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 help with writing letters back home to Ireland and to find accomodation.
  • The Church was a place of comfort while families were experiencing dreadful living and working conditions.
  • The Church also supported the poor. Charities like St. Vincent de Paul emerged from the Church and provided significant support to many impoverished Irish people.
  • The Church was at the centre 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.
  • Football teams were formed by Irish Catholics as a way to raise money and to bring the community together - Celtic in Glasgow (formed in 1888) and Hibernian in Edinburgh (formed 1875).