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Historic Building Details

HB Ref No:

Extent of Listing:
Church, boundary walls & original gates and gate pillars

Date of Construction:
1920 - 1939

Address :
St Malachy's Roman Catholic Church Nursery Avenue Coleraine Co. Londonderry BT52

Coleraine and Suburbs

Survey 2:

Date of Listing:
28/11/1990 00:00:00

Date of De-listing:

Current Use:

Former Use

Conservation Area:

Industrial Archaeology:





OS Map No:

IG Ref:
C8527 3193

Owner Category

Church - RC

Exterior Description And Setting

A large gabled sandstone Catholic Church in the neo-Romanesque style, dated 1936 and built to designs by Padraig Gregory; situated to the south side of Nursery Avenue in Coleraine town centre. Rectangular plan with side aisles, projecting porch to north and west, semi-engaged square tower to west and sacristy to southwest corner. Pitched natural slate roof with angled ridge tiles, raised stone verges with kneeler stones and cross finials to gables. Cast-iron ogee rainwater goods on a Lombardic stone frieze; cast-iron hoppers and square downpipes. Walling is uncoursed quarry-faced sandstone with flush pointing on a chamfered plinth, having sandstone dressings and angle buttresses with offsets. Windows are paired round-headed leaded-and-coloured glass in ashlar sandstone surrounds with chamfered sills; Celtic rose window to north flanked by semi-engaged colonettes with hood mould on square stops. North-facing gabled front comprises a slender rose window over a projecting porch; louvered vent to apex of gable. Window has carved stone roundels to left and right reading “AD” and “1936” respectively. Porch at ground floor is surmounted by parapet rising to centre and containing a carved stone cross. Romanesque-style portal in sandstone surround with hood mould on square stops, comprises triple recessed archivolt with carved chevron and circular motifs on semi-engaged colonettes, and contains two original round-headed four-panelled timber doors with chevron carved heads and divided by a pair of semi-engaged colonettes. Entrance is accessed by a set of eight stone steps with modern metal handrails. The east elevation has eight sets of paired windows at clerestory level; almost entirely abutted at ground floor by the side aisle, which has seven sets of paired windows divided by buttresses and incorporates entrance vestibule at right (taller). To left and right side of central bay are projecting confessionals each under a sandstone lean-to roof; undercroft to two bays at far right is three windows wide at each, and enclosed by a quarry-faced sandstone wall with coping topped by metal railings. The south gable has a round-headed slender ventilator over tall buttressed projection with Lombardic frieze and a set of three slender arch-headed niches. The west elevation has irregular massing, dominated by a large semi-engaged square tower to centre with projecting entrance porch, side aisle having projecting confessional and sacristy to far right; to left are a set of stone steps to undercroft. Sacristy (lower) extends to south and is lit by three windows to west; south face has two sets of paired windows flanking a central projecting porch with modern six-panelled timber door surmounted by a round-headed transom light in a sandstone blocked surround with voussoirs. Tower comprises angled buttresses rising to parapets; Lombardic frieze and three round-headed vented openings at belfry to each face; window at different heights to second stage at north and west face; window to exposed section at ground floor north. Porch has angled buttresses rising to castellated parapet topped by a cross finial and opens to west with a round-headed four-panelled timber door in portal detailed as north; window at left cheek. Setting: Situated on a large site to the south side of Nursery Avenue in Coleraine town centre. Lawned to front with two tarmacadamed pathways to front entrance. Directly southwest of the church is a symmetrical rendered three-bay two-storey Parochial House with single-storey canted bays and projecting entrance porch to front; fronted by shrubbery and with gabled outbuilding to rear. To west of church is a freestanding cast-iron cross with copper detailing. Early stone font also to front of west porch. Site is bounded by mature hedges to three sides, and to north by an uncoursed quarry-faced sandstone wall with chamfered plinth and rounded coping, interrupted by decorative square piers, with corniced caps and semi-engaged colonettes to four corners (some missing); north face of piers with carved two tier stone cross. To northeast is main entrance to front of church, with two gate piers (as described above) supporting metal gates. To northwest of site is a tarmacadamed entry leading to car-park at west, serving church and modern primary school, also to west. Roof: Natural slate Walling: Uncoursed quarry-faced sandstone Windows: Leaded-and-coloured glass RWG: Cast-iron


