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Very little is known of the history of
the Church in pre-Reformation days in the area now forming
the parish of St. Patrick's. It is recorded that there
was a church situated on the banks of the Ebroch burn
near the site of the present Barrwood Quarry.
In his History of Kilsyth, Rev. P. Anton records that
Lady Livingston, kinswoman of the first minister of
the Reformed Church, Rev. Alexander Livingston, was
excommunicated because she refused to comply with the
opinions of the Reformed Church. The Glasgow Presbytery
was dissatisfied also with the conduct of the Rev. Alexander
Livingston for his lack of enthusiasm in the prosecution
of the case and he was deposed from his charge.
Apart from this, there is no further reference to anything
even remotely connected with a Catholic community in
this area until we find, in the Catholic Directory of
1832, that a Catholic Mission had been established in
Campsie at the beginning of the previous year by the
late Bishop Paterson for the benefit of Irish Catholics
employed in that parish and in the neighbouring districts.
At that time it is reckoned that there were some five
Catholic families in the Kilsyth area. In the issue
for 1835 the Catholic Directory refers to the lack of
regular places of worship in the "stations"
i.e. places which were visited regularly by a priest.
There follows a reference to the "villages
of Lennoxtown, Torrance, Kilsyth, Milngavie, Kirkintilloch,
Dunfermline, and the contiguous parts of Fife, Clackmannan
and Perthshire." One priest, the redoubtable
Father Paul Maclachlan, was in charge of this whole
area, so it can easily be imagined how infrequently
he would be able to visit each "station".
This image is the front cover of the Mission
Register of Campsie for Baptisms from 1831 to
1836 and Marriages from 1831 to 1838. It also
contains lists of Parishioners in 1831 in Campsie,
Milngavie, Kirkintilloch and Kilsyth as well as
a few other outlying villages.
The Mission Register is in the possession
of the Scottish Catholic Archives in Edinburgh
and is written in the hand of Fr Paul MacLachlan
who was the only Priest covering a vast area of
any image to get a larger picture
In the Mission Register, toward
the back there is just one page headed...
"Catholic Congregation of Campsie
in which the names of 24 adults are recorded
and a statement "and his 4 children"
against the name of Arthur McGugan.
The great Irish Famine took place beetween 1845
and 1852, which had the effect of displacing
the vast majority of the Irish Catholic families
which then sought refuge and settled in Scotland
- so it is remarkable to think that there were
this many - presumably mainly Irish Catholics
in Kilsyth, even before the famine took hold.
Click on any image to get a larger picture
This was the beginning of an era of industrial expansion
in Scotland, and many Irish workmen began to find employment
in the construction of railways and similar projects.
With the completion of the projects, many returned to
Ireland, but others remained. In 1846-47 the failure
of the potato crop in Ireland forced many Irish families
to emigrate and large numbers came to Scotland to take
up permanent residence. Around 1850 coal and ironstone
began to be worked in the mines on the slopes of the
Kilsyth Hills, and this brought a considerable number
of Catholics to the district from areas as widely removed
as Airdrie, Ayrshire and Ballycastle in Ireland.
By 1846 St. Machan's Church had been opened in Lennoxtown,
some eight miles distant, and local tradition has it
that Catholics from Kilsyth assembled at the Head of
the Haugh Road every Sunday and trudged to Lennoxtown
to hear Mass. After Mass at St. Machan's the good people
of Lennoxtown treated them to a meal before they set
out again on the return journey.
When a priest was needed for any emergency, such as
a sick call, one of the younger men would hurry all
the way to Lennoxtown. Having delivered his message
at the chapel house, he would then hire a conveyance
to carry the priest and himself to Kilsyth.
In the Catholic Directory of 1849 we find the following:
"The Clergyman of Campsie has to attend several
" stations " . . . Kilsyth, where he officiates
once a month at the same hour (9 a.m.). In the latter
town (Kilsyth) there are about 100 Catholics. The first
recorded Mass said there since the so-called Reformation
was on Christmas Day, 1847, and such was the bigotry
of the inhabitants that it was with no little difficulty
that a place could be got in which to celebrate the
sacred mysteries." The priest who said this
Mass was Father Gillon
of St. Machan's, and we have been told that it was celebrated
in a house in Charles Street.
In the Directory for 1850 the information about Kilsyth
is substantially the same as that for 1849, but in the
issue of 1851 we find: "Kilsyth, a 'station'
opened in 1847, where are now 300 Catholics."
Information in the Directories from 1851 to 1861 adds
little to our knowledge, but in that for 1862 is to
be found this reference to Kilsyth : "Attended
once a month from Lennoxtown. Mass at half-past nine.
The Catholics here are about 400; yet there is no chapel.
Mass is celebrated in a small house in which there is
not standing room for half the people who assemble."
For this period, too, we find, in Anton's History of
Kilsyth, the following remark : "In 1862, the
numbers (of Catholics) were so considerable that Father
Gillon of Campsie instituted a Roman Catholic Mission
in Arnot's Hall, Charles Street."
