Catholic Church Kilsyth

St Patrick's Church
History of the Parish

St Patrick's Church and house

This history of the parish below is taken from the Centenary Brochure written in 1965 which in turn was adapted from an article by the late James Docherty which appeared in an earlier brochure called "Lift Up Your Hearts." The photographs have been added to illustrate the events that are being described and links are provided to other areas of this website to provide a more complete understanding. Some of he text added in italics is not part of the original article but are added notes to aide the reader or to highlight errors in the original text. Text in quotation marks is generally a direct copy from other sources or archive documentation.

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".

Front Cover of the Mission Register  of Campsie from 1831

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 central Scotland.


Click on any image to get a larger picture

In the Mission Register, toward the back there is just one page headed...

"Catholic Congregation of Campsie - Kilsyth"

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.


Campsie Mission Register - page showing list of catholics from Kilsyth 1831
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 not successful.

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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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 LYNCH, Chairman
JOHN NELSON, Treasurer
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Fr John Galvin
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.

The original St Patrick's Church Kilsyth

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.

Click on any image to get a larger picture

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 in Kilsyth."

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 time.

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

Father 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.

Father Murphy 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, Dundee.

Father Murphy 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.

Father Turner 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.

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.
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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 formerly the
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.

The 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 Turner's time.

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 direction.

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.
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. Canon Downey 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 sport.

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 obtained lairs.
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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. Canon McGarvey is the first native born priest to serve as parish priest in Kilsyth. During the early years of his charge here, Canon McGarvey, 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 life.
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. Luke's, Longcroft.

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 in Kilsyth.

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.

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. Fr. Bell.

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, Rev. 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.

A reception for the guests was held in St. Patrick's School Hall, kindly lent by the local Education sub-committee. Canon 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 event.

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 Canon McGarvey, 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 cloaks.

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.
Fr. John Gordon, His Grace Archbishop Gray
Fr. John Gordon, His Grace
and Fr. Patrick Brady

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 Basilica.

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 congregations.

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 they serve.
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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 deep affection.

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.
Father Harold and Murphy at the funeral of Dan Coyle - The Gartshore Disaster 30th July 1923.
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 Father McGettigan, 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 team.
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, Father Anthony? 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, Father Barry 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.

Father McNulty 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. Father 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. Father 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.

God BlessYou!