st-brecans

St. Brecan's

St Columb’s Park

SAT NAV : BT47 6JY

St Columb’s Park in the Waterside area is a wonderful unspoilt natural oasis in Derry˜ Londonderry. The ruins in the park known as ‘St Brecan’s’ are the only surviving medieval church remains in the urban area. In medieval times the church at this site belonged to the archbishop of Armagh.

 

The present structure is said to have been built by Redmond O’Gallagher (bishop of Derry c.1569 -1602). An older church had been demolished by bishop Nicholas Weston (1466-84) so that he could use the stones to construct a ‘palace’ – which, as it happens, was never built. The surviving ruins, however, may incorporate some earlier features as the site is documented from at least the 12th century. It was probably in use for a lot longer.

 

Little is known about St. Brecan except that he is said to have founded a church in this vicinity (but perhaps actually at nearby Caw – Cluain Catha). St Brecan’s is located on the site of the ancient church of Cluain Í – a name that survives in the anglicised form Clooney. Four miles to the south-east is the related place-name, Tirbracken – Teach Breacáín or ‘Brecans’ church’ – a name that probably dates to between 550 and 700. St Brecan’s feastday was 16 July and such meagre information as we have for him suggests an origin for his cult in east Ulster – now Movilla, Co. Down.

 

Artwork

The bronze sculpture depicts the figure of St. Columba releasing a dove and gesturing across the river towards the city. The long plinth incorporates an illustrative map of the trail including imagery of the sites and churches. The piece incorporates an interpretive panel outlining the history of St. Brecan's and it's significance as the oldest medieval church in Derry˜ Londonderry.
st-brecans Map Detail

St Columba &
St. Brecans

Since the Middle Ages there has been a lot of confusion as to whether this church is associated with St Brecan or with St Columba – a Holy Well dedicated to St Columba near the church is said to have been marked on some older maps. There were no direct links that we know of between Columba and Brecan, but there are a few hints that their cults may have overlapped.