The Catholics of the area, being dissatisfied with the
arrangements then existing for the practice of their
religion, were endeavouring to make efforts for the
support of a priest of their own. Accordingly meetings
were held and a start made to collect funds. Approaches
were then made to Bishop Gillis, Vicar Apostolic of
the Eastern District of Scotland, but probably due to
the scarcity of priests in Scotland at that time, this
first attempt to obtain a priest for themselves was
Statistics for the following year (1863) show that there
had been a further increase of about 200 in the Catholic
population, which now stood at 600. Provision had been
made for the instruction of about 30 children.
The remarkable increase in the number of Catholics at
this time was probably due to the fact that there had
been a considerable expansion of work available. The
Bairds, who were later to develop most of the coalfield
of this area, came to Currymire in 1860. Later, they
took a lease of the Haugh, and from that time till nationalisation
of the mining industry were the main employers of manpower
in the district.
In 1864 Mass was being said every fortnight at half-past
nine and at twelve alternately. Catechism classes were
held at two p.m. when about 60 children attended. The
total population is again given as 600. Renewed efforts
were now made to obtain the services of a resident priest
and we have a copy of the Memorial sent to the Bishop
in 1864, which reads as follows :
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COPY OF PETITION
SENT BY THE CATHOLICS OF KILSYTH FOR
A RESIDENT PASTOR
of the undersigned Catholics of Kilsyth to the
Right Rev. Dr. Gillis, Bishop of Limyra and Vicar
Apostolic of the Eastern District in Scotland.
That on Sunday, January 19th, 1862, we the Catholics
of Kilsyth held a meeting and appointed a committee
to draw up a Memorial to your Lordship praying
for the appointment of a resident clergyman in
Kilsyth. It was also agreed at said meeting that
each working Catholic should lodge with our Treasurer
at least one day's wages as a fund to be placed
at the disposal of any priest your Lordship might
be pleased to send us, who would thus be enabled
to meet all preliminary expenses without entailing
any additional outlay to your Lordship. Towards
the end of the following February our Memorial
was forwarded to your Lordship's address, but
as it remained unacknowledged for the space of
three weeks we were doubtful whether it had reached
its destination. We therefore deemed it advisable
to appoint a deputation to wait personally on
your Lordship who were received most courteously,
and who on representing the true state of matters
here, received a promise from your Lordship that
a Resident Pastor would be sent to us without
further delay. On the strength of this promise
and acting in accordance with the advice given
to the deputation, our committee secured a house
as a suitable residence for the clergyman whose
arrival we daily expected. But as Lent was now
fast drawing to a close and he had not made his
appearance up to Palm Sunday, a second deputation,
consisting of our Chairman and Secretary, proceeded
on Monday of Holy Week to Edinburgh to implore
your Lordship, if possible to give the Catholics
of Kilsyth an opportunity of complying with their
Easter Duties by sending them a priest if only
for three or four weeks whose expenses they would
most cheerfully pay. At length, the Rev. Robert
Innes arrived here on Sunday the 4th of May and
read to us a letter from our humble altar addressed
to him by his Bishop, in which he was ordered
to remain with us for three of four weeks, inspect
the house provided for him by us and inquire into
all our affairs. But Mr. Innes departed the same
day for Campsie and has never since appeared in
Kilsyth, leaving us for weeks in the most profound
ignorance and perplexity. On the 6th June he addressed
us a letter from Crieff demanding £1 expense
incurred by his visit to Kilsyth and informing
us that he had been suddenly instructed by your
Lordship to repair to Crieff and organise that
Mission of 400 Catholics without delay. Thus we
were fooled for four successive Sundays regularly
assembling for Divine Worship to the amusement
and ridicule of our Protestant neighbours, who
can boast of having two clergymen for a far less
numerous congregation than ours.
It was with the deepest sorrow that we contemplated
the change in your Lord-ship's dispositions towards
us by which we were deprived for the space of
eleven weeks, of the inestimable services of any
priest, thus losing the glorious spiritual privileges
held out by our Church to all her children during
the Holy Season of Lent and Easter. We venture
then briefly to refer to our past exertions to
secure a resident pastor here, in order more confidently
to implore your Lordship to take our case into
consideration and to reflect on the great dangers
that we are constantly exposed to as working miners,
of dying without the consolations of our Holy
Religion. We grieve from our hearts to state that
this sad fate has overtaken several of our congregation
through accidents and other causes since July
last and may be the unhappy lot of any of us at
any moment until it please your Lordship to provide
us with a resident clergyman. Through the great
spiritual destitution to which we are abandoned
many of us have grown up in ignorance and vice;
they know nothing of the principles and teaching
of their Holy Religion and could not repeat the
Lord's Prayer or name the Second Person of the
Most Holy Trinity. Matters have lately become
much worse since we have recently been deprived
of our Sunday and Day Schools in which for two
years only, our much neglected children received
some little instruction. Many good Catholics come
amongst us from time to time but as soon as they
ascertain that we have no resident priest they
leave us at once and thus we are deprived of the
advantages we might otherwise derive from their
education, their wealth and good example. Also
there are some amongst us now, who are willing
and are able as heretofore to offer as much as
£20 per annum towards the support of a resident
clergyman as was stated on the last occasion our
deputation waited on your Lordship. Still as we
have nearly doubled in numbers since that time
(of which probable increase your Lord-ship received
timely notice), we are confident of being able
easily to support a respectable clergyman, especially
as the new works which are regularly daily opened
afford every prospect of a still further increase
in our numbers and wealth for many years to come.
