St. Mary's Roman Catholic Church (Old) Lavey, Co. Derry


The History of St Mary's Lavey


The beautiful black stone, Gothic Revival style church of St. Mary's, Lavey, County Derry, stands alongside the A42 approximately halfway between the old market towns of Maghera and Portglenone. As the church is built in the townland of Mayogall, it is often referred to by the older generation as "Mayogall Chapel".
The foundation stone of this chapel was laid on Thursday the 2nd May 1872 by the Rev. James McLaughlin, the then Parish Priest of Lavey who had been given special permission to do so by the Bishop of Derry, the Most Rev. Dr. Francis Kelly.
The chapel was opened, although unfinished, on Sunday 6th July 1873 by Dr. Francis Kelly and dedicated to Our Lady of Mercy.
Much of the cost of the building was raised from within the parish. Funds were also raised amongst the Tyne-side Irish communities of Newcastle-on-Tyne, Jarrow, Wallsend, etc., in which many people from this parish had settled. The land for building had been acquired from the Bellaghy Estate and the design and building entrusted to Messrs Tipping and Co. of Castledawson and Magherafelt.

It would seem that the chapel had been practically untouched, other than the erection of the Altars, 1889, and a few running repairs, until during the Pastorate of Rev. James Maguire, P.P. 1958 - 1978, when there was some renovation and extension to the chapel. On the 29th October 1961 the chapel was re-opened by Dr. Neil Farren, Bishop of Derry, after having a new floor and under floor heating installed. At this time we also saw the removal of the original pulpit and altar and the re-arrangement of part of the seating. In October 1974 work started on the new Sacristy at the West gable and the South facing door, commonly known as 'The Men's Door' was widened to facilitate ingress and egress. Despite this work, we can say that the original fabric of the building has, in the main, been left unaltered.

The chapel we know today replaced a chapel which was situated about 100 metres to the North on the opposite side of the road. Part of its ruins are still visible in what is locally referred to as the 'Old Graveyard'.
The chapel in the old graveyard was built in 1802 to replace an old Mass House whose origins went back into Penal times. Much local history and folklore surrounds the building and function of these houses of worship.

 Researched and written by James Moore, Dreenan ( and typed by Canice ).

St. Mary's Roman Catholic Church (Old) Lavey, Co. Derry