Liam McCormick’s Donegal Churches

St Aengus, Burt photographed March 2019 - built 1967

St Aengus, Burt photographed March 2019 - built 1967

I first encountered the work of architect Liam McCormick in my first year of architecture school. We visited the lauded St Aengus’ Church in Burt, followed by Grianan of Aileach - the megalithic hillfort that inspired it - and I was too naive and unsure of myself to be impacted by it.

In 5th year, then, I happened across the Church of the Sacred Heart in Laytown by chance while researching another project. I thought it was a McCormick, with follow up research confirming this. Despite my lack of belief ( I waver between atheism and agnosticism depending on my mood) I felt that tingle of spiritual awe as I sat silently in one of it’s minimalist pews.

The incredible silence of the space, the muted palette of materials and the incredible quality of light despite the dull Irish winter day.

With this decade old encounter - coupled with the oncoming uncertainty of Brexit making such things potentially more difficult - I have decided to embark on a pilgrimage to visit all seven of McCormick’s Donegal Churches in a weekend. I have mapped them out, including an eighth ‘bonus’ church located on the Northern side of the border. Any results - photos, films, journal entries of worth - will be published here following the pilgrimage. However, this is mainly for myself, an act of hitting the reset button after a turbulent 2018.