We would also beg to direct your Lordship's attention
to the wretched condition of our present place
of worship which is wholly inadequate to our wants
and will still be far too small even after the
contemplated enlargement takes place next June
to afford a majority of us the opportunity of
assisting at the fortnightly service which is
celebrated by the Campsie clergyman under existing
arrangements. Besides the flooring is not at all
secure and may at any moment give way when over-crowded
to the imminent peril of life and limb. Should
your Lord-ship question any of these statements
we pray you to commission any disinterested clergyman
to inquire into our forlorn condition and we are
confident that he will report many other matters
which we have not considered it prudent here to
state. We may mention here that one of the Rev.
gentlemen who at present attend us for a short
time once a fortnight from Campsie, stated from
the altar a few weeks ago " that very few
of the old Catholic inhabitants of Kilsyth were
now to be seen coming out to hear Mass on Sundays."
We therefore implore your Lordship again and again
to send us an energetic priest to instruct our
helpless little ones, to keep open our Sunday
and Day Schools, to guide and give us all advice
and consolation and to bring back to the fold
many of our erring Catholics who have strayed
away through neglect. Finally it is with the greatest
confidence that we, your Lordship's most dutiful
children, humbly pray by the Paternal care which
you have of all that Divine Providence has en-trusted
to your charge, that you will be pleased to remedy
the evils we complain of and high are the hopes
of this congregation at present that this Petition
may meet with a more favourable reception than
did the last, two years ago, and your petitioners
as in duty bound will ever pray, etc., etc.
JOHN NELSON, Treasurer
MICHAEL DEMPSEY, Secretary
Fr. John Galvin |As a result of this petition the Catholics
of Kilsyth finally obtained the services of a resident
priest on 5th January, 1865, when Father
John Galvin was sent from Bathgate to take charge
of the Mission.
His coming to Kilsyth allowed two Masses on Sundays at
nine and half-past eleven. Catechetical instructions were
given at three o'clock. On week-days there was a nine
o'clock Mass and on holidays Mass was at ten o'clock.
It is interesting to note that a day and night-school
were "in good working order." Day school
attendance was about 100. Since as yet there was neither
chapel nor chapel house, Father
Galvin set about securing a site and collecting funds
to build a church and presbytery.
The ground upon which the church was finally built was
granted by Sir Archibald Edmonstone of Duntreath, Bart.
The plans for the church were drawn by Mr. Duncan McFarlane,
Greenock, and the building was supervised by Mr. A. McIntosh
of Glasgow. The building contractor was a Mr. Gow, and
much of the work done was voluntary labour by the Catholics
of Kilsyth and the surrounding area.
This sketch is scanned from 'A
History of Kilsyth and a Memorial of Two Lives' by
Rev Robert Anderson. Interestingly the same pencil
sketch had been used prior to it's publication in
1901 on other items. We have a copy of a pamphlet
of a Church
Bazaar to raise funds dated 1897 using the same
sketch - clearly, it was an image that was in common
usage and circulation.
It's artist is unknown. It is thought that image represents
the Church as it was after the addition of the Bell
Tower in the early 1890's by Canon
Michael J. Turner.
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A date to be remembered by the Catholics of Kilsyth
is 17th March, 1866, for on that day, "the
church was solemnly opened and dedicated to the worship
of Almighty God under the invocation of St. Patrick,
the glorious apostle and patron of Ireland, on the day
of his festival."
"A large and respectable congregation, among
whom were several Protestants, assembled at the forenoon
service. Pontifical High Mass was celebrated by the
Right Rev. Dr. Strain, Bishop of the District, attended
by the Rev. J. Gillon
as assistant priest, the Rev. J. S. McCorry, D.D.,
and the Rev. Jas. Boyle as deacon and subdeacon. The
Rev. J. Galvin
was M.C. After the first Gospel, the Bishop, arrayed
in full Pontificals, preached the dedication sermon
in a most impressive manner and in the evening a lecture
was delivered by the Rev. Dr. McCorry to a numerous
congregation. The solemn services were concluded by
the Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament, which was
given by the Bishop, and thus terminated a day of rejoicing
EXTERIOR OF THE ORIGINAL
ST. PATRICK'S CHURCH
The new church was the focal point,
not only for the Catholics of Kilsyth but also for those
of the villages of Cumbernauld, Condorrat, Croy, Queenzieburn,
Banknock, Banton, Dullatur, Smithstone and Twechar.
| Large numbers of houses had recently been
built in these areas to accommodate the increased population
attracted by the expanding industries. The total Catholic
population of this wide area was around 1,800 at this
A tribute is due to
Father Galvin, this comparatively young priest, who
with energy and zeal assumed the heavy responsibility
of organising the Mission begun by Father
Gillon and within a period of 15 months had built
a church and presbytery and laid the foundations of the
present parish. In a similar way we are indebted to the
people for their sacrifices and efforts in helping him
in such a mammoth project. We can only imagine the difficulties
those first parishioners experienced in paying off the
large debts involved in this undertaking when we remember
how small were the wages received in those times. This
loyalty to, and co-operation with their priest, has been
typical of the people of St. Patrick's
INTERIOR OF THE ORIGINAL
Galvin left Kilsyth in June, 1873, and was succeeded
by Father Jeremiah Bric, from Jedburgh. After a short
stay of six months, the latter was succeeded by Father
John Murphy from Dundee.
was born in Kilteely, Co. Limerick, on 13th October,
1842. He was educated at Thurles and St. John's, Waterford,
and was ordained at St. Andrew's Cathedral, Glasgow,
on 25th November, 1869. His first parish was St. Mary's,
laboured in Kilsyth for 17 years, during which time
he built St. Patrick's School in 1874 and also the first
addition to it in 1896. He added a second storey to
the chapel house, extended the sanctuary and introduced
central heating to the church.
