Photo-a-Day (Friday, 13th November, 2020)
Photo: Dennis Seddon (Sony DSC-WX200)
I hope won't think this contribution is to involved.
A Jewel in Wigan's Crown.
Miss Egan , long time head teacher of the boys school and a lifelong parishioner. her entire school life was devoted to the parish spending 38 years at the school ;she always referred to St Patrick's Parish
' A Jewel in Wigan's Crown ' others would describe it as ' Thee Parish ' . However it is described there is no
doubt that ' St. Pats ' is much loved parish with a fearlessly proud congregation. This became apparent
when in the resent past the parish was part of consultation on the reorganisation of the parishes of Wigan . Thankfully , St Patrick's was spared , the steadfastness of congregation played no little part in its survival and under the outstanding leadership of Fr. O' Shea the parish goes from strength to strength.
Josh Marshall was also inspirational in the dark days.
It is difficult for people with no connection to the parish to understand how all consuming the parish family was to every aspect of life , everything seemed to revolve round parish life; particularly so before television and other means of entertainment.The social side of life also was taken care of by ' The Club ' with its 2 billiards tables , concert nights , and of course bingo ' The Nolan's ' were regular artists when they were at the outset of their careers .
When the club first opened it was a Mens only club , when the new club opened that rule was relaxed and women were 'allowed in ' at weekends . Later ' The Mother's ' would hold social evenings they raised many thousands of pounds for the parish . Father Lappin often was bowled over by the amounts they donated to the parish
I have recently been given access to the minutes of the club 1946 - 1960 they make fascinating reading .an example on 5th of June 1955 - The committee decided to buy the piece of land in Wellington Street for £20 allowing the the new club to be the full length of the spare land , incidentally the minutes were scribed are signed by John Mc Dermott headmaster of the school and the voice of Rugby League in Wigan , older readers will remember him as an outstanding commentator on Wigan's matches.
After the the tumultuous events of the past few years it was felt that a potted history of the parish would be appropriate . I have relied heavily of the research carried out by two stalwarts Colin Blake and Gerald Fairhurst R.I.P. and all the contributors to the wonderful and well written book ' with the sub title ' it's warmth undiminished ' published in 1997 to celebrate 150th anniversary of its foundation .
In the forward to the book Fr. William Naylor P.P. writes " As for you dear readers, may I invite you to take some pride in this story but not to stop at that. History continues day by day . Your forefathers made you what you are; your children's children will be what you make them. Treasure your Faith , that they, too may enjoy ".I think his words are well worth repeating .
St Patrick's was not a parish when it was opened in 1847, it was a church of ease served by the clergy of St Mary's Mission ( until a change in Canon Law 1918 Catholic Parishes were referred to as Missions )
The then parish priest ,Fr. Middlehurst died only two months after the opening of St. Patrick's .He was succeeded by Fr. William Wells and entires in notice books of the time show St. Patrick's was still under the auspices of St.Mary' s. In October 1848 St Patrick's baptismal records begins ; it is reasonable to assume that this was when it became a parish in its own right .
To digress briefly , from being a church of ease at its inception, St. Patrick's 110 years later had plans to build a church of ease itself . The longest serving and much loved Parish Priest Fr.James Lappin ( 1953 -1985 ) applied for planing permission to build a church on land adjacent to Lamb Street ,Whelley . A tentative name had been chosen ,St. Bridget's, in the end the plans floundered, as things transpired it probably a blessing that they did.
