Bishop James McDevitt

McDevittBishop James McDevitt

Bishop of Raphoe: 1871-1879

Bishop James McDevitt was born c. 1831.  He was the son of Daniel McDevitt, a Glenties merchant and hotelier and his wife, Mary O’Donnell. He was educated by his uncle, Fr. James. An sagart rua ‘Ac Daeid, PP Lr Templecrone; at Drumbeigh Classical School, Inver under Patrick McGoldrick; at Letterkenny High School, under Dr Crerand, and at Maynooth (1850-59). After two years’ postgraduate studies, he was ordained in 1859. He was now Professor of Philosophy at All Hallows (a brother Fr John was also a staff member there) until 1871, when he was appointed  bishop of Raphoe.


Archbishop McGettigan consecrated him in the Pro-Cathedral in Letterkenny. Despite poor health, he was quite active. He had an orderly mind, and this was reflected in his administration. He founded the Raphoe Diocesan Society, whose resources still provide for the sick and retired priests. He consecrated the diocese to the Sacred Heart and established the St Vincent de Paul Society in Letterkenny.  In 1873 he exchanged Gweedore parish for Raphoe as a second mensal parish (Letterkenny being the other). The Bishop is in law parish priest of the mensal parish and receives the appropriate revenues. He devoted part of his revenues from Raphoe to the building of the new church, a fine example of the Belfast architect Hevey’s skill.


In Letterkenny he set up the Literary Institute, a social and educational club for men. He interested himself in those issues that were now topical for his flock: tenant right, disestablishment of the Church of Ireland, and education. He and his priests encouraged the development of agriculture and of fishing and the revival of Irish. Unfortunately he was granted but a short reign, dying of pneumonia on 5th January 1879


Information from 'The Raphoe Diocese, a brief History' by Fr John J. Silke, 2000