During his stay in Kilsyth the restoration of the Catholic
Hierarchy took place in March, 1878, and when the Cathedral
Chapter was formed in December, 1885, Father
Murphy was made a canon. He was a strong advocate
of a Catholic education for the children of his parish
and was most assiduous in this cause, even to the extent
of teaching the pupils of the upper classes.
Over the years during which he was parish priest, Canon
Murphy consolidated the work done by his predecessor
and increased the stability of the parish by his influence
in matters educational. The high esteem in which he
was held was reflected in the magnificent testimonial
he received from the people of the parish and district
when he was transferred to West Calder in 1889.
Father John Lee from Loanhead succeeded Canon
Murphy, but his stay in the parish was of very short
duration, and in September, 1890, his place was taken
by Father Michael
J. Turner from Queensferry.
was born at Penrith, Cumberland, on 29th May, 1855.
He was educated at Blairs College and at Douai and Paris,
where he was ordained on 26th January, 1879.
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|He was priest-in-charge at Davidsons Mains
and South Queens-ferry before coming to Kilsyth.
While very few parishioners now living can have any vivid
memories of Canon
Murphy, there are many who can recall with affection
Father, later to become, Canon
Turner. He was a remarkably good singer and his voice
was often heard to advantage at social gatherings. His
visits round the widely scattered parish were usually
made on horseback, or with his favourite pony, Roddy,
drawing his "phaeton" carriage. He is also remembered
with gratitude for his extension of the church, which
he enlarged by adding a side aisle and erecting a tower
and installing a bell. To improve the social amenities
he built a billiard hall with games room for the male
section of the parish. After spending 13 years in Kilsyth,
he was transferred to St. Machan's, Lennoxtown, in 1903.
It is well worth mentioning that it was during Canon
Turner's stay in Kilsyth that our neighbouring parish
of Croy was founded in 1902. This event is a very real
indication of the growth of the Catholic population in
Kilsyth and district.
|The next parish priest, Father
Patrick Macnamara, came to us from Penicuik. Father
Macnamara was a native of Ireland, born in the diocese
of Ossory in 1863. He was ordained at the age of 24. He
was also made Canon after taking up his duties here, and
a short time before his death was made a Domestic Prelate
by the Pope. During Mgr.
Macnamara's stay in Kilsyth, he added a top storey
to the school, renovated the church, erected the high
altar and communion rails, and introduced electric lighting
to the church and presbytery in 1929. During 1923, he
had built the first parochial hall, which was unfortunately
completely destroyed by fire in 1933. He immediately set
about securing the present St. Patrick's Hall, which was
ready for use in 1934 after substantial additions to the
existing structure, which made it a suite of halls admirably
suited to the needs of the parish.
This new suite of halls, which was opened in 1934, was
United Presbyterian Church; it had been used latterly
as a variety hall and cinema.
| As part of the purchase he acquired "Mansefield,"
manse to the former church. The rooms of this house were
used at various times in the 1940's to accommodate school
classes of infants.
We may mention here that it was in Mgr.
Macnamara's time that the first curate, Father
Edward Blake, was appointed to Kilsyth parish and
served from 1903 till 1915. [Ed-actually we now know
that Fr Blake was
the 3rd curate, being preceded byboth Fr
John M Murphy and Fr
J Andrew Macintyre.]
He was one of four priests who were curates to Mgr.
Macnamara during his long term of 35 years as parish
priest. The news of the death of this beloved parish priest
was received with deep sorrow and a sense of great loss
when he died suddenly while on holiday at Dun Laoghaire
on 14th August, 1938. Mgr.
Macnamara was succeeded by Canon
Downey in 1938.
Very Rev. Michael Canon Downey was born at Jenkinstown,
Co. Kilkenny, on 20th August, 1896, and was ordained priest
on 14th August, 1921. He passed the whole of his priestly
life in the Deanery of St. Ninian, where he served in
the three parishes of Stirling, Bonnybridge and Kilsyth.
Canon Downey ministered
here from 1938 till his death on 24th December, 1955.
His first concern was to improve the amenities of the
church, and with this in view he built the present presbytery.
At that time it was thought that the ground occupied by
the former presbytery could be used to extend the church
by adding a new aisle to balance the one built in Canon
However, the outbreak of war in 1939 put an end to any
building schemes for the next ten years or more.
In the immediate post-war years the difficulty of obtaining
permits to build and the scarcity of building materials
further delayed the fulfilment of his ambitions in this
An unfortunate outbreak of fire in the church at the beginning
of September, 1954, changed his former plans, and it was
decided that a new church should be built.
