That this patron saint of seafarers has found devotees in Ireland’s biggest fishing port is no surprise
But that St Catherine hailed from Egypt, is both unusual and topical, with that country currently so heavily troubled.
She lived in Alexandria in early 300 AD. How she came to be venerated in Killybegs is not exactly clear – but scholars think that this Coptic connection was brought to the western sea front by Egyptian monks via Spain.
Built in the 1400’s – possibly by Mac Swiney Bannaght – for the Franciscan Third Order, who enjoyed expansion in the north-west of Ireland at that time
At such times you need a couple of heroes
Indeed it is the heroic work of the Donegal Historical Society who raised funds to begin the daunting task of saving St. Catherine’s Church
To which many additions and alterations were carried out through the ages
Characteristic of the C16th, these heavy punch-marks identify the arch and transept as being of that time, as opposed to when earlier punch-marks were lighter, and later C17th punch-marks are heavier yet in styleThe C16th was a time of inter-clan skirmishes typical of Gaelic Ireland and was followed by constant battle between the Chieftain Clans and Elizabeth of England
While the jury is out on how exactly these organic whirl patterns are weathered onto ancient lime render?
Thoughts are with those who are currently caught in struggle, the likes of which this corner has witnessed repetitively, hard though it is to imagine from within the quiet embrace of St. Catherine’s graveyard wall.