Irish communities and the Catholic Church

By the 1840s, the Catholic Church had little following in the Lowlands and central belt of Scotland.

Catholic Irish immigrants began to build churches, which became the centre of Irish communities.

Why was the Church important to Irish Catholic immigrants?

  • Priests provided practical help with writing letters back home to Ireland and helped to find accomodation.
  • The Church was a place of comfort in a time when families were experiencing dreadful living and working conditions.
  • The Church was also supportive of those experiencing financial difficulties. Charities like St. Vincent de Paul emerged from the Church and provided significant help to many impoverished Irish people.
  • The Church was also a focal point of social gatherings – family events, dances, fetes and Irish cultural celebrations such as St Patrick’s Day.
  • The Church helped to provide schooling for Catholic children. These schools were separate from others in Scotland and taught Catholic moral values, as well as traditional school subjects.
  • Football teams were formed by Irish Catholics as ways to raise money and to bring the community together - Hibernian in Edinburgh 1875 and Celtic in Glasgow 1888.