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|Although he was frustrated in his attempt
to build the new church, Canon
Downey's energy found an outlet in a different direction.
For long the sporting activities in the parish had been
carried on in the Haugh Park under the auspices of the
Emmet Football Club. This field was quite inadequate for
the purpose, and Canon
Downey decided to extend it. He acquired this ground
and the adjoining Garrel Vale Park which had housed Kilsyth
Rangers F.C. in the pre-war years, and set about building
the present St. Patrick's Sportsfield, which is one of
the finest sports grounds in the county. The old fields
had been very low-lying and required to be raised. This
was accomplished by in-filling with 100,000 tons of pit
debris which raised the surface level in some parts by
as much as 11 feet. The whole area, extending to over
four acres, was enclosed by a wall eight feet high. This
provided space for a full-sized, turfed football pitch,
a smaller ash-covered pitch, two tennis courts, a bandstand,
and dressing accommodation for each sport. This latter
at first consisted of nissen huts because of the difficulty
in obtaining permits to build in the post-war period.
Most of the work was carried out by voluntary labour except
for the actual building of the enclosing walls, and much
credit is due to the Sportsfield committee who organised
this and also raised the funds to pay for the materials.
did not live to see the whole scheme completed, and after
his death the committee honoured his intentions to have
permanent dressing accommodation and built the present
pavilion which is equipped with dressing rooms and showers
on the ground floor and a reception hall on the top floor.
This new sports pavilion was opened officially by Mr.
Harry Sullivan on 11th September, 1963, and the youth
of our parish now enjoy a sportsfield with all the added
up-to-date amenities. Canon
Downey's love of golf and his encouragement to other
would-be golfers among the youth of the parish is reflected
in the growing interest of many of our young men in this
Apart from his exertions in parochial matters, Canon
Downey was active in the cause of the Catholics of
his own and of other - parishes in Stirlingshire by representing
their interests in the Education Committee of the County
of Stirling from 1944 till he died in 1955.
His death on Christmas Eve brought to an end a long period
of ill-health which Canon
Downey had borne with a resignation and patience equalled
only by his diligent attention to his priestly duties
and his determination to build a church more worthy of
the Blessed Sacrament and of his congregation.
Archbishop Gray preached the panegyric at the Pontifical
Requiem Mass on the day of his funeral, which was attended
by representatives from many public bodies, ministers
of local churches, lay representatives of other religious
bodies, priests from all over the Archdiocese and by members
of his own congregation. Of him the Archbishop said: "Canon
Downey will be remembered above all for his priestly
virtue and for the Christ-like charity and kindliness
that his presence always radiated."
It is with love and deep respect that we look back in
memory to a pastor who loved his flock to the extent that
he expressed the wish to have his last resting place amongst
his own people of Kilsyth. Canon
Downey's wish has been honoured by the acquiring of
a plot of ground in the cemetery on which has been erected
a memorial stone and around which his parishioners have
|The next chapter in our history began with
the appointment to the parish in February, 1956, of Canon
McGarvey who, like his predecessor, had been parish
priest in the neighbouring parish of Bonnybridge. Very
Rev. Thomas Canon McGarvey was born in Uddingston
on 1st December, 1896. He received his early education
in Broxburn and his secondary education at Blairs. During
the First World War he served with the Forces as a gunner
in the Royal Artillery. He studied for the priesthood
in Scots College, Rome, and was ordained there in 1925.
is the first native born priest to serve as parish priest
in Kilsyth. During the early years of his charge here,
in his own unobtrusive way, sought to know his parish
and its needs, both spiritual and temporal. He turned
his attention to the young of the parish and saw the need
for some established organisation to cater for the development
of young people, both boys and girls, in the early teenage
years which are perhaps the most impressionable years
of one's life. With this in view he founded the first
Catholic Boy Scout Troop in Kilsyth, and with it the attendant
Cubs for the very young boys. At the same time he promoted
the Guides and Brownies for girls, and so originated what
is to-day a very worthwhile and rewarding part of parochial
|The young men's club, under the expert leadership
of his curates, was given a renewed lease of life in the
Boys' Club. This club filled a much needed want for this
age group, and the activities carried on under its aegis
reflected great credit on all who took part.
Since very little had been done to the church since the
lire in 1954, it was now looking very dilapidated and
the need for a new church was now very evident. Nevertheless
a beginning on the new church could not be made until
a substantial sum of money could be provided, and so Canon
McGarvey set about raising funds for the building
operations. He organised socials on a regional basis so
that each district in the parish would play its part in
this effort. These were very successful and engendered
a spirit of unanimity which has been maintained ever since
in all the activities promoted for the raising of funds
for the new church.
For a long time the priests of Kilsyth had been responsible
for the spiritual welfare of the Catholics living in the
Banknock and Coney-Park districts. Over the long period
during which this arrangement lasted, dating back to 1902,
the County Council had kindly granted the use of Banknock
Public School for Mass on Sundays.
| This association came to an end on Sunday,
29th January, 1961, and from 5th February, 1961, the people
from these areas became members of the new parish of St.
