Background: Dr McLaughlin laid the foundation stone of St Columb’s Church on 29th August 1838. The first Mass was concelebrated in the church by Father McCarron on 3rd January 1841. The church has the following features, tall Gothic style façade to chapel. Ogee arched doorway, recessed with slim columns and cross on door point, carved heads at ends of hood-mould, quatrefoil above. Lancet window either side with carved hood-mould ends. Pinnacles either end of gable and small tower in centre with octagonal spire and corner pinnacles. The church was totally refurbished in 1986 and rededicated by the late Bishop Edward Daly.
Background: St Oliver Plunkett’s church is located in the village of Strathfoyle about 5 miles from Derry city. It was only in the 1950s that a housing estate was established in the area with further construction phases in the 1970s, 80s and 90s. St Oliver Plunkett’s church was built during the 1970s phase.
Background: In the church near the statue to Our Lady is a corner stone which was blessed, in Knock, by the late Pope John Paul II during his visit to Ireland in 1979. Construction for the church commenced in 1980 with the first sod being turned by the Rev Austin Duffy P.P. on 29th March. Work was carried out by a local contractor, and parishioner, Mr Gerry McCormack. The church was dedicated in August 1981
St Mary’s Oratory is a Chapel of Ease for the Waterside Parish in Newbuildings and was built primarily for parishioners in the Prehen and Newbuildings area.
Before the Chapel was built, people went to St Columb’s in the Waterside and on Sundays had to get up at 7:30am to be able to walk up the Half-Mile Hill into St Columb’s for Sunday Mass. Parishioners remember going in to Saturday evening Confessions dressed to kill and then going to the pictures and catching the last bus home.
In 1946, Monsignor Joseph O’Doherty became Parish Priest of Glendermott, Waterside and he was the chief inspiration for the proposal to have a Chapel in Newbuildings. A temporary measure was the building of a Nissen hut structure on land donated by Miss Jean Kerr of Ballyorr House.
This was opened in 1948. The Derry Journal on 9th February 1948 described the opening ceremony of the Chapel, performed by Most Rev. Dr Farren, “as possessing seating accommodation for a hundred and fifty with a beautiful altar of pitch pine, the walls done in cream and the seating of a type that evoked general admiration”. The source of heating was from oil stoves in the middle. Parishioners used to fill the heaters on Saturday evening. The altar and its furnishings originally belonged to the Chapel in Derry Workhouse.
The bishop was assisted by Rev. Hugh Browne, the administrator of St Eugene’s Cathedral and by Fr D. Kelly who were natives of the area.
By 1977/78 it was clear that the Nissen Hut Chapel was no longer adequate and the appointment of Fr James Clerkin as Parish Priest led to a new initiative beginning with a funding campaign. The last Mass in the old Chapel was said in May 1988.
In the 1960s and early 1970s an extensive house-building programme went on in Newbuildings and the population increased greatly. The appointment of Fr Denis McConellogue as curate with responsibility for Prehen/Newbuildings in 1974 began a new phase of development. The old chapel building and its surroundings had fallen into disrepair and he persuaded the Catholic community to refurbish, paint, polish and generally spruce up the Chapel and grounds. The Blessed Sacrament was reserved in the Chapel, local committees of St Vincent De Paul Conference, a Ladies Circle and P.T.A were formed and enthusiasm abounded.
The new building was officially opened in July 1988 and continues to serve a thriving Christian community.
Since 1996, however, changes have had to be made in how parishes are served by a declining number of priests and, in the changes, the Newbuildings area lost the services of a resident curate. Fr Joe Coulter, who was present at the official opening of the new Chapel, was the last curate with direct responsibility for the area. He served for 12 years and was a much loved, respected and enthusiastic minister to the needs of the local community who were saddened to hear of his death on 18th April 2002.