Father Nugent a curate, at St Mary's was promoted
to become first parish priest , he was to go on to found the Nugent Care Society , which still carries out invaluable work today. The work that he carried out among the poor of Liverpool is impossible to overstate . I think it's fair to say that Wigan's loss was Liverpool's gain. He died 1905. A statue of Fr. Nugent can be found in St.Johns Gardens Liverpool . After Fr Nugent's short tenure St. Patrick's, was once again fortunate by the appointment of his cousin, Fr. Huge Mc. Cormick who would serve the parish for 26 years , he saw the parish through difficult days of the cotton famine 1862-1865. He was held in such esteem that when the new girls school was built in 1928, 53 years after his death the school was dedicated to his memory . An unusual aspect of the 'new' school was the senior girls playground was on the roof, it was designed thus because of the lack of space; it was certainly a novel use the land available . A street that ran parallel with the church also bore his name ; I was fortunate to spend my childhood in 'McCormick Street 'and whilst they were basic houses, outside toilets etc ,I would have not wanted my earlier years to be spent anywhere else in the world ! In Wigan Cemetery there is a very impressive memorial to this obviously well respected priest , it was funded by public subscription ,which must have taken a herculean effort in those straitened times.
Including the present incumbent St.Patricks has had 15 Parish Priests, the people of the parish are rightly proud of all the holders of the office. A particular place in older members memories is held for the longest servicing ,Fr. James Lappin, who was a curate for 4 year before his 32 tenure as Paris Priest.The parish has also been blessed with well over 75 curates, the longest serving of these was Fr. Thomas Carney (1912-1928). It would be remiss not to mention Fr. Joseph Burns (1977-1986) the last curate ; he worked closely with Fr Lappin ,they could fairly be called ' The Dream Team ' so well did they work together.
St Patrick's has rich history and has provided Wigan with many Councillors and Mayors . In the WW1 Wigan's ( Wigan Brough) only recipient of The Victoria Cross was a former pupil os St. Patrick's School, Thomas Woodcock V.C. The parish lost many parishioners in both world wars , May they Rest in Peace .
The Darkest Day in its 172 years existence was undoubtably 18th August 1908 , The Maypole Pit Disaster , 75 men were killed , 20 of whom were members of St. Patrick's congregation, many of these were part of the Irish Diaspora . One of the three survivors was also a member of the parish , Mr. Edward Farrell , many of his descendants still live in the community today.
On the Sunday following the disaster a Requiem Mass was said for the dead . Dr. O Dohaghue delivered the address. His remarks echo down the decades, he spoke of " THE VOICES OF THE DEAD CRYING OUT FOR PRAYERS " who could not be have been moved to tears by such a sermon !
On a brighter note the parish boasts many achievements ; building six schools , the present primary school received OUTSTANDING on its last Ofsted inspection . Also building the largest church in Wigan which opened on the 18th March 1880 at a cost of £8000. (£905,000.today's equivalent ) this in the difficult times of the late nineteenth century no mean feat .
Many sporting successes not least the wining The Daily Dispatch Shield in 1926 ( I ought to declare an interest, both my Dad and Uncle were part of that team ) which laid the foundation for ' St. Pats. ' Rugby Club which has a 'rugby worldwide' reputation, known from Fiji to Australia to New Zealand. The parish is rightly proud that the present Chairman of Wigan RLFC Ian Lenagan is a former pupil.
Please God St Patrick's celebrates its bicentenary in 2047. I would like to attend although I would be 102, highly unlikely , but you never know !
St Pats Grave Downpatrick, Co. Down, Northern Ireland.
Good photo Dennis, I think of all the walking days every time I see the cobbles. The walks went down there onto Darlington St on the way to the Market Square. It's a beautiful church and was a major part of my childhood. School, Church and Scholes never forgotten. I still go to St Pats especially recently when the Church was open
Tom, I have many old video tapes of Wigan Rugby matches on which John McDermott commentated. He was quite a character, Sometimes more entertaining, dare I say it, than the Rugby!
I hope to join you Tom - unlikely - but we can live in hope - I would be 101 .. !
Ps I don't recall about another church of St Bridget? Sounds like something out of one of Ol ' Mother Riley's films. ;~)
Veronica, there must be people all over the world by now with connections to this church, a good many of them will have been taught in the schools you mention. I’ll bet that sometimes, in their quieter moments, their thoughts go back to those days and they drift of to sleep with a smile on their faces.
