St. Peter's Roman Catholic Church, Drogheda

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Saint Peter's Church
View from West Street
Saint Peter's Church is located in Ireland
Saint Peter's Church
Saint Peter's Church
53°42′55″N 6°21′09″W / 53.715184°N 6.352440°W / 53.715184; -6.352440
Location Drogheda
Country Republic of Ireland
Denomination Roman Catholic Latin Rite
Founded 1793 (1793)
Relics held Saint Oliver Plunket
Status Active
Functional status Chapel of ease
Architect(s) J. O'Neill and W.H. Byrne
Style French Gothic
Completed 1884
Length 161 feet
Width 101 feet
Nave width 65 feet
Height 222 feet
Parish St Peter's, Drogheda
Diocese Archdiocese of Armagh
Province Armagh

St. Peter's Roman Catholic Latin Rite Church is located on West Street, Drogheda, Ireland. Designed by J. O'Neill and W.H. Byrne and built in the French Gothic style of local limestone ashlar in 1884. The church is famous for it tall west gable, rose window and for containing the national shire St. Oliver Plunkett


The view of the nave looking north to the altar

During the time of the Penal Laws, Catholic chapels were barred within a town's walls. Therefore, Drogheda's Catholic chapel was outside the Westgate and was inadequate for the needs of the populace. A plot of land on a suitable site in West Street (Drogheda's main street) was persistently refused by the corporation. Eventually, through the influence of a Mr. Chester, who was a wealthy Catholic, a lease was finally secured.

A ceremony was held for all to witness Richard O'Reilly, Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of all-Ireland laying the foundation stone. Although the occasion was marred by an unseemly interruption, when the Mayor and Drogheda corporation arrived at the ceremony wearing their official regalia, with the Mace and Sword of state being borne before them, to confront the Archbishop. They warned him that a 'Popish Chapel' would not be tolerated within the town walls.

Sir Edward Bellew of Barmeath Castle, a Catholic, stepped forward and convinced the mayor and corporation and their fellow travelers to withdraw. The proceedings continued without further ado and the foundation stone was duly laid.[1]

The first Church on the site was completed in 1793 to a design by Francis Johnston to a cost in the region of £12,000.[2]

Present building[edit]

The façade of St. Peters is an imposing structure in the French Gothic Revival style, built of local limestone. It is one of the most notable buildings on West Street in the town centre of Drogheda. The building from 1793 was partly incorporated into the present building. The tower of the church is very similar to that of St. Patrick's Church in Dungannon, County Tyrone. A detail image of that building is held at the Highlanes Gallery, illustrated on a mid 19th Century (ca. 1861) map of the town created by Isaiah Rowland CE.[3]

The Church is famous for housing the National Shrine to St. Oliver Plunkett, who was martyred at Tyburn in 1681. The shrine is most elaborate and contains the preserved head of the saint. Another showcase displays his shoulder blade and other bones as relics. Also on exhibit is the cell door of Newgate prison in which he spent his last days.

The Church is a huge[clarification needed] tourist attraction but signs urge silence and remind people that they are in a sacred place.[4]


External links[edit]


  1. ^ Drogheda Corporation, Minute Book, fol. 9669
  2. ^ Drogheda: its place in Ireland's history. Ted Greene. 2006.
  3. ^ "Saint Oliver Plunkett". Retrieved 2014-09-13. 
  4. ^ "St Peter's Roman Catholic Church". Retrieved 2014-09-13.