Catholic Church Kilsyth

Croy Priests & Vocations
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Fathers Littleton and McSparran
Fr Littleton (left) and Fr McSparran (right)

The above photos of Frathers Littleton and McSparran are courtsey of St Peter in Chains Ardrossan

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Canon Sheridan Fr Sheridan

Canon Sheridan in 1957 at Corpus Christi in Kilsyth

Fr Sheridan as a younger priest

Canon John Ryan Fr Peter Clinton

Canon John Ryan

Fr Peter Clinton of Auchinstarry.

Canon John Ryan - a sketch by Hugh Johnston

Canon John Ryan by Hugh Johnston of Kilsyth, 2011.

Fr Patrick Sheary

Canon Sherian as an older man

Fr Patrick Sheary

Fr John McLaren Fr John McLaren

Fr John McLaren

Fr John McLaren

Fr Reilly
Fr Anthony Tanzey

Fr Reilly at Corpus Christi in Croy

Fr Anthony Tanzey

Fr John K Hanrahan

Fr John K Hanrahan

Fr Hanranhan'sAnniversary notice

Fr John Charleston as a young man whilst a Church of Scotland Minister at Thornliebank Parish Church Fr John Charleston once he becmae a Catholic Priest

Fr John Charleston as a young man whilst a Church of Scotland Minister at Thornliebank Parish Church

Fr John Charleston after he had become a Catholic Priest and served at Holy Cross Croy as PP.

Fr Charleston in the early part of his ministry in Croy

Fr John Charleston outside the old Chapel House at Croy.

Presentation programme for Fr Tanzey Silver Jubilee Presenation to Fr Sheary

Presentation programme for Fr Tanzey

Silver Jubilee Presenation to Fr Sheary

Silver Jubilee Programme for Fr John McLaren Sr Friel left and Sr McCarrol centre

Silver Jubilee Programme for Fr John McLaren

Sr Anna Friel (left), Sr Cathie McCarrol (centre)
and Sr Nan Friel (right) in Aug 1966.

Fr Henretty - Aug 1967
Sr Ignatius (Elizabeth) Cairns

Fr Henretty - Aug 1967

Sr Ignatius (Elizabeth) Cairns

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Fr Hugh Bradley meets Pope John Paul II

Monsignor Hugh Bradley at a private Mass in the Vatican with Pope John Paul II

Fr Hugh Bradley receives a blessing from Pope John Paul II

Councillor Francis Griffin and Monsignor Hugh Bradley at Holy Cross Croy Centenary Mass in 2001

A local couple meet Pope John Paul II

Holy Cross Croy - 'Inside the Tin Chapel'

Outside Holy Cross Croy - The 'tin chapel'.

Outside Holy Cross Croy - The 'Tin Chapel'.

Holy Cross Croy - The Baptistry
Holy Cross Croy - The Baptistry
Holy Cross Croy - The Main Altar
Holy Cross Croy - The Main Altar
Holy Cross Croy - The nave
Holy Cross Croy - The Nave
The above pictures of Holy Cross Croy are re-published with kind permission from the Scottish Catholic Archive and remain their ©copyright.
Opening of Croy Bell Tower containing the World War 1 Memorial
The Tin Chapel and the Bell Tower

Holy Cross Bell Tower on the Tin Chapel containing The Croy War Memorial at it's opening on 11th November 1922.

The Bell Tower from a differnt angle.
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Croy War Memorial Opening Pg1
Croy War Memorial Opening Pg2
Croy War Memorial Opening Pg3

Croy War Memorial Opening Pg 4

Croy War memorial Opening Pg 5
Croy War Memorial Opening Pg 6
Croy War Memorial Opening Pg 7

Names of the Fallen of all faiths of the district inside Holy Cross Croy Chapel.

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John Cullen's First Communion Certificate

Holy Cross Croy - The Original Chapel in Croy School

The original Chapel in Croy School

The original Chapel in Croy School

Croy Chapel School in 1921 after the fire.

Holy Cross Croy - A First Communion

A First Holy Communion Year Group from c1952

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Holy Cross Croy - Altar Servers

Fr Henretty with Altar Boys at Holy Cross Croy

Back Row l-r: T Morrison, Fr M Henretty, H Dempsey.
Middle Row l-r: D Taggart, A McCourt, J Griffin, B Anderson.
Front Row l-r: J Morrison, J Griffin, D Dailly, H Crainie, J McFadyen.

