Catholic Church Kilsyth

St Patrick's Old Church Inside and Outside

St Patrick's Church Kilsyth c1950 by John Watson
St Patrick's Old Church c1950

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The photograph, above, is of the first St Patrick's church and was taken by Mr John Watson of Murray Avenue, who was a renound local amateur photographer and who took many photographs of Kilsyth which are now of historic significance. Mr Watson donated this picture to St Patrick's to be used in the centenary brochure in 1964.


In 1862 there was a population of over 400 Catholics in Kilsyth but there was still no permanent Priest or church building and Bishop Gillis, Vicar Apostolic of the Eastern District of Scotland, at the second time of asking, granted a permanent Priest Fr John Galvin who arrived on the 5th Jan 1865.

This young Priest then set about raising funds to build both a Church and a house. The land occupied by St Patrick’s was donated by Sir Archibald Edmonstone, Bart of Duntreath, who gifted all the land between Low Craigends and Shuttle Street parallel to Kilsyth Primary School a strip about 40m wide. At the time the land was rigged steeply sloped and covered in large couch stones. When funds were raised, a small stone church designed by architect Duncan McFarlane of Greenock and built by a contractor Mr Gow, was supervised by A. McIntosh of Glasgow. It is remarkable that it was built within 14 months of Fr Galvin’s arrival in Kilsyth. Much of the stone was quarried locally by the parishioners and many of the labourers used in the construction by Mr. Gow were members of the congregation themselves.

So the first St. Patrick’s church was built on the same site as our modern church during 1865 and was opened on 17th March (St Patrick’s Day) 1866. It was a modest sandstone building and was built in the modern gothic style which was universally used for places of worship at the time.

Father Murphy was then stationed in Kilsyth for 17 years, 1873 to 1889 and during this time he built St. Patrick's School in 1874 and also the first addition to it in 1896. The school was a Parish School and was built on the land behind the church, on what is today a car park, facing Shuttle Street next door to the larger Kilsyth Primary School.

During Monsignor Macnamara's stay in Kilsyth, 1903 - 1938, he added a top storey to the school in 1908 consisting of 3 classrooms, renovated the church with funds from his silver anniversary presentation in 1911 and commissioned Italian craftsmen to decorate the high altar and installed communion rails in 1919 (the rails were dedicated as a war memorial to those lost from the Parish in the First World War) and introduced electric lighting to the church and presbytery.

During 1923, he had also 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, the old Victoria Hall, which was ready for use in 1934 after substantial additions to the existing structure. These halls can be seen in the photograph to the right of the church from which we are able to estimate the location of the old building next to the lane. This suite of halls was opened in 1934 and was formerly the United Presbyterian Church; it had also been used latterly as a variety hall and cinema before St Patrick's bought the building.

Following a fire in 1954 the old church was finally closed after 94 years on New Year’s day 1962 and was then demolished. Building work on the current St Patrick’s church began on the 8th of October 1962 and the laying of the foundation stone by His Eminence Gordon Joseph Cardinal Gray took place on St Patrick’s Day 1964. Exactly a year later the current building was opened by Cardinal Gray on 17th March 1965 precisely 100 years after the original church commenced construction.


St Patrick's Kilsyth Parish Day Book entry for 7th Jan 1962

The closure of St Patrick's Old Church in Kilsyth was recorded for posterity in the Parish Mass Book for Sunday 7th January 1962. Along with this written entry by Canon Thomas McGarvey there are two photographs below which show the inside of the Church as it was immediately before the church was closed.

This entry shows that the main hall was being used to say all Masses on a Sunday (8am, 9am, 10am, 11am, 12noon and 8pm) and that only the 12 O'clock Mass was overcrowded.

The upstairs Billiards room in the Halls had been turned into a small Oratory.

The Assistant Priests in the Parish were:
Fr Gerald McCabe and
Fr Michael Bell

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View of the main Altar of St Patrick's old church Kilsyth c1961

View of the Atar precinct in St Patrick's Old Church Kilsyth c 1961
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Click on any image to get a larger picture

The two photos above show slightly different views of the main altar of St Patrick's before it was closed and these were stapled inside the Parish Mass Book for 1962 beside the written entry shown above on the 7th January 1962. The wooden carved superstructure on the altar was the work of the Italian craftsmen employed by Monsignor Macnamara sometime shortly after 1911. One of the 4 wooden angels from the altar is still in the possession of Mr George MacDonald of Mansefield House. The suspended brass sanctuary lamp seen in both pictures and the altar rails seen in the right hand picture were dedicated to those lost from St Patrick's during the 1914 - 1918 World War. On the altar are 6 brass candle sticks, 3 on either side of the tabernacle - 4 of which are still in use in St Patrick's today. The vaults of the ceiling above the altar where decorated with frescoes added as part of the 1911 redecoration of the sanctuary. Unfortunately there are only 3 panels visible above and behind the altar - a further 2 panels which came straight towards the camera position are not visible but we can get a hint of them by looking closely at the photo on the left hand side each of these panels was also decorated with 2 angelic figures. The old domed brass tabernacle remained in use in St Patrick's during the period when the new church had a Blessed Sacrament Chapel and it was also re-instated in the new building for a short period when the current St Patrick's tabernacle was repaired and modified during 1986.
St Patrick's Kilsyth before 1911
This extremely old photograph in the possession of the Andy Muldoon's family was taken at sometime before 1911. The decoration of the vaults above the altar is as far as we know the original way in which the frescoes had been commissioned when the church was built in 1864. The altar is less ornate and the sanctuary lamp and altar rails are smaller and less imposing.

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This remarkable image of St Patrick's Church, Presbytry and Hall and also St Patrick's Old Parish School is dated c1950.

Although few of the building still remain the surrounding environment of Shuttle St, Kilsyth Primary School, Low Craigends and Masefield House are all recognisable, as is the War Memorial in Burngreen Park to the extreme top left corner of the picture.

The two large buildings in Low Craigends were picture houses where the latest movies would have been shown.

The original photograph is so large we could not scan all of it and it shows an even greater panorama of Kilsyth.

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The story of the new church of St. Patrick's

God BlessYou!