In this connection it is worthy of note that Canon
McGarvey, who said the last Mass in Banknock School,
had also inaugurated the new parish while he was still
in charge at Bonnybridge, by saying the first Mass in
Longcroft Public School.
Although the people of these areas now belong to St. Luke's
parish, their children still attend St. Patrick's School
Within a year from this event, there took place an important
development in the history of our own parish. The old
church which had served the needs of the people of Kilsyth
for almost a hundred years was used for the last time
on New Year's Day, 1962. Thereafter the seats were transferred
to the church hall, which was destined to serve as a church
for a period of nearly four years while our new church
was being built.
THE SOLEMN OPENING OF THE NEW ST. PATRICK'S
|With the loss of the hall as a source of
income from dances and other social functions, it was
decided to step up the raising of funds by other means,
and to this end a Church Building Fund Committee was formed
in May, 1962, to devise ways and means of doing this.
After three and a half years the activities of the Committee
have raised the grand total of £28,014 10s. Od.
Much of the credit for this goes to the work of the weekly
collectors, but a great deal has been contributed by private
gifts and donations from other parochial organisations.
A large-scale one-box brick structure surmounted by a
clerestory and an unusual roof was designed by Gillespie,
Kidd & Coia in 1965.
The building of the new
church began on 8th October, 1962, and the laying
of the foundation stone by His
Grace Archbishop Gray took place on St. Patrick's
Day, 1964. A year later, on the same day, we were able
to have the official opening by His Grace, in the presence
of a large congregation which included the Cathedral Chapter,
about fifty priests, and Provost Smith with members and
officials of the Town Council.
We feel that such an occasion warrants a more detailed
description of the event, and we record as follows:
A large congregation was already assembled outside the
church when, with Father
John Callaghan as cross-bearer, the procession of
clergy made its way through the guard of honour provided
by the Boy Scouts, Cubs, Guides and Brownies, from the
presbytery to the door of the new church. The clergy,
numbering about 60 in all, included priests of the archdiocese
and of the neighbouring parishes, Canons of the Cathedral
Chapter, Monsignori, Bishop
Thomson of Motherwell, and His
Grace Archbishop Gray of St. Andrews and Edinburgh.
At the church door, Archbishop
Gray intoned a psalm, the singing of which was taken
up by the girls' choir of St. Patrick's Secondary School,
conducted by Mrs. Allan, before he proceeded to bless
the exterior of the church. When the outside walls had
been blessed, the doors were opened and the priests and
people took up their places in the church for the blessing
of the interior.
After the completion of the blessing, Solemn Pontifical
High Mass was celebrated by Archbishop
Gray, during which Bishop
Thomson preached the sermon. Assisting Archbishop
Gray at the altar was the Right Rev. Mgr. James Monaghan,
V.G., and the deacon and subdeacon were Rev.
David Brown and Rev.
Patrick Kelly, both of this parish. Canon O'Hanlon
and Canon Byrne assisted His Grace at the Throne. The
Rev. Patrick Grady and Rev. Thomas Power were M.C.s. In
the sanctuary were His Lordship Bishop
Thomson (assisted by Rev.
Fr. Anthony), the Right Rev. Mgr. Peter Connelly,
the Right Rev.
Mgr. John Barry and the Right Rev. Mgr. Patrick Quill.
Mrs. Allan conducted the choir in the singing of the hymns
during the Mass and Rev. Fr. McClelland of St. Mary's
Cathedral, Edinburgh, was organist. A choir of priests
sang the Te Deum at the end of the Mass and the whole
congregation joined in the hymn to St. Patrick at the
conclusion of the service. The altar servers were instructed
for the occasion by the parish curates, Rev.
Fr. McCabe and Rev.
We were glad to see among the many priests present Rev.
Fr. Rice another native of the parish—and the
following former curates: Rev.
Fr. McGettigan, of Carrick, Co. Donegal; Rev.
Fr. Brennan, of Blairs College, Aberdeen; Rev.
Fr. Lynch, of Oxgangs, Edinburgh; and Rev. Fr. Reid,
of St. Andrew's Seminary, Drygrange. Rev.
Fr. Sheridan from Croy was also there, with his curates,
Fr. Hanrahan and Rev.
Fr. Henretty. A large congregation of friends and
well-wishers was headed by Provost Robert Smith and members
and officials of the Town Council.
ORDINATIONS AT KILSYTH
|A reception for the guests was held in St.
Patrick's School Hall, kindly lent by the local Education
McGarvey, parish priest, welcomed a company of about
150 and thanked them for their attendance. Provost Smith
expressed the company's pleasure at having been present
on such an historic occasion. The delightful meal and
service of the highest standard was given by Kilsyth Co-operative
Society as their gift to the new church on this singular
Although the church had now been blessed and officially
opened, it was not yet ready for occupation and there
was still a great deal to be done, but the work had to
be interrupted once more when on Passion Sunday, 4th April,
1965, the ordinations of Father
John Gordon and Father
Patrick Brady took place in our own church before
a large assembly of relatives, friends and members of
the parish. His
Grace Archbishop Gray officiated, and the ceremony
was explained by Rt.