Obituary of Fr. Peter Clinton, a son of Croy.

Fr Peter Clinton was born at Auchinstarry, near Croy on the 22nd March 1923 and was baptised at Holy Cross Croy. He was brought up in the faith by his dear parents and family. He went to school at Holy Cross primary Croy and then St Ninian’s High School Kirkintilloch.

At the age of fourteen, Peter along with so many others of his generation and birthplace, began his career in the mines. When he lost an eye he had to leave the mines. Because of this, in time, Peter became involved in, of course, bookmaking, which at that time was illegal, though largely tolerated. As a result Peter enjoyed a healthy interest in horseracing and as a result acquired an excellent knowledge of runners and riders.

Priesthood called and in 1961, at the age of 38, he was sent to Campion House, Osterly, into the legendary care of rector Fr Clem Tigar, whom Peter often quoted, and then in 1963 to St Peter’s Cardross.

Peter was ordained when 46 years of age, on the 30th June 1969 at Holy Cross Croy by Archbishop James D Scanlan.

His first appointment was to Our Holy Redeemer’s Clydebank, as an assistant Priest. He loved it there and is fondly remembered. Famously, Peter, because of his horseracing knowledge, was asked to give tips at the men’s society. Reluctantly at first, he did so with remarkable success. Indeed so successful were his predictions that it caught the attention of the Scottish Daily Express who ran a story under the headline ‘Sermon on the Mount!’ about how delighted punters were about cleaning out the local bookmakers thanks to some inspired tipping from the assistant priest. It does not take a huge imagination to guess how that was received at the Curial Offices of the Archdiocese of Glasgow!

It is a curate’s lot to be moved around the diocese as the Bishop sees fit. Peter knew that, but it was with a fairly heavy heart that he left Our Holy Redeemer’s, Clydebank when he was transferred to St Saviours Govan in 1972. Once again however he grew to love the place where he was asked to serve and it’s people. Among other things he would recall stories of visits to the so called ‘Wine Alley’. Here, Peter could be heard wryly muttering one of his catchphrases, ‘Things are getting grimmer and grimmer.

Peter was there for 10 years, enough time to get to know the people of the Parish and to become settled in the community. From there in 1982 he was transferred to St James’ Crookston where he ministered happily as assistant priest for 6 years.

It was with something of a surprise that he found himself being appointed to Holy Cross, Crosshill, in 1988, as assistant priest and chaplain to the Victoria Infirmary. Peter was by this time 65 years of age. Hospital Chaplaincy, at that time, involved amongst others things numerous night calls, i.e. between midnight and 6am at the Victoria, often 2 or 3 nights a week. The Victoria had a busy Casualty ward, as well as many other patients who were in hospital for considerable periods of time and who needed the attention and ministry of a chaplain. All this meant that it was not going to be an easy task. Peter went at it without complaint. He also assisted in the parish as time permitted. Despite the workload Peter was fundamentally content.

As mentioned already Peter had a keen eye for the horses and was a keen student of the Formbook. He was not one to back low priced favourites, but believed that, amongst other things, the careful study of a horse’s lineage, past performances, the going, the draw, the trainer, the jockey, the course and the weather would provide the clues to the obvious outcome. Over the years he was not unsuccessful. His fairy regular trip to the York August Ebor meeting often produced a profit even after travel and board expenses had been paid!

It was not just the horses that took Peter’s attention. He loved sport. Of course he kept an eye on the football, often claiming not to care too much about it. He took particular pleasure from family members who were successful in the sporting arena, most well know of which was his nephew, Pat Clinton who was a European Boxing Champion as well as later winning a World Boxing title.

By 1993 however, it was obvious to Peter that he was slowing down rapidly, with an eye to family responsibilities also, Peter asked the Archbishop if he could retire. Thereafter, Peter lived at the family home at Auchinstarry, with his brother Barney and for a while at the Little Sisters of the Poor, Robroyston. Peter’s family were always very good to him and particularly so in those years of retirement.
Peter died on the 7th April 2011, aged 88 years. A fine crowd of family, friends, parishioners religious and clergy led by Archbishop Conti, came together for a funeral Mass. Monsignor Hugh Bradley, a son of Croy himself, spoke very well and fondly of this lovely priest, a man who was totally dedicated to his vocation, just as he was dedicated to his family and his faith. The faith Peter inherited from his dear parents was the faith he handed on.

Faithful Servant of God. May he rest in peace!

Courtsey of The Scottish Catholic Directory 2012, pages 494 – 495.

