Raphoe (/ˈræfoʊ/; Irish: Ráth Bhoth) is a town in County Donegal
in Ulster, Ireland. It is the main town in the fertile district of
Donegal known as the Laggan, as well as giving its name to the
Raphoe and also as to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Raphoe
and the Church of
Ireland (or Anglican) Diocese of
Derry and Raphoe.
The Burn Deele (Irish: An Daoil; also spelled in English as the Burn
Dale) is a burn (a small river) that flows a short distance to the
south of Raphoe. The Burn Deele eventually flows, via the village of
Ballindrait, into the
River Foyle just north of Lifford.
5 Beltany Stone Circle
9 Recent history
10 Notable people
11 See also
12 External links
Raphoe, historically Raffoe, comes from the Irish Ráth Bhoth,
which is made up of the words ráth (fort) and both (hut). This likely
refers to clay and wattle huts surrounded with a strong fortified
mound. It is believed these huts were built by monks in the early
The rich agricultural land around
Raphoe has been inhabited and
cultivated for thousands of years,and evidence of this can be seen
through monuments such as the Beltany stone circle, just outside the
town. The stone circle is one of the largest in
Ireland with a
diameter of 44 metres (165 feet) and made up of more than sixty
stones in all. The site is believed to date to around 2000 BC, and
that it was originally an enclosed cairn. Its name is believed to be
linked to the Celtic festival of fertility known as 'Beltane'.
The Diamond, Raphoe.
Around 550 AD
Columba (also known as Colmcille), one of the three
patron saints of Ireland, founded a monastic settlement in the area.
This site was further developed by his kinsman Eunan, who gives his
name to the town's cathedral and is patron saint of the Diocese of
In 1198, John de Courcy, a Norman knight who had invaded
1177, returned to
County Donegal to devastate
Inishowen and on his way
destroyed churches at Ardstraw,
County Tyrone and Raphoe.
The design of the modern town is traced to the
Ulster Plantation of
the early 17th century, when the town was granted to English and
Scottish settlers. It was these settlers who laid out the town with
the 'Diamond' at its centre, in a similar manner to other Plantation
Derry and Donegal.
Built in the 1630s as the Bishop's Palace, the 'castle', which is now
a ruin, was laid siege to during the Irish Rebellion of 1641, captured
by Cromwell's troops in 1650 and was damaged by supporters of King
James II & VII in 1689. Although still awaiting restoration,
Raphoe Castle is probably the most impressive castle in Donegal. In
1633, John Leslie was translated from the Scottish See of the Isles to
become the Bishop of Raphoe. Marrying at the age of 67, absorbing the
Bishopric of Clogher at the age of 90, Leslie dominated the area until
his death, aged 100, in 1671. Feeling threatened in his new location,
he built himself a new palace on a hill overlooking the town using
stone from an ancient Round Tower in 1637. This proved fortuitous when
rebellion broke out in 1641 and the Bishop was forced to shelter in
the "castle", as it has come to be known, until relieved by the
Lagganeer army. Eight years later, Leslie, a Royalist was besieged by
Cromwellian troops. This time, he was forced to surrender but unlike
virtually every other bishop in Ireland, Leslie survived and was
returned to his See at the Restoration in 1660. A leading figure in
the Established Church, Bishop Leslie was no friend of either Catholic
or Non-conformist. In 1664, he ordered four dissenting Presbyterian
ministers to appear before his court, and when they failed to appear,
had them arrested and imprisoned in
Lifford gaol. A century later,
in 1798, the castle was attacked again, this time by the United
Irishmen, three of whom were killed. The castle was destroyed in an
accidental fire in 1838
Raphoe Roman Catholic church.
Main article: St Eunan's Cathedral, Raphoe
St. Columcille and St. Eunan, ninth abbot of Iona, had churches at
Raphoe in the 5h and 6th centuries. Several 9th century blocks of
stone can be found in the porch and in the north wall of the present
cathedral. The south-east corner dates from the 12th century. The
latest building dates from the 1730s. The communion plate is also
Notable bishops include Bishop George Montgomery, first Protestant
bishop 1605-1610, a Scot, who was mainly involved in reclaiming church
lands, and Bishop Andrew Knox 1611-1633, who set about repairing and
rebuilding the cathedral. A stone inscribed "And. Knox II. Epi. Cura",
set in the porch, commemorates him. Bishop John Leslie had formerly
been a soldier and had his own private army which he led into battle.
Bishop Philip Twysden, 1747–1752, spent little time in
squandered the family fortune in London; according to later reports,
he was shot whilst robbing a stagecoach.