Inside view of St Pats after the Sunday morning mass for them who never go to church now.
Very interesting. Tom. I was brought up next door to St. Williams in Ince, a similar-looking church, and even though I am not Catholic I was very sad to see it close. I hope St. Patricks goes on. I love the cobbled street outside.
On the left of the cobbles was the old steps to the infants school – the church inside for me is the finest in Wigan with its unique three alters on which I served as an alter boy under the tutelage of Father Lappin – happy days – great school and parish
Definitely Dennis. I know Catholic Churches are universal, but St Pat's was a one off for me. I still keep in touch with an old school friend in Australia , I have to keep her informed of anything going on there. It's a revelation looking at all the old DVD.s I watch now and again of the old Hardybutts and the massive crowds watching the walks, with all the pipe bands. Wonderful to look back to another time in the past with a deep longing!
Does anybody remember Kath Fish, went to St.Pat's?
Not forgetting the upstairs Scholes Malc which was the Senior Girls. There weren't many schools that allocated Infants, Juniors and Seniors all in the same building, all girls. I recall my first day of starting there and my last day when I left. Both momentous at the time to me anyway. I can remember running home at playtime the first week. The gates weren't locked then, my mam took me back with a jam butty in my hand!
Some time before lockdown, Fr O'Shea generously gave me his time to take me round St John's and St Patricks to photograph the War Memorials there - including the Roll of Honour he had transferred from St William's to St Pat's.
The remains of one of the St Pat's memorials is on the end of the Presbytery which is to the left of the photograph. This took the form of a wayside shrine with a figure of Christ. Sadly, the figure is absent - Fr O'Shea had to have it removed because it had eroded badly, and had been seriously vandalised. You'll find my revised record of it here: https://www.iwm.org.uk/memorials/item/memorial/45392
Fr O'Shea was kind enough to send me an image of the statue taken before it was removed, but it would be good to have a photograph of the shrine when it was in better condition - has anyone got one?
There is a picture of the shrine in the celebratory 1847 - 1997 book Rev. Long. It isn't very distinct enough to post on here, or I would have done that for you. Such a shame it was vandalised after all the years it was there.
"worldwide reputation, known from Fiji to Australia to New Zealand".
From Fiji to Australia to New Zealand is hardly 'worldwide', I mean, they're neighbouring islands.
Lovley memories of this church, Veronica.I remember the walking days,getting ready on those cobbles.I have one negative memory of Father Lappin,(sorry to say) We used to go to St Pats youth club, me and my boyfriend, later my husband.He once won at a game of table tennis,about £5 prize.Father Lappin came up to him, but on realising that he belonged to the church at the top of the hill.The one with the steeple.He bluntly refused to pay him. (How Christian was that)???
I didn't know that Edna, different times thank goodness. More unity these days between the different denominations.
That's not good, Edna! Sadly, there was a lot of bigotry back in those days. I lived in Ince Green Lane and walked with Ince Parish. Sadly, a lady across the road from my home who belonged to St. Williams used to wait behind her door and slam it with gusto when our procession went by. What a sad state of affairs! However, we children happily waved to our pals who walked with the opposing denomination, and "snaked" into each other's "field treat" after the "Walk"! My much older brother told me of one field treat where the "Master of Ceremonies" announced that the next dance would be a "Snake Dance". "What's a snake dance. Mister?" asked one little lad, to which the Master of Ceremonies answered, "It means aw yo' lot wot's snaked in can snake eawt!".
That sort of thing used to happen in the labour clubs too if a non member won the bingo.
"Excuse me, you're sat at OUR table".
Report it to the committee George!
Irene, your story made me smile, like you say there was a lot of bigotry in those days, I kew some people who lived in Darlington St. Who would not come out, and keep their doors closed, when St Catherine's was walking past.So much for Christianity.x