Church of the Immaculate Conception

 

The Church of the Immaculate Conception is one of the most iconic buildings in Strabane, whose history goes back to the 19th century. Christianity in the area however is reputed to go back much further than that. According to legend, St Patrick is said to have visited the Clonleigh part of the parish during his lifetime and sowed the seeds of Christianity. The Parish of Camus takes its name from the ancient church and monastery of Camus-Juxta-Mourne, founded by St Colgan in the year 586 (the church at Camus was destroyed during the rebellion of 1641).The predecessor to our church at Barrack Street, was that of St John which was completed in 1821 in nearby Townsend Street. Prior to this, services were held in outhouses and in the open air. Hearsay claims St John’s fell down of its own accord following the collapse of the roof while still in use, the date is unclear but this certainly took place prior to 1881.The replacement of St John’s was proposed anD the foundation stone was laid in 1890 and the church completed in 1895. The stained-glass windows and pulpit were added in this century.The church is of cathedral proportion, beautifully located in large attractive grounds at Barrack Street. From beyond the stone and wrought iron perimeter fences and gates, the building creates an impressive sight. The church is gothic in style, resembling 13th century French design, in the shape of a cross and built of rough sandstone and schist drawn from a quarry in the Curley Hill area of the town. It measures 145 feet long by 79 feet at the transept, 60 feet at the nave. The door facings, gable corner stones and windows were acquired in Dungannon and Dungiven. There are six exterior doorways which are deeply recessed with cut stone and moulded panels; all have moulded arches with carved heads and inset polished granite shafts. The main door, made of heavy pine panels, provides a very impressive entrance.

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