Rev. Mgr. John Barry, Rector of St. Andrew's Seminary,
Drygrange. A choir of students from the Seminary sang
during the ordinations. The M.C. was Denis Harvey, a seminarian,
who is also of this parish. This was another historic
occasion in that it was the first time an ordination ceremony
had taken place in the parish, and it will rarely happen
that two members of our congregation will be raised to
the altar of God on the same day in our parish church.
The newly ordained priests said their first Masses in
the new church on Monday, 5th April, 1965, assisted by
who had also availed himself of the occasion to celebrate
Mass for the first time in the new church. Father
McCabe and Father
Bell did likewise.
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|In the evening Father
Gordon and Father
Brady received presentations from the people of the
parish at a very enjoyable function in St. Patrick's School
Hall. On Tuesday morning, Father
Brady celebrated Mass in the school and afterwards
he and Father Gordon
were presented with chalices from the staff and pupils.
In the evening of Tuesday, 20th April, the young priests
were entertained by the U.C.M. and received gifts of confessional
In this, the centenary year of the parish, we had been
honoured by the afore-mentioned visits from His
Grace Archbishop Gray, and another one, two months
later, on the feast of Corpus Christi, gave us great satisfaction.
On the evening of 17th June, 1965, Kilsyth Town Council
gave a civic reception to His Grace, and one of our parishioners,
ex-Provost, Dean of Guild Robert Callaghan, J.P., who
had served in all departments of our local administration
for the past forty years, was given the Freedom of the
Burgh. Tributes were paid to the recipients of these honours
by the civic representatives and by Mr. William Baxter,
M.P. for West Stirlingshire.
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|A striking feature of the function was the
spirit of ecumenism permeating the speeches after the
dinner, which was attended by clergy and lay members from
all the churches in Kilsyth. This was indeed another historic
occasion and a much appreciated compliment to the Catholic
community of Kilsyth and a highlight in the celebration
of the hundredth year of its existence.
Another eventful feature of the centenary year was the
Centenary Pilgrimage to Rome and Lourdes. Preparations
for this had been going on during the two years preceding
the actual pilgrimage in as much as a savings bank was
started so that those who intended going could put aside
money to pay for their expenses. The following article
gives an account of the: experiences of those taking part:
"On Sunday, 18th July, a group of 74 parishioners
left in two buses on the beginning of our journey to Rome.
A large crowd outside the church gave us a great send-off.
At Glasgow we were joined by another bus before continuing
on our way to Prestwick. We left Prestwick at night and
arrived in Rome early on Monday morning and proceeded
to the Pension Domus Pacis outside the city wall but close
to St. Peter's. Each morning and afternoon buses took
us to Rome, where we had guided tours round the four Major
Basilicas, the Catacombs, etc. On the first after-noon
some of our party arrived back from the Catacombs just
in time to see the Holy Father leave the Vatican for his
summer residence at Castel Gondolfo. On Wednesday we left
for Castel Gondolfo for an audience with the Holy Father.
Our V.I.P. pilgrim, Mr. George Motherwell, received a
rosary from His Holiness. The afternoon was spent on the
shores of Lake Albano and then we visited Scots College,
Villa Marino, where we were warmly welcomed by Mgr. Flanagan
and the students and treated very generously, tea or wine
being provided for all. After Benediction we left for
Rome. Next day we visited the New Scots College and were
shown over it by the students. An enjoyable afternoon
was spent there, teas being again provided. Some of the
party spent a day at Assisi, while others went to Ostia
to enjoy swimming in the warm waters of the Mediterranean.
After seven very glorious and enjoyable, though tiring
days, we left for Lourdes, where we did the usual rounds
of devotions. One of the priests in our party had the
privilege of saying Mass at the Grotto, another said Mass
on the High Altar in the Basilica, and a third priest
said his Mass on the St. Pius XI Altar in the Underground
When we arrived back at Prestwick, buses were there to
take us back home to Kilsyth at the end of a very memorable
pilgrimage. One note of sadness was sounded when, five
hours after our homecoming, one of the party, Mrs. Conway,
who had been ill on the way home, received Anointing of
the Sick, and died. Her great wish to see Rome and Lourdes
has been granted."
As the year wore on and the winter months loomed ahead,
we began to feel a certain exasperation over the delays
which were holding up our occupation of the church. The
limitations of the temporary church in the hall were being
borne patiently, but everyone was looking forward to the
comforts and spaciousness of the new church. It was with
tremendous relief and great satisfaction that we finally
heard that we would transfer from the hall to the new
buildings on Sunday, 5th December, the second Sunday of
Advent, 1965. Since then the congregation has, as yet,
hardly had time to adjust itself to its new surroundings,
but as the days go by and the people become more familiar
with the amenities, they will come to appreciate the many
facilities the new church has to offer which were lacking
in the old.
While many older folks may look back with nostalgia to
the first church, the younger ones who are growing up
in the new surroundings will come to associate the new
church with the milestones in their lives, and, for them,
it will have the same aura of sanctity and holiness that
the original St. Patrick's had for those who formed its
The final Centenary Year celebration took place on Tuesday,
28th December, when His
Grace came once again amongst us to celebrate Mass
in the church and thank the people of the parish for the
tremendous efforts they had made in erecting a magnificent
church to the honour and glory of God in the best traditions
of their forefathers, who had made such a wonderful contribution
to the re-establishment of the Faith in this country,
often against overwhelming difficulties.
