Monday, 6 August 2012

St. Canice, Faughanvale, Eglinton

The pretty little village of Eglinton in Co. Derry, is thirteen kilometres east of Londonderry, just to the south of the Limavady Road. The Parish name of "Faughanvale" derives from the Irish "nua clonghail", new habitation, and has nothing more than coincidence to do with the name of the River Faughan which flows through it. The Patron Saint is Canice who was born about 517 near Limavady, and who died about 600. Canice founded a monastery in the area. He also founded one at Kilkenny, which means Canice's Church.. He was one of the twelve companions of St. Columba on his journey to Iona. In Scotland he was known as St. Kenneth. Ruins of Faughanvale old church can still be seen.

At the time of the Plantation, in 1615, the Grocers' Company of London was granted a manor of 15,900 acres, (6,435 hectares) around the southern shore of  Lough Foyle. The village which grew up was at first called Muff. The Grocers' Company built a new Church on their estate in 1626. This lasted until 1820 when the Grocers' Company decided to replace it with the current church in Eglinton. Its ruins are adjacent the church.

St Canice's Church in Eglinton was completed in 1826 to a design by John Bowden. It was a rectangular, aisle less four bay hall. North and south transepts were added in 1856, and the chancel was built in 1899 by W.E.Scott of Willsborough in memory of his wife and daughter.

The tower is in memory of his wife and daughter. The tower is topped by four pinnacles at the west est. At its base is the porch, inside which are stairs to the gallery and the loft. The main entrance doors are in memory of the Doherty family, 1973, and the bell has an inscription in memory of the Rev. Arthur Dobbs, Rector, 1912-1930. Inside the baptistery is to the right under the gallery, and there is a corresponding space opposite. The pulpit and prayer desk are to the left at the lower chancel entrance, and the prayer desk and lectern are to the right.

The organ, by Evans and Barr, has two manuals and pedals. The console is in the south transept. The marble steps in the chancel and construction of the tower commemorate Thomas and James Gallagher, 1930. The vestry room and other room are to the left of the chancel.

In the south wall, the window, which has two lights and y tracery, illustrates the 23rd Psalm, and in memory of William and Elizabeth Michaels, 1936. Opposite on the north wall, a similar wundow illustrates the encounter on the Emmanus Road, (St. Luke 24:29), in memory of Meta Robert and Thomas Alexander  Michaels, 1936. The window in the south wall of the transept has tracery, and illustrates the Wise Men and the Shepherds at the Manger. It is memory of James Gallagher of Belfast who died in 1929. Opposite, the window in the north wall of the north transept has three lights, and illustrates the Empty Tomb. It is memory of Thomas Gallagher, who died in 1927.

The east window of three lights was given by Katherine Philips in memory of her father, Edward Scott of Willsborough who died in 1913. On the left is St. Peter, St.John is on the right, and our Lord is in the centre.

On the west wall, a plaque records the re hallowing of the church after extensive renovations on the 16th October 1997. Another plaque adjacent records the instillation of electric lighting in memory of Catherina Michaels in 1948. There is a memorial to Winifred Webster who died in 1992, and a plaque records the donation of the carpet in the area opposite the baptistery in memory of Alexander Thompson and his wife Lucinda. The memorials to those who fell in the Great War are on the north wall, and in the porch. On the south wall Major William Quin of Campsie House, who died in 1922, is commemorated.

On the east wall of the south transept, there is a memorial to Anne, second wife of Thomas Scott of Willsborough who died in 1840, and to Katherine, the third wife who died in 1857, and to Thomas Scott himself who died in 1872. Katherine Phillips who died in 1934, is commemorated, and a plaque records the instillation of amplification in memory of the parents of Robert Carson and James Moore in 1984. On the west wall of the north transept, Edmund Leckey of Longfield Lodge, Eglinton who died in 1917 is commemorated, on the east wall, there is a memorial  to the Rev. James Christie, Perpetual Curate of Faughanvale from 1823 until his death in 1846.

In the chancel, on the north wall, there is a memorial to Elizabeth Burnside who founded the Sunday School in the parish, and who died 1907, and on the east wall, a plaque marks the association of the North Irish Brigade with the parish from the 1st April 1960 to the 1st of April 1964. On the south wall of the chancel, there is a memorial to Margaret Davidson who died in 1903, and on the east wall, a brass plaque notes the donation of the hymn board in memory of Mammie Ruth in 1987. In the upper section of the chancel, on the north wall, a monument records the erection of the chancel in 1899 in memory of Georgina  and Annie Scott, wife and daughter of W. E. Scott of Willsborough. Another plaque records the renovations already mentioned in memory of Thomas and James Gallagher, 1930. On the south wall of the inner chancel there is a memorial to John Michaels who died in 1948, and to his brother who died in 1956.

There was a close association between the Parish of Faughanvale and the nearby military airfield in the 1940s and 1950s. In August 1941, during the Second World War, the airfield at Eglinton began to be used as an RAF fighter base. On 1st May 1943, RAF Eglinton was loaned to the Royal Navy, and on the 15th May that year, it was commissioned as HMS Gannet.

To acknowledge worship by personnel of the Royal Naval Air Station of Eglinton from 1943 to 1959, the Ensign and crest of HMS Gannet are on the east wall of the chancel.

There were some distinguished families in the parish as can be seen from the windows and memorials. In 1696, the Rev. Gideon Scott, a chaplain in the army of William III, bought the Willsborough estate in the townland of Donnybrewer in the parish. The name Willsborough derives from the name of the King, who was apparently pleased by the sermon which he had heard Mr. Scott preaching! He was the ancestor of Major W. E. Scott of Willsborough. The Michaels and Gallaghers were benefactors of the church in the 1930s. Mrs Eliza Michaels who died in 1936, was a sister of Thomas Gallagher of the tobacco firm of Gallaghers.

The large and prominent burial monument in the graveyard belongs to the Spencer family who lived in the 18th century. They had a direct ancestral link with the Spencers of Althrop, Northamptonshire, of which family, the late Diana, Princess of Wales, was a member.


  1. Great article and site I know the area well I was born about a mile from where Thomas and Martha Gallaher had their Cornmill and where young Thomas left to start his tobacco empire
    The family as you probably know lived in the Glen House in Eglinton Village

    1. Thank you very much for your kind comments. I must say that your blog is also of the highest quality. Good work.

  2. Very interesting information. Thank you. My ancestors, Thomas Major and his wife Margaret McLean Major were from this area, I believe, and came to America about 1740 with others of their family, the Paisley and McLean families. I hope to visit one day.