Funeral of Fr. Peter Clinton
April 22nd, 2011

On 14 April 2011, Croy bade farewell to a much loved son, Fr. Peter Clinton, who died at the age of 88. The church of Holy Cross, Croy, was crowded for the funeral Mass, concelebrated by Archbishop Conti and a large number of Fr. Peter’s fellow priests. The music of the Mass was supported by the Croy Male Voice Choir and Croy Silver Band.

In the reflection, Mgr. Hugh Bradley opened with a quote from St. John Eudes – “the greatest gift of God’s mercy is to send worthy priests…”, priests to touch and influence people, and Fr. Peter was one such priest. His was a late vocation. He had worked as a miner and a bookmaker before answering the Lord’s call. He loved the Lord and he loved being a priest. The beautiful image from the first reading of the Mass (Daniel 12:1-3) could truly be applied to him as he had indeed instructed many in virtue and, like so many Croy natives, he was a straight talker!

The Mass was a warm, community occasion, with the congregation participating wholeheartedly, and the final lovely touch was the singing of “Take me home” (with its mining links) by the Croy Male Voice Choir as the post-Communion reflection.

Courtsey of St Mungo's Music -

Holy Cross Croy and A History of the Catholic Church in the Kilsyth Area.

(Based upon "Parish Of Holy Cross Croy, A Centenary History 1902 - 2002")

Earlier Times

The name Croy, in Gaelic, is Cruaidh (pronounced Croo-ay), meaning `rocky' or `barren'. Local people know that Croy Hill is indeed a rocky place and this perhaps explains why Croy is so seldom mentioned in ancient history, whether secular or ecclesiastical.

The earliest signs of human settlement in the area date from the first millennium B.C. Archaeological excavations at the site of the Roman fort on the Antonine Wall on Croy Hill in 1975 uncovered traces of a late Iron Age or early Bronze Age palisade, which had doubtlessly protected a primitive community. The same excavations provided ample evidence of a considerably later community dating from around 140 A.D., that of the garrison of Roman auxiliary soldiers and their families. The excavations revealed indications of farming, pottery making, charcoal-burning ovens and of cremation rituals. Previous investigation had already yielded up a pagan altar of Roman origin, the earliest evidence of any form of religious practice at Croy.

As far as is known, Christianity did not arrive in the Croy district until the spread of the evangelising influence of early saints like St. Ninian, (4th century A.D.), St. Blane (5th century A.D.), St. Mungo, St. Columba and St. Machan (6th century A.D.).
St. Machan, being a local saint, is of intrinsic interest. According to tradition he was Scottish, educated in Ireland and was created a bishop while on a visit to Rome. His influence appears to have reached well beyond Campsie, to Lanarkshire, Perthshire and West Lothian. It is thought that he was buried under the altar of his ancient and long-ruined church in Campsie Glen. In 1458, about nine hundred years after his death, he was still well enough remembered for Partick Leche, Chancellor of St. Mungo's Cathedral in Glasgow to erect an altar dedicated to him. It is situated on the north side of the nave, at the third pillar from the roodscreen. Surely the Croy area must have known St. Machan when his name was carried to places much further away.

Several place-names near Croy suggest that Christianity had a foothold in medieval and even earlier periods. Kilsyth reputedly had an early church on the Ebroch Bum near Barrwood Quarry. The name Craigannet in the northern part of Kilsyth parish implies that an ancient chapel once stood there. Similarly, Annathill to the south of Croy most probably once maintained an early chapel, since the word annat (Gaelic form annaid) means a saint's church or a church containing relics of a saint. Likewise, where the letters kil appear in a name, there is a likelihood of an ancient link to a church or monastic cell. It can be argued that local names like Kilmuir (usually spelled Cuilmuir locally) Kilsyth, Kildrum, Kilbowie and Auchenkilns (a corrupted form of the Gaelic words auchen cille, meaning `the field of the [monastic] cell' ), are so linked. Near to Auchenkilns Roundabout is situated the area of Chapelton ('the place of the chapel') well known to Condorrat villagers. It is also interesting to note that old maps show a road running from Chapelton to Seafar and that the Bishop of Glasgow had a summer residence in Seafar close to where Our Lady's High School now stands.

