The origins of Raphoe are early Christian. St Colmcille founded a monastery here in the C6th and the cathedral is dedicated to Adamnan, or Eunan, a native of Raphoe who became Abbot of Iona in 679.


The town is situated in the fertile heartland of East Donegal; this rich agricultural land has been inhabited and cultivated for thousands of years. Nearby the Beltany stone circle provides a visible link with Raphoe's historic past. The triangular plan of the Diamond is typical of Ulster towns dating from the C17.


In his report to the Ordnance Survey, February 1836, Lt. I.I Wilkinson, described the town of Raphoe:


"The next thing to look at is the beautiful town of Raphoe, which gives title to the diocese, the barony and the parish. They are all named by it. It stands on a beautiful plain on the eastern side of Mongorry Mountain, in the form of an equiangular triangle, having 3 equal sides and, as it were, 3 equal angles. The houses are beautifully arranged, spacious and handsome. The street is wide, well paved and very clean… The bishop's palace stands on the eastern side of the town, in a pleasant demesne containing groves, serpentine walks, plantations and every other variety to please the human mind. A little distance to the north east of the palace is the residence of the dean, in the midst of an enclosed demesne full of groves and plantations with grand fields all beautifully round. Both places indicate as if Heaven itself had designed the place and situations for the use of the pious servants of the Lord." A fair description of the "residence of prelates", which emphasised not only the attractive appearance of the town, but also its ecclesiastical importance.

Raphoe has experienced many changes down the centuries. It has witnessed many battles and sieges as well as times of peace and learning. Periods of prosperity have alternated with those of neglect and decline.
The outline of the town has changed remarkably little down through the years. Today, Raphoe still prospers as a small market town and recent improvements to the Diamond gives it a pleasant and welcoming appearance.

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