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Although it is generally accepted, that Christianity existed in Ireland before the arrival of Patrick, the earliest local references to Christianity can be attributed to the chronicles, the 'Tripartite Life of Saint Patrick' and in particular to his determination to travel to Grianan Aileach in the Inishowen Peninsula to convert Eoghan (son of Niall of The Nine Hostages).
His return journey brought him and his followers through the district where churches were founded at Leckpatrick and at Badoney in Plumbridge. Local tradition has it also that a holy well near Magherakeel was where St. Patrick stopped to rest and quench his thirst on returning from a period of Lenten sacrifice on a nearby island on Lough Derg.
In later years, one of the most important ecclesiastical sites to be found within the district, was at Ardstraw. Here St. Eugene presided over a bishopric which comprised the greater part of counties Londonderry and Tyrone as well as Inishowen.
The religious see was eventually transferred to Maghera and then to Derry in 1158. Early religious settlements among others also existed at Donemana, Artigarvan, Magherakeel and Urney while by the fifteenth century, Franciscan friaries were established at Corrick, Pubble, and Strabane.