Gregory, Padraic

Historical Information

St. Malachy’s Church was constructed in 1936-37 and was the third Roman Catholic place of worship to be constructed in Coleraine. The first chapel, known as St. John’s Roman Catholic Church (HB03/15/002) was constructed on the west side of the Bann in 1834-36. The second chapel, also known as St. Malachy’s, was erected in 1836 and was situated in Chapel Square; this chapel was the predecessor of the current church on Nursery Avenue (Ulster Town Directory – 1852). The congregation of St. Malachy’s Chapel continued to meet at Chapel Square for a century; the parish priest resided at the two-storey Parochial House which is located beside, and was constructed prior to the current church. The Irish Builder records that the new church for the congregation of St. Malachy’s was constructed between 1936 and 1937. The church was designed by Patrick (Padraig) Bernard Gregory (1886-1967), a Belfast-based architect who established an independent practise in 1906 and was best known his design of Roman Catholic churches throughout Northern Ireland; in 1936-38 Gregory designed the contemporary Church of St. Anthony on the Woodstock Road, Belfast which is remarkably similar in design to the Neo-Romanesque St. Malachy’s. The foundation stone of the new church was laid in April 1936 and the new building was completed in June of the following year; the construction cost an estimated £20,000 to complete and the work was carried out by J. & R. Thompson, Belfast-based builders (Irish Builder, p. 518; Dictionary of Irish Architects). The fifth edition of the Ordnance Survey map for Coleraine (1949) depicts the church as a rectangular-shaped building which occupies the exact layout of the current structure; the new church was erected a few feet to the north-east of the earlier parochial house and the map records that (by 1949 at least) the former chapel on Chapel Square continued to stand although it was no longer utilised as a house of worship. Having been constructed immediately after the completion of the 1935 First General Revaluation of property in Northern Ireland, St. Malachy’s Church was not valued until the second revaluation which commenced in 1956. The second revaluation set the total rateable value of St. Malachy’s Church at £428 and noted that a schoolhouse located to the north-west of the church was valued at £116; the schoolhouse was known as ‘St. Malachy’s Primary School’ and predated the church, having been constructed whilst the congregation met at Chapel Square. Mullin states that prior to the construction of the first chapels in Coleraine, the Catholics of the town met at a disused store in Queen Street were mass was held (Mullin, p. 109). Rowan states that the current church of St. Malachy was not only the third Roman Catholic Church to be constructed in Coleraine, but was also the last church of any denomination to be erected in the town (by the time he was writing in 1979). Rowan described the church as a ‘powerful neo-Romanesque composition with an offset stumpy tower … half way down one side. Seven-bay nave with paired clerestory windows and a big wheel in the entrance gable.’ Girvan records that the church was constructed in a Hiberno-Romanesque style but criticised the interior of the building noting that the cement walls contrasted sharply with the coved plaster ceiling and curved rear gallery (Rowan, p. 206; Girvan, p. 21). St. Malachy’s Roman Catholic Church was listed in 1990; both the church and parochial house continue to stand, however St. Malachy’s Primary School was demolished sometime prior to the Ordnance Survey map of 1967-68 by which time the school had moved to the current modern building on Beresford Avenue. St. Malachy’s celebrated its 75th anniversary in 2012 and continues to be utilised as a house of worship for the Roman Catholic population of Coleraine. References Primary Sources 1. PRONI OS/6/5/7/2 – Second Edition Ordnance Survey map 1849-50 2. PRONI OS/6/5/7/3 – Third Edition Ordnance Survey map 1904 3. PRONI OS/6/5/7/4 – Fourth Edition Ordnance Survey map 1923 4. PRONI OS/6/5/7/5 – Fifth Edition Ordnance Survey map 1949 5. PRONI VAL/3/B/6/3 – First General Revaluation of property in Northern Ireland 1935 6. PRONI VAL/4/B/5/3 – Second General Revaluation of property in Northern Ireland 1956-1972 7. Irish Builder, Vol. 79 (12 Jun 1937) 8. Ulster Street Directories (1843-1918) 9. First Survey Image – HB03/17/016 (No Date) 10. Ordnance Survey map – 13-13SE (1967-68) Secondary Sources 1. Girvan, W. D., ‘Historic Buildings in Coleraine and Portstewart’ Belfast: Ulster Architectural Heritage Society, 1972. 2. Mullin, T. H. ‘Coleraine in modern times’ Belfast: Century Services, 1979. 3. Rowan, A., ‘The buildings of Ireland: North West Ulster’ Yale: Yale University Press, 1979. Online Resources 1. Dictionary of Irish Architects -

Criteria for Listing

Architectural Interest

A. Style B. Proportion C. Ornamentation D. Plan Form I. Quality and survival of Interior K. Group value

Historic Interest

W. Northern Ireland/International Interest Y. Social, Cultural or Economic Importance


A large free-standing gabled sandstone Catholic Church in the neo-Romanesque style, dated 1936 and built to designs by Padraig Gregory; situated to the south side of Nursery Avenue in Coleraine town centre. Architectural detailing is largely intact and the building houses a relatively well-preserved interior. Occupying a prominent site in Coleraine town centre, with a Parochial House and associated primary school to west, the church has an important social history within the context of the town. Of local interest and social importance, St Malachy’s Catholic Church makes an important contribution to the architectural variety and character of Coleraine town centre.

General Comments

Listing Criteria R - Age; S - Authenticity and T - Historic Importance also apply.

Date of Survey

06 December 2012