The church, on a prominent hill of sand and gravel, was traditionally founded by St Muiredach O’Heney who may have lived in the late 11th or early 12th century.
It is first mentioned in 1121. This was the medieval parish church, chosen by Archbishop Colton of Armagh as the base for his visitation of Derry diocese in 1397, but abandoned in the 17th century. The nave must date from the early or mid-12th century (the date 474 on the west door was cut in the 1730s). There is a small semi-circular-headed south window and a fine west door, archaic in general appearance, with a massive lintel and sloping jambs, but with a semi-circular arch inside.
The chancel was added in the early 13th century, with three windows, the south with elegant multiple roll mouldings, and a similarly moulded sedile (seat) in the south wall. This was blocked when the east end was remodelled in the 15th century to form a narrow sacristy behind the altar. Unfortunately after excavation the 15th century features had to be covered again to prevent rapid weathering. The exterior east angles have attached shafts with decorated capitals, reset at a lower level than their original eaves height. South-west of the chancel, in the same distinctive masonry, is the small church- or house-shaped mortuary house, traditionally St Muiredach’s burial place. This is the source of the famous Banagher sand which can bring good fortune to members of the saint’s family. East of the church is a simple stone cross and a bullaun stone (outside the graveyard wall), and a second cross stands across the road to the south-west on the townland boundary.
The ruin west of the graveyard gate is the remains of the medieval priest’s strong-house or tower, still standing to gable height in the early 19th century.
Other historic places you can visit: