Mary and Music in May
The Ordnance Survey Memoirs of Ireland: Parishes of County Donegal I 1833 to 1835 record, “Principal market town: the town of Bonyfoble or Moville is situated in the townland of Ballynelly. It has a market on a Thursday, chiefly for grain and potatoes, being otherwise but badly supplied. The market place is a square space walled in with lean-to open sheds on two sides and a thoroughfare opening on the road. The shops are small and bad and few of any sort. The town is nearly new and is becoming more important every year as a bathing place for the wealthier inhabitants of Derry, who resort to it during the summer months.” Moville continues to be popular as a seaside resort.
Father Eddie Gallagher, Parish Priest of St Pius X Church in the heart of the town, explains, “The tradition of dedicating the month of May to Mary came about in the 13th century. Some say it was created to replace various pagan cults. The actual reason is that this month is the time when spring is at the height of its beauty. Spring is also connected with nature renewing itself. In her way, Mary gave new life to the world when she gave birth to our saviour Jesus Christ.”
The church is an unusual building balancing its design between historicist and modernist. This landmark was the last work by the illustrious Derry City architect William O’Doherty. The severe windowless modernist monochromatic entrance front is clad in rock faced ashlar granite and randomly coursed rubblestone masonry with concrete quoins and a granite cross. The other elevations are finished in roughcast render. The large side elevation transom and mullion windows are loosely Elizabethan; the rear elevation sash windows are loosely Georgian. The dodecagonal copper clad timber lined roof lantern over the balcony seating is vaguely Victorian. A sycamore St Pius statue greets worshippers in the entrance lobby. Beyond, a Turkish delight rose and lemon hued floral arrangement in front of the altar matches the double height stained glass windows.
A few doors down from St Pius X Church is The Cosy Cottage which gets its name from a garden mural rather than the building itself. It’s a ground floor café with five guest rooms on the upper two floors of a three bay three storey gaily painted townhouse typical of the town. Owners Declan and Sadie Carey relate, “We first opened The Cosy Cottage as a café in 2003 and built up the business to add bed and breakfast and self catering accommodation just 10 years later. Friendly, welcoming, helpful and with everything from food and accommodation to adventure and exploration, that’s The Cost Cottage.” Old postcards show how little Moville has changed since Victorian times.