An account so brief and factual as we have given of the
history of St. Patrick's in no way does justice to its
personalities or to its institutions. A parish is more
than its church, its school and its hall, and although
these are its more permanent features, whose continuing
existence links one generation to another, they by them-selves
would be little more than an indication of the human activity
for which they were brought into being. The events that
led to their existence and the people who took part in
their creation are all part and parcel of the life of
the community, and the activities which are pursued within
the buildings reflect the spirit of the people whose needs
|The various parish priests have been mentioned
and a brief account of the main changes which took place
in the parish life under their guidance. But apart from
the parish priests there were the curates, and while they
inevitably represented their superiors and carried out
the mandates of the priest in charge, they nevertheless
were individuals in their own right and by their personalities
left vivid impressions on the minds of the people which
will not easily be effaced. Of those who have served in
Kilsyth, from Father
Blake down to Father
McCabe and Father
Bell of to-day, we ,are proud to say that all have
been excellent priests and many have been outstanding
personalities, and all are remembered with respect and
While the writer of this article can obviously only speak
from his own experience and personal judgment and others
may have different views I am sure they will allow that
some brief mention might be permitted in this centenary
brochure, of a few curates, as representatives of the
younger priests who did so much by their personal contact
and enthusiasm to make the work of the parish live, especially
for the younger sections.
GARTSHORE MINING DISASTER FUNERAL
Father Harold - Father Murphy
|Of the first curate appointed to this parish,
Father Blake, I
have no remembrance, but to him I owe my introduction
to the Catholic Faith, for it was he who baptised me.
His successor, Father
Dan Murphy, lives in my memory as a slim young man
with a shock of black curly hair, a sharp, ruddy face,
a pronounced Irish brogue and a blackthorn stick. He no
doubt recalls to others memories of other days when the
sympathies of many in this country were very much with
their friends and relatives in the land of their fathers,
for he was an ardent Irish Nationalist. For many the picture
he will bring to mind will be that taken at the funeral
of Dan Coyle, who was killed in the Gartshore disaster,
when Father Murphy
and his successor, Father
Harold, led the procession from the church.
Father Harold, a
very friendly and forthright personality, succeeded Father
Murphy as curate. He was very interested in the young
people of the parish, particularly in those attending
secondary schools and at University. He will long be remembered
for the enthusiasm and energy with which he tackled any
project he undertook and especially for his work as chaplain
to the Boys' Guild.
Another curate of whom many will have vivid memories was
a powerful big man, who for many years almost carried
the parish on his own broad shoulders. He was indefatigable
in visiting the sick - a duty to which he was completely
dedicated, but was equally at home with the young in whose
education he was immensely interested. Over the long years
he spent in Kilsyth, he got to know much about most people's
affairs, often to their advantage. A man of tremendous
energy and enthusiasm, he was generous to a fault, his
one weakness perhaps being his interest in a certain football
FATHER MICHAEL BELL |
FATHER GERALD McCABE
|Some of the priests who served as curates
at Kilsyth were not able to be with us for long periods,
others whose stay was longer were not able to have much
contact with the people. This applied particularly during
the war years when, apart from the fact that the hall
was taken over by the military authorities, rationing
and other restrictions severely limited social activities
in the parish. This, however, did not apply in the case
of Father Brennan,
who was a curate from 1947 to 1961. Of all the priests
who have served here as curates, he is probably the one
about whom most people have most lively memories since
he was in Kilsyth for such a long period and did so much,
in all fields for the benefit of the parish. It is difficult
to know what aspect of his work or personality to stress
most. He was most versatile and efficient in everything
he undertook. Allied to a tremendous drive and dynamism,
he had a wide knowledge of many skills, and was only too
willing to use his know-how to help others. His technical
knowledge was not his only asset, for he was an exemplary
priest and a very gentlemanly person.
Shall those who knew Father
Brennan ever forget his colleague for many years,
In many ways the exact contrast to Father
Brennan in stature, mannerisms and habits - he was
nevertheless in his own way an immensely popular curate,
and his pawky humour and typically Scottish character
endeared him to young and old alike. None was more assiduous
in carrying out his duties, and he is remembered with
affection by all.
Of Father Thomson,
and Father Donaghue,
who served for comparatively short periods, we have pleasant
memories, but we probably always felt that they were destined
for higher things and that we should enjoy their stay
in our midst while we could. We have followed their exalted
careers since they left us with the greatest interest
and feel we have a share in their future success.
was a zealous worker for the young boys of the parish,
and he was very popular among the young people, for whom
he organised dancing and other social activities. He had
a flair for financial matters and could see a way to turn
an honest penny out of most activities he promoted.
Of the present curates we can say that they are entirely
competent and their work for the parish is much appreciated.
McCabe has done a great deal of work for the building
fund and he has succeeded in establishing himself in the
hearts of all as a very hard-working and efficient priest.
Bell is equally successful, but his special success
is with the young people of the parish and he has provided
them with a channel for their excess energies, the benefits
of which will only be fully realised in the years to come.
We feel that, as ever, we are very fortunate to have two
such capable and hard-working curates.