The Croy locality is known to have belonged to the deanery of Lennox in ancient times. More than seventy years ago Father John Charleson, (missionary rector of Holy Cross, Croy 1907-1929 and an enthusiastic antiquarian), held the view that the proprietorship of `the lands of Croy' could be traced back to a grandson of Alwyn, second earl of Lennox in the 13th century. It may even have been that earl who gifted the first Campsie Glen church to Glasgow Cathedral. What is more historically certain is that about that time the Comyn family held sway over this eastern part of the former Dunbartonshire (then a part of Stirlingshire). Comyn had the great misfortune to be killed by his famous rival, Robert the Bruce, in Dumfries High Church. He was aided and abetted in the slaying by one, Sir Malcolm Fleming, who was later to become the Earl of Wigton. As a reward for their adherence to Bruce's cause, the Flemings were granted the Comyn barony of Kirkintilloch, which included Cumbernauld and surrounding territory. It is worth mentioning that there exists a record of a Fleming living in Croy in the 17th century.

The Kirkintilloch church, which served the Comyns and then the Flemings, was almost certainly St. Ninian's Church. The first church of that name in Kirkintilloch had been built about 1140. There was also a chapel dedicated to the Virgin Mary. At the eastern end of the barony, in Cumbernauld, the church which served the owners of Cumbernauld Castle and their tenants was known as a chapel-of-ease closely associated with the Church of St. Ninian in Kirkintilloch. A chapel-of-ease existed at a distance from its mother-church, for the convenience of remote parishioners. Indeed, parts of the existing stonework of that church, now known as Cumbernauld Old Parish Church, belong to the time of the Comyn baronetcy.

Between the 12th and 15th centuries, the Church in Scotland was thriving. Then, there were thirteen dioceses compared with eight at present and Mass was celebrated in every corner of the Scottish kingdom. In Glasgow, hierarchical continuity is traceable from 1115 to the present day, with very few years excepted. It is a measure of the bitterness of anti-Catholic feeling accompanying the Scottish Reformation that, within a single generation, Scotland changed from being a Catholic country to being one where Mass was forbidden under pain of death. In the seventy years between 1546 and 1615, a Cardinal, an Archbishop and three priests were hanged for their faith in Scotland. Papal authority was abolished by law and Parliament decreed that all monasteries and abbeys should be destroyed. By 1611 only four heroic priests were to be found in the whole country. In 1696 all existing Scottish Catholics were ordered to leave Scotland.

During this period of oppression, the Church in Scotland came under the charge of the Congregation de Propaganda Fide which, in due course, attempted to keep the administration of the Church alive by making Scotland into a prefecture administered by a Prefect Apostolic. This form of control lasted from 1653 to 1694 when Thomas Nicolson, a converted Professor of Glasgow University, became the first Vicar Apostolic. A new period of oppression seized the Church in Scotland about this time. It lasted, with varying degrees of intensity, until the relief Bill for Catholics of 1793. The Catholic Emancipation Act of 1829, hard fought for by that great Irish politician, Daniel O'Connell, followed this. Meantime, in Glasgow, a series of priests cared for the pastoral needs of a small and subdued Catholic flock – courageous men like Alexander McDonald, John Farquharson and Andrew Scott. It was Scott who took upon himself the task of building the chapel that grew to become St. Andrews Cathedral, Clyde Street, in 1816.

Times were becoming more tolerant of our faith and two years before the Catholic Emancipation Act, in 1827, Scotland was divided up into three vicariates – the Northern, the Eastern and the Western. Three Vicars Apostolic were appointed to administer the three large districts.

The first Vicar Apostolic for the new Western District was Bishop Ranald MacDonald. Andrew Scott was appointed his coadjutor to assist the bishop with his task. In 1828 Andrew Scott was also consecrated bishop. Four years later, in 1832 he succeeded Bishop MacDonald as Vicar Apostolic of the Western District. Before this event came another seemingly insignificant one which was to prove a momentous catalyst for the growth of the faith in our area.

On 30th November 1830, a group of twelve devout Catholic men gathered in Torrance, near Lennoxtown, to draft a letter to Bishop Scott in his capacity as coadjutor and to Bishop Paterson of the Eastern district. The letter was a plaintif plea begging both their Lordships to find a priest, for their community 'as thair are a great number of Roman Catholicks here.' The nearest place worship to them was then in Glasgow. They were aware that, although they lived close to Glasgow they actually came under the jurisdiction of the Eastern District.

The appeal was successful, for 1831 saw the birth of St. Paul's Mission in Lennoxtown although the actual church building was or completed fifteen years later in 1846.

