Irish Architecture – St Aengus Church – Burt Co. Donegal

Burt Chapel, wall detailSt. Aengus’ Church in Burt, Co. Donegal, is a prime example of irish architecture. It was completed in 1967 by local award winning architects Liam McCormack and Frank Corr. Over the years the building has been damaged through wear and tear. We uncover the inspiration behind this celebrated church, the current problems it faces, and efforts to raise the necessary funds to repair the damage.

Award Winning Architecture

St. Aengus’ Church is one of the most famous historical buildings in Ireland and was named ‘building of the 20th century’ in 1999 in a poll by the ‘Royal Society of the Architects of Ireland’. This building has been described as a timeless monument, and its stunning design is appreciated by professional architect and the general public alike. Although the church was only built in 1967 its design was so specially crafted that it looks as modern today as it did when it was first completed. 

At the time of its construction the architects persuaded the bishop to change the proposed site of St. Aengus Church. The new site was slightly outside the town and in closer proximity to the historical site of Grianan of Aileach; a ring fort which was built in the middle ages and is a classic example of early Irish Architecture. The churches unique shape was inspired from the above historic building. Sean Harrington, a Derry born architect, in a programme for RTE Radio One’s ‘The Architect’s Eye’ described how McCormack created the church “in dialogue” with the ring fort and created a structure which “looks like it has grown out of the field it is sitting in”.

Burt ceilingThe roof of the church is made of copper and looks like it has been draped over the church. It sits atop of a horizontal row of glass windows and almost looks as if it is suspended from the walls of the church. The cobblestones used in its construction were salvaged from the Derry Docks. Some other distinguishing features of the church include the off centre roof light above the altar, the stained glass designed in the Cubist style by Helen Maloney, as well as the plastered ceiling in the shape of the roof. The circular shape of the church makes reference to “the circle of life”. It is the collection of all of these individually inspired pieces which makes St. Aengus Church one of the finest pieces of Irish Architecture celebrated today.


Restoration of St. Aengus Church

Over the years the church has been damaged through wear and tear. Water is now seeping through the walls and windows of the church, rendering some of the rooms unusable. €300,000 is needed to repair the damage and make other essential repairs. A fundraising committee has been set up and will be running a draw at the end of each month. Tickets are €20 each and are limited to 500 per draw. This draw will run for 3 years, it is hoped that the it will raise the majority of the funds needed for the restoration of this fine example of irish architecture.

St Aengus's Burt in the snow

Below are the contact details of the committee – any donations will be graciously accepted for this project



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