Architecture of Letterkenny

Architecture of Letterkenny

As with other towns and cities in Ireland, Letterkenny has a history of great architecture. Many examples of ancient architecture remain in the town to the present day - though much has been lost also, through decay and modern development.

Historical structures

St. Eunan's Cathedral

St. Eunan's Cathedral, built between 1890 and 1900 has one of the tallest steeples in Ireland. It is the only cathedral in County Donegal and is located near the town centre on Castle Street. The Cathedral was designed by William Hague from County Cavan. It is built in a light Victorian The cathedral is built in Victorian neo-gothic style. The ceilings are the work of Amici of Rome, while the majestic stained glass windows that illuminate the Sanctuary and the Lady Chapel are by the Mayer firm of Munich.

St. Eunan's College

Another dominant building in the town is the historic St. Eunan's College which was built as a seminary in 1906, using the money left over after the building of the Cathedral and the Parochial House. The college is a three-storey picturesque castle with four round towers at each corner of the building. The school is named after the Abbot of Iona St. Eunan, a native of Donegal and patron saint of the Diocese of Raphoe. It is an all-male education facility which today houses over 850 students.

Donegal County Museum

The Donegal County Museum is housed in the old workhouse and is located on the High Road. It was built in 1843. Each year the museum attracts thousands of tourists, who seek to find out about the history of County Donegal, to the town.

Trinity Presbyterian Church

Trinity Presbyterian Church is located on Main Street on the site of the earliest regular ‘Meeting House’ for Presbyterians, dated with a stone declaring the origin of the congregation in 1640. Presbyterianism in Letterkenny dates back more than 350 years when the Rev. William Semple officiated from 1648 to 1674. The 'Meeting House' then was also on Main Street and was originally probably a large thatched building. The church adopted the name 'Trinity' in 1916.

= Conwal Parish Church =

Conwal Parish Church is located opposite St. Eunan's Cathedral. The Church dates back to the 17th Century. Parts of this Protestant church date from the mid- to late eighteenth-century. It was expanded and extensively altered in the 1860s. The building is believed to have been constructed when a church located at Conwal fell into ruins. The remains of Redmond O'Hanlon are also located on the church grounds.

Modern Structures

An Grianán Theatre

An Grianán Theatre opened in October 1999. The Theatre is the largest theatre in Letterkenny and indeed in the whole of County Donegal. [ [ Largest theatre in County Donegal] ] It is located on Port and has a seating capacity of 383. It also boasts the largest stage in Ireland.

Letterkenny Library and Arts Centre

The Letterkenny Library and Arts Centre is located on St. Oliver Plunkett Road. The Centre opened in 1995 as part of the new Central Library building in Letterkenny, and is an integral part of Donegal County Council's arts provision. It is the first arts centre operated by a local authority in Ireland.

Town Council Offices

In more recent years, Letterkenny has seen more unusual architectural development. The Letterkenny Town Council Offices, known locally as "The Grasshouse", were designed by Donegal-based Antoin MacGabhann Architects and opened in 2003. Standing at the edge of Letterkenny, it is considered by many tourists and locals to be one of the most unusual buildings to be erected in the county for many years. One of its most notable features is its distinctive sloping grass roof situated above a broad band of aluka matt cladding although it is also noticeable for its runway-like ramp to the first-floor concourse. It is said to be a building of international interest. [ [ Archiseek - In the ascendant] ]

Letterkenny Regional Cultural Centre

Letterkenny Regional Cultural Centre is a cultural centre located is located behind An Grianán Theatre in the town and is the leading cultural centre in north-west Ireland. [ [ Leading cultural centre in north-west Ireland] ] The centre was launced on 7 July 2007 and opened on 9 July 2007. [ [ Opening of Cultural Centre] ] The flagship facility was designed by Letterkenny based MacGabhann Architects and is situated on the site of the old council offices. The offices were destroyed in an arson attack but the building has now been transformed into a modern two-storey glass building.

Letterkenny Regional Sports and Leisure Complex

Letterkenny Regional Sports and Leisure Complex is a sports complex located near the town centre. The complex is located near O' Donnell Park and the total cost of the building of the complex was €22.7 million. Construction of the building began in 2002. An open day for the complex was held on May 18 and 19 2007 and the complex opened to the public on Monday 9 July, 2007.

Legal buildings

The constructed Courthouse (1829) dominates the town’s Main Street. However, it is not actually on the Main Street itself, being located jut off it.

The Allied Irish Bank (1835) building (formerly the Royal Bank of Ireland) on Upper Main Street is another notable structure in the town.

Like many provincial Irish towns, Letterkenny has a number of fine buildings housing banks. The Bank of Ireland (1874), designed by Timothy Hevey, is one such structure in the town. Located at the edge of the Market Square on the Main Street, it was originally constructed for the (now defunct) Hibernian Bank.


St. Conal's Psychiatric Hospital

St. Conal's Psychiatric Hospital was built in the early 1860s. It is located across the way from Letterkenny General Hospital and overlooks the Town Park. Today it also houses the HSE's dental clinics, physiotherapy units and mental health facilities.

Georgian architecture

Much Georgian architecture was evident in the town from about the 1800s onwards. Although some has since been demolished, much is still to be found. A terrace of Georgian townhouses may be found at Mount Southwell Terrace, near St. Eunan's Cathedral, towards the centre of the town. More Georgian architure may be found south of the town centre.


As a town situated on a river (the Swilly), and at a crossing point, Letterkenny's bridges are of vital importance to the area. They connect the southern part of Ireland to the most northerly point of the country, Malin Head.

Oldtown Bridge

The Oldtown Bridge was the first bridge built across the Swilly.

Devlin Way

Devlin Way was the first pedestrian bridge built over the River Swilly. The bridge was installed in Letterkenny. The bridge connects the suburban Oldtown area with the town centre. It was designed by local TS McLaughlin Structural Engineers and the ironwork was constructed by Bonnar Engineering. The bridge cost €100,000 to construct. A maroon-coloured cambered steel structure which measures 28 metres long and 2.2 metres wide, the new bridge proves a major impact on the safety of pedestrians, especially OAPs and school-going children. It is lit by lamp cast from iron and it also contains a commemorative stone seat with a plaque. The bridge is neighbour to the much older and well known Oldtown Bridge.

The bridge was officially opened by local councillor Ciaran Brogan. It is named in honour of the Devlin family who live beside the bridge.

See also

**Architecture of Ireland


External links

* [ Letterkenny Architecture]

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