A further thirty-five years were to elapse before the third missionary rector, Rev. John Magini, 1881 successfully requested of Archbishop Strain of Edinburgh and St. Andrews permission to change the name to St. Machan's honour of the ancient local Scottish saint.

Before 1846 there were very few Catholics our area. The 1845 Statistical account for Scotland records that in the whole extent of Cumbernald Parish there were only seven hundred families total. It went on to state that 'there are 5 or so Irish families, supposed to be of the Roman Catholic faith'.

Besides marking the completion of St. Paul's Church in Lennoxtown, the year 1846 was to be important for another historic reason. That year saw the start of the great Irish Potato Famine. This catastrophe was to be the cause of one million Irish men, women and children leave their native land in the decade between 1846 and 1856. Many thousands of them settled in Scotland bringing with them their strong devotion to the Catholic Church. These immigrants found employment in ironstone and coal mining, in limestone working and in iron and steel production, railway building and dockside labour. In the next few decades, because the area was rich in coal, many of them settled in Kilsyth, Croy, Smithston, Auchinstarry, Drumglass, Craiglinn, Twechar, Condorrat and Cumbernauld.

Between 1831 and 1862, the Catholic Mission of St. Paul's at Lennoxtown had to serve the needs as best as it could of the whole area to the north and east of Campsie. In 1862 Rev. John Gillon from Lennoxtown began a new church mission in Arnot's Hall, Charles Street, Kilsyth to satisfy the spiritual needs of the fast-growing Catholic population in that area.
The number of Catholics in Kilsyth grew rapidly even before numbers were augmented by the building, from the 1860's onwards, of miners' rows at Croy, Smithston, Drumglass, Auchinstarry, Twechar and elsewhere by the Baird Company of Gartsherrie. In 1832 there were about five Catholic families in the Kilsyth area. Between 1849 and 1863 the number had grown from one hundred to six hundred. Remarkably, by 1866, this number had trebled to eighteen hundred due to the availability of employment and housing both in Kilsyth and places south of the Kelvin. The development of a Catholic community in Kilsyth and environs was enhanced by the arrival of Kilsyth's first priest, Father John Galvin, on 5th January 1865. It is not beyond our imagination to picture worthy miners and their families trekking from the outlying villages and rows lying south of the River Kelvin, to attend the 11.30 am. Mass in Charles Street, and, from St. Patrick's Day on 17th March 1866, in the brand new St. Patrick's Church in Lower Craigends.

Although Croy and Kilsyth belonged to different archdioceses, prior to the founding of Holy Cross Parish, the Catholics living across the county border from Kilsyth relied totally for their pastoral and educational care on the Church and school of St. Patrick's in Kilsyth. Writing in 1927, Father (later Canon) Octavius Claeys, the Belgian born first curate of Holy Cross Croy (1903 – 1906), remarked 'who that had a grey hair in his head did not remember the two fathers Murphy [(1) and (2) - ed.] and the genial Canon Turner?'

John Canon Murphy had been parish priest of St. Patrick's from 1873 until 1889 and Michael Canon Turner from 1890 until 1903: (the second Father Murphy was a Kilsyth curate some years later). Many children in those early years owe their education to those two canons. Canon Murphy was responsible for the construction of the first St. Patrick's School building in 1874. Ten years earlier, before Kilsyth even had its own priest, catechism classes were being held and the number of children attending those classes grew from sixty to one hundred with the arrival, in January 1865, of Father John Galvin, the first Kilsyth priest. Certainly, by the 1880's at least, children from Smithston and Auchinstarry were attending St. Patrick's School, which by then was offering a full elementary curriculum. Clearly, the spiritual and educational development of many of our ancestors was nurtured in the Parish of St. Patrick in Kilsyth.

Canon Turner was devoted, not only to the Catholic people of Kilsyth, but very much to those in more distant places. On, foot he visited places as far away as Croy, Twechar, Cumbernauld, Condorrat and Smithston. In his clerical diary for the years 1890-91, he wrote of a sick call at Croy Row, visiting three Catholic families at Turneyhill, near Twechar, calling on a couple in a `mixed marriage' at Cumbernauld, visiting a partially paralysed man in Condorrat and looking in, on one visitation, on half of the homes at Smithston Row, which he called `Little Ireland'. Of Croy he wrote 'Croy was my pet lamb for the lengthened period of twelve years'. What a dedicated and devoted priest he was!

Based upon "Parish Of Holy Cross Croy, A Centenary History 1902 - 2002"

God BlessYou!