St Eunan’s Cathedral in Raphoe is the oldest building in County Donegal still in regular use. The earliest fragments are two pieces of a sculptured door lintel which possibly date from as early as the 9th century. In 1622 the cathedral was described as ‘ruinated and all decayed, saving the walls’. However, soon afterwards the cathedral was restored as a Church of Ireland place of worship and continues so to this day.
In the 17th century the diocese of Raphoe was served by a succession of bishops from Scotland. They include Andrew Knox, who had previously been bishop of the Isles in Scotland, was appointed bishop in 1610. He was responsible for introducing many Scottish ministers to the diocese of Raphoe – among them four of his own sons – as well as hundreds of Scottish families.
Within the cathedral is a memorial to Jeneta Houston, the young wife of Dean Archibald Adair. Though dying at the age of only 20 in 1618, the inscription records that she had already given birth to two sets of twins, though only one pair survived.
The adjoining graveyard includes a number of interesting memorials. One of these commemorates Alexander Montgomery of Convoy. He was a major figure in Donegal politics in the 18th century. The inscription on his tombstone records that he died in 1800 having ‘Represented this once Independent County 32 years.’ In the 1770s he had been a strong supporter of the American colonists, earning him the nickname ‘Americanus’. His younger brother Richard fought for the Revolutionaries in America and was killed at the Battle of Quebec in 1775.
Raphoe Cathedral, Raphoe, County Donegal
The cathedral is open most days.