St. Mary's Roman Catholic Church Greenlough, Co Derry


 The graveyard at St. Mary’s Church, Greenlough, looks as if it has grown organically around the small hill on which the church is built. Seen from the road, the headstones lead the eye in stages up to the church itself, which dominates the surrounding landscape, and can be seen not only from the Innisrush road, but also, across the river, breaks on the eye of the traveller coming down the Mullaghnamoyagh road from the cross on Den’s Hill.

The original church at Greenlough was built in 1793. It was thatched and had a clay floor. In 1825 it was re-modelled and slated, and it was rebuilt in 1841. The interior design was changed by Fr. Thomas Maguire (PP 1905-1925). Fr. Charles H. Kerlin (PP 1925-1935) had the walls strengthened and added the buttresses to the side walls. Fr. George Ryan (PP 1935-1941) carried out a further renovation and had the beautiful stained glass windows installed. 

The church is highly significant to the parishioners and the image of the tall building with the bell on the gable above the entrance porch, rising majestically from the hill and graveyard, is an icon in the imagination and memory of the community. For the older parishioners, memories of daily and weekly Mass, and of weddings, baptisms and funerals are even more significant. 

As an icon of persistent faith, the old church and graveyard point to an even more ancient tradition of faith and worship in this area, going back through the late seventh century monastic foundation at Tamlaght O’Crilly to the golden era of the early Irish Church.

Fr Oliver Crilly P.P

St. Mary's Roman Catholic Church Greenlough, Co Derry