It wasn't until the Roman Catholic Relief Act 1829, that the possibility of building a Roman Catholic cathedral in Derry could be contemplated. Fundraising for the building of the cathedral took place from 1840. Work began on the construction in 1849. Money was raised not just in Derry and Ireland, but also in America where around £4,000 was raised. The architect commissioned to design the cathedral was James Joseph McCarthy who had already built numerous cathedrals across Ireland.
The plan of the cathedral is a simple neo Gothic expression. St Eugene's was solemnly opened on the 4th May 1873 and cost a little over £40,000 to build.
The best way to enter is by the great western door. The porch is now home to eight Austrian oak statutes that were originally part of the wooden pulpit (erected 1906). Look above you as you enter the main body of the Cathedral and you will see the organ gallery, which was extended in 1904. The slender columns are crowned by a ring of oak leaves with a dove nestling among them. These are symbols of Saint Columba, Patron Saint of Derry.
Behind the magnificent Telford & Telford organ stands a beautiful stained glass rose window (installed 1920). At the rear of the north aisle is another large stained glass window, this time depicting Saint Columba blessing Derry as he embarked on his journey to Iona. The white Carrara marble font is notable for its spacious dimensions.
The reredos is made of Caen stone and Irish marble and is sculptured in huge relief depicting the 24 Elders with crowns upon their heads, holding harps and adoring the figure of the Lamb. The two groups stand under arched and recessed canopies. The Blessed Sacrament is reserved in a silverplated bronze tabernacle which was installed in 1989. The symbols on the door depict the Lamb of God as well as sheaves of wheat and bunches of grapes. Figures of the Twelve Apostles adorn the sides.
The Bishop Kelly Memorial Window, perhaps the most arresting feature of the Cathedral, is the majestic stained glass window above the sanctuary. It dates from 1891 and beautifully illustrates seven significant scenes from the life of Christ.