Until the discovery of this item contained in the Londonderry Standard, reporting on the opening of the new 2nd Donagheady Presbyterian Church, Donagheady parish, Co. Tyrone, nothing was known of the construction, or the names of the contractors. The church is located in Sandville townland.
The first Presbyterian meetinghouse in Donagheady parish was erected in 1672 drawing families from both Donagheady and Leckpatrick parishes. Following the death of the minister, REV. THOMAS WENSLEY in 1736, a dispute arose amongst the congregation regarding the choice of a new minister. An inability to reach a decision and disputes over seating arrangements divided the congregation, culminating in a riot during a church service. The congregation was divided in 1741 into the First and Second Congregations, each with their own minister and meetinghouse in the immediate neighbourhood.
The two congregations re-united in January 1933 to become DONAGHEADY PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH with the congregation worshipping in the 2nd church.
The old church, having become unsafe, was taken down, and the present stately and commodious building erected on the same site in 1856. At the time of its demolition the old church was T‑shaped with the long side wall parallel to the roadway, and having in its centre the pulpit, of wine glass shape, with seat for precentor at the base. There was a gallery over the transept opposite the pulpit, access to which was obtained by stone steps outside the building. The new church is rectangular with the doorway in the gable facing the road. There is a spacious vestibule over which are a committee room housing a large library, and the minister's robing room. A gallery surrounds three sides of the church. The seating capacity is about 700. This, at the first, was barely sufficient, but now a building half the size would comfortably accommodate the united congregations. The stone used was obtained from a quarry in Upper Sollus, and the mason work is exceptionally well done, particularly the gable next the road which is a fine example of large stones perfectly fitted together. Unhappily no statement of particulars of the erection of the building was engrossed in the congregational records, and so we do not know the name of the architect, the cost, or how the work was carried through without any contract.
(Donagheady Presbyterian Churches and Parish- (Rev.) John Rutherford (1953)
OPENING OF NEW 2ND DONAGHEADY PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH
Extracted from the Londonderry Standard September 25 1856
The new Presbyterian Church of Second Donagheady was opened, on the 21st instant, by the REV. JAMES BEGG, D.D., Edinburgh. Although the morning was so exceedingly severe that not only many strangers who intended to be present, but members of the congregation, were absent, the seats were all occupied and the alleys [aisles] filled. The doctor having read and commented on the 100th Psalm, and 6th chapter of 2nd Chronicles, selected as his text the 16th chapter and 19th verse of Mark, and preached a plain but powerful discourse. After sermon, a collection was made, which amounted to about £75, a sum far below what would have been received if the day had been fine, and which, we understand, is being increased considerably by the contributions of parties prevented by the rain from being present. The collectors on the occasion were – WM. HUMPHREYS, ESQ., J.P., Strabane; WM. OGILBY, ESQ., J.P., Liscleen; CAPTAIN BAIRD, R.N.; DOCTOR CLARKE, R.N.; JOSEPH STEVENSON, ESQ., Ardkill; DAVID WILSON, ESQ., Drummaneny; JAMES HENDERSON, ESQ., Lisdillen; MATTHEW J. ALEXANDER, ESQ., Derry; assisted by the following members of the Building Committee, viz.: - ROBERT McCREA; ROBERT ALEXANDER; GEORGE McLAUGHLIN and ROBERT McCLEARY, ESQRS..
The church is a large square building, about 72 feet long and 52 wide, having over the hall [vestibule] a neat and convenient session room and vestry. It has six Gothic windows, surmounted by freestone shields, on each side, two at each end of a similar description, with a large ornamental one over the entrance door. The place was prepared by the MESSRS. BOYD, of this city [Londonderry]; the masonry and plastering contracted for and executed by JOSEPH ORR and SONS, Donagheady; the carpenter work by JOSEPH SMYTH and WILLIAM BAIRD; the painting by the MESSRS. ROBINSON of Derry and the furnishings &c. by MR. CAMPBELL, also of this city; the management of the whole entrusted to a committee, composed exclusively of members of the congregation; to all of whom the Church is largely indebted – more especially to ROBERT McCREA, ESQ., of Grange House and ROBERT ALEXANDER, ESQ., Sandville.
The church is really handsome, substantial and commodious, wanting but a belfry to make it a model after any edifice of a similar description, either in town or country might be constructed. At a meeting of the congregation, held previous to the day of opening, the stipend was raised to £100 a year. A gentleman in Glasgow, at one time a native of the parish, and a member and office-bearer there, sent over a pulpit Bible and Psalm-Book; and the ladies after furnishing the pulpit and vestry, have presented the minister with a splendid pulpit gown and bands. This is as it ought to be. It is only however what we would expect of 2nd Donagheady - a congregation so large, enlightened and respectable, having so eloquent and zealous and popular a minister as the REV. F. J. PORTER. We ought to observe that the music was good – superior to what is generally met with in country congregations – the young people having formed themselves into a choir which sat in front of the precentor, aiding him in leading the congregation.