Columba.

Monastic Settlement

St Augustine’s Church

The View Self Catering Derry

Derry Accommodation

Amazing self catering accommodation in Derry City - sleeps 8!

Four Seasons Self Catering Derry

Derry Accommodation

Four Seasons serviced apartment

Peace Bridge View Derry

Londonderry Accommodation

Serviced townhouse accommodation in the heart of Derry City.

Bogside Bed and Breakfast

Guest House accommodation

Holiday lets in Londonderry City Centre

Beechwood One Self Catering

Self Catering Derry

Self Catering Accommodation in Derry

Beechwood Two Accommodation

Londonderry Holiday Lets

Accommodation in Derry City Centre