Virtual St. Catherines A Virtual Case Study Exhibition of St.Catherine's Church & Graveyard - Killybegs, Donegal Visit a Virtual reconstruction of the
15th/16th Century Historic Church Remains
15th Century Environment Recreated Landscape and bay area re-visualised as pre-industrial medieval Killybegs Photogrammetry : Digitisation of Site Artefacts Historic Environment Reconstruction Immersive Exploration of the Virtual Environment Reconstruction VIRTUAL REALITY Interactive Church & Graveyard Environment to Explore in Virtual Reality

Welcome / Fáilte

Welcome to our virtual exhibition of St. Catherine’s Church and Graveyard which is located in Killybegs in the South-west of County Donegal in Ireland. The remains of St. Catherine’s Church and the surrounding graveyard give us an insight into life in 15th and 16th century Ireland. We are proud to share this rich heritage with you, along with a digital artefact collection and visualisation of the building structure and environment.

Using the latest technology and digitisation methods in heritage we highlight the history of the site and tell the story of the area. Our historical sites and community heritage are at risk of being lost to the passages of time as well as environmental factors. Through the use of technology we can capture this heritage to share with the global community and preserve for future generations.

Community Heritage

It is important to note the role of people and community in developing this project. None of this would be possible without the tireless efforts of the Killybegs History & Heritage Society. As you will see, the remains of the church and site had largely slipped from memory. Only through the efforts of the community was the site preserved and vital work was carried out to save the structure from collapse. As with all historical locations it is the ongoing effort of both local and national groups and organisations which enables sites to be maintained so that we can engage the next generations in their history and heritage.

The Killybegs community have been collaborators on the Virtual St. Catherine’s project and have provided the basis for the history, heritage and stories we present here. We hope this digital exhibition serves as an enhancement to the community’s heritage and as an example of what is possible through co-production. You will find many digital artefacts here including digitised historical documents, photography, 360 degree photosphere tours, photogrammetry and a virtual reconstruction of the Church that can be experienced through the latest virtual reality hardware.


Killybegs (Irish: Na Cealla Beaga) is a town in County Donegal, Ireland. It is located on the south coast of the county, north of Donegal Bay, where the Atlantic Ocean meets the rolling hills of Donegal. Its Irish name Na Cealla Beaga means ‘little cells’, a reference to early monastic settlements. Killybegs is the largest fishing port in the country and on the island of Ireland. From a traditional fishing village to a modern industrial harbour the sea is integral to the heritage and development of Killybegs.

The modern town is located at the head of a scenic harbour and at the base of a vast mountainous tract extending northward. Situated along the route of Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way, Killybegs is a gateway to some of the most remote and rugged coastline in Western Europe, with soaring cliffs, untouched crags, megalithic sites, glaciated valleys and Gaeltacht (Irish-speaking) communities.  

Sustainable Heritage

The preservation of heritage is challenging in the modern world. This is especially true of built heritage such as St. Catherine’s Church in Killybegs.  Common challenges to heritage preservation are environmental, economic and socio—political factors. Sustainable management policy and public awareness are critical to maintaining our shared heritage and ensuring its preservation for future generations.

In the case of St. Catherine’s it is important to note the location of the Church site in relation to the modern fishing harbour. Killybegs is a natural deepwater harbour and thus is an attractive proposition for modern industry. This has brought economic opportunities to the area but it is also important to be aware of the importance of the built heritage.


The site of St. Catherine’s is located in the old medieval town area of Killybegs. In the modern age industry has developed in this area.

It is important that there is a balance between the development of industry and the safeguarding of our heritage.


With the use of digital technology we can visualise the past like never before. By visualising the past, we can make more informed decisions on our shared future.

We hope this virtual exhibition is an engaging experience and helps inform the future management of our built heritage.

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