Sandy Montgomery, a kinsman of Bishop Montgomery lies within the
churchyard. His inscription reads, "Here lyeth the Body of Alexander
Montgomery Esq., who departed this Life 29 September 1800, aged 78. He
Represented this once Independent Country, 32 years"
Eunan Church of
Beltany Stone Circle
Main article: Beltany stone circle
On the summit of Beltany Hill, just over a mile from
stands one of the finest stone circles in Ireland. Reputedly older
than Stonehenge, it consists of 64 standing stones out of an original
80. The stones range in height from 4 ft to 9 ft (1.2-2.7
metres) while the diameter of the circle is 145 ft (44.2 metres).
To the S E of the circle is a standing stone 6 ft (2 metres)
high. Beltony is a corruption of Baal tine, the fire of Baal; this
suggests that the inhabitants of this area worshipped Baal, the sun
god, and ruler of nature. Tradition tells us that the principal
ceremonies were performed at the summer solstice; a sacred fire was
lit in the centre of the circle of stones, which represented the stars
and fire of the sun god Baal.
The town lends its name to both the Roman Catholic and Church of
Ireland dioceses, which covers nearly all except the very southern
County Donegal including
Inishowen as well as County
Londonderry and northern section of
County Tyrone in Northern Ireland.
Raphoe's status has declined significantly in recent centuries
however, with the
Anglican diocese being merged with Derry, while the
Roman Catholic bishop now has his See in the larger town of
Letterkenny. The Church of
Ireland Cathedral, built on the site of
Columba's monastery, is named for St
Eunan (as is the Roman Catholic
Cathedral in Letterkenny). There is also a Presbyterian Church in
Ireland in Raphoe.
Raphoe railway station opened on 1 January 1909 and finally closed on
31 January 1959.
Royal School Boarding House, Raphoe.
The nearest railway station is operated by Northern
and runs from
Londonderry railway station
Londonderry railway station via
Coleraine to Belfast
Central railway station and Belfast Great Victoria Street railway
station. The strategically important Belfast-
Derry railway line is to
be upgraded to facilitate more frequent trains and improvements to the
permanent way such as track and signalling to enable faster services.
Raphoe has two secondary schools and two primary schools. The Royal
and Prior secondary school is of the Protestant ethos and Deele
College is non-denominational.
In recent years,
Raphoe has come under the media spotlight following
the establishment of the
Morris Tribunal to investigate allegations of
corrupt and dishonest policing in the County by the Garda Síochána.
The Tribunal's second report related to Garda attempts to frame a
local publican, Frankie McBrearty, for the murder of cattle dealer
On 27 August 2005, the first main
Royal Black Preceptory demonstration
in the Republic of
Ireland was held in Raphoe, although local
preceptories have been parading in the county for decades.
Gerry Robinson is an Irish businessman and television personality
currently living in Raphoe. He is the former non-executive Chairman of
Allied Domecq and the ex-Chairman/Chief Executive of Granada. He owns
an estate on the outskirts of
Raphoe named Oakfield Park (often known
locally as Stoney's Estate), which contains a Georgian country house
and a botanical garden with a 15 in (381 mm) gauge
railway, the Difflin Lake Railway. The gardens and railway are open to
Admiral of the Fleet Sir James Hawkins-Whitshed, 1st Bt., flag officer
in the British
Royal Navy who served in the American, French
Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars.
Frank McBrearty, Sr., businessman targeted by police misconduct
Frank McBrearty, Jr., former County Mayor of County Donegal
Chloe Magee, professional badminton player and Olympic competitor
Conor O'Devany, bishop and martyr
Half Hung MacNaghten, Ulster-Scots landowner, gambler and convicted
Sir Gerry Robinson, former non-executive Chairman of Allied Domecq and
the ex-Chairman/Chief Executive of Granada.
List of towns and villages in Ireland
Dunduff Castle, South Ayrshire
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Raphoe.
^ Placenames Database of
Ireland (see archival records)
^ In and Around
Raphoe published 1999
^ Noonan, D: "Castles & Ancient Monuments of Ireland", page 137.
Aurum Press, 2001
^ DeBreffny, D & Mott, G (1976). The Churches and Abbeys of
Ireland. London: Thames & Hudson. pp. 60–61.
^ a b  Archived 25 September 2011 at the Wayback Machine.
^ Noonan 2001, p.146.
^ Beltony Stone Circle. Askaboutireland.ie. Retrieved on 2013-07-23.
Raphoe station" (PDF). Railscot - Irish Railways. Retrieved
Raphoe (074) 91 45493 –. Deelecollege.ie
(2013-04-23). Retrieved on 2013-07-23.
^ Irish Examiner: '
Morris Tribunal condemns garda negligence'; 2 June
2005. Viewed 2008-04-14 Archived 22 August 2006 at the Wayback
^ RTÉ News: '
Royal Black Preceptory holds
Donegal parade'; 27 August
2005. Viewed 2008-04-14
^ Oakfield Park - Trains
Places in County Donegal
County town: Lifford
List of townlands in County Donegal
Category:Mountains and hills of County Donegal
Category:Rivers of County Donegal
Category:Geography of County Donegal