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St Margaret's Airdrie

The Catholics of Airdrie and its vicinity were served by the Clergy of St.  Andrew's, Glasgow, who used to say Mass at Airdrie once a month from 1830 till 1840.   Mass was at first said in the Masons' Lodge, High Street, afterwards in a rented room in Bell Street, until a room was secured in Bride-well Lane, now Market Street.   This room was also furnished and fitted up for school purposes.   The first teacher of this school was a Mr. Delargey who was succeeded by the late Mr. James McAulay.    Shortly after the New Year,    1833, a collection for the building of a church was commenced and continued until the end of 1839.   The Church was opened in 1839. The Catholics at Airdrie were then principally, if not solely, attended to by Rev. William Stewart of St. Andrew's, Glasgow.   The first entry was made in the Baptismal Register on 25th December 1838.

St. Margaret's was formed into an independent Mission in March, 1840, and placed under the charge of Rev. Daniel Gallaugher, who was the first resident priest.    In the obituary notice of Father Gallaugher in the Directory for 1884 we read "He left the College for Glasgow on 7th June, 1839, and on his arrival was appointed to St. Andrew's in that City After some time the new Mission of Airdrie was confided to his care, embracing a large portion of Lanarkshire, the Catholics being chiefly colliers and miners, scattered over a wide district.   This was an arduous charge for the young priest, as he frequently had to traverse on foot long miles by night to the bedside of some poor Catholic stricken either by sickness or accident, which was of frequent occurrence among miners.   One may have some idea of the extent of his labours from the fact that there are now perhaps twenty priests located in different places in the same district.   But it was not in human nature to stand such exertions, and he was prostrated by illness, his physicians observing that no amount of human strength could have endured such work. After some months of sickness his naturally good constitution recovered its wonted vigour, and he was able to resume his clerical duties, first at St.  Mary's and then at St.  Andrew's Glasgow”.   Father Gallaugher had to retire from active work at Airdrie at the end of December, 1841. The number of Baptisms in 1840 was 261,  and in 1841, 312.

On 20th September, 1842, Rev. Alexander Smith was appointed to the Mission.   Father Smith and his curate said Mass every third Sunday from November, 1843, until November, 1844, at Davvy's Dykes to afford the Catholics in that locality the opportunity of hearing Mass and approaching the Sacraments.   In 1844 the Catholic population had become so numerous that it was deemed necessary to divide the Mission and to form a new centre at Coatbridge. In the beginning of 1845 Coatbridge was separated from Airdrie, and Rev. William Walshe appointed its first priest. This division relieved Airdrie considerably but it was for a time only.   In 1846 the accommodation in St. Margaret's was found to be too limited.   Further accommodation was provided by the erection of a gallery, at a cost of £150.   During the dreadful famine of 1847 in Ireland, Airdrie showed its practical sympathy with the poor sufferers. On 24th January a collection was made in the Church, which amounted to £26.5.8,  and forwarded to the famine fund.   In 1847, there was a fairly numerous population at Rawyards.   To provide the children there with education and proper religious instruction, Father Smith secured' a plot of ground and built a small school.   The first teacher of this school was a Mr. Maguire.   On 3rdOctober, 1847, Rev. Alexander Smith was consecrated Bishop of Parium, Coadjutor of the Western District at Glasgow, and left Airdrie about the middle of November.   The number of Baptisms in 1847 was 386.   Bishop Smith was succeeded by Rev. John Gray, who remained at Airdrie till April, 1848, when he was relieved in order to proceed to the United States of America, to collect money for the present wants of the Western District.   The successor of Father Gray was Rev. Duncan McNab.  

In 1856 half an acre of ground was feued off Lauchope Estate, Chapelhall, for a new school-chapel and house.   The chapel was not opened until Autumn, 1857.   The priests of Airdrie attended Chapelhall and said Mass there every Sunday until March,         1859, when Father James Milne took charge of the new Mission.   The late Colonel Gerard of Rochsoles, generously offered a piece of ground on his Estate at Rochsoles for the nominal feu-duty of ten shillings per annum.   Since that time the Catholics of Airdrie have enjoyed the privilege of possessing a Catholic burying ground.   During Father McNab's incumbency, a coal company had encroached on the Catholic Church property, and by its underground workings had caused great damage to the Church.   For a long time he carried on a costly law-suit with this Company.   He obtained substantial damages, but three-fourths of the amount obtained was swallowed up by legal expenses.   Father McNab established a day-school at Darngavil, about three miles from Airdrie.  In 1867 he resigned and left for Australia to labour among the natives of that country.     The number of Baptisms in 1867 was 232.   Rev. James McIntosh was appointed priest of St.  Margaret's, 24th August, 1867.

When the Education Act came into operation in 1872, the school at Darngavil had to be given up.   A small chapel was built at Meadowfield near Longriggend in 1873, and Mass was said for the Catholics in the neighbourhood once a month.   In 1874 a new girls' school was built at Airdrie, accommodating 290 scholars, and about ten years later a class-room was added, giving additional accommodation to 60 children.   The old boys' school had also been enlarged, and class-rooms added, so as to provide accommodation for about 500 children.   Rooms were rented at Darngavil and Whiterigg, to serve as reading and recreation rooms for the men during the week, and as Sunday Schools for the children on the Sundays.   The Catholics of Longriggend and its neighbourhood having steadily increased in numbers, the old chapel had become too small.   A school-chapel was opened on 18th August, 1879.   From this date Mass was said at Longriggend every Sunday and Holiday of Obligation.   During this year a school was also opened for the children.   Longriggend was separated from Airdrie in 1881, and confided to the care of Rev. John Linster in 1886; Rev.  James McIntosh was made a Canon of the Archdiocese, and on 28th September, 1888, Missionary Rector of Airdrie.   In 1892 a school-chapel was built at Meikle Drumgray, near Greengairs, by Father Linster.   Meikle Drumgray and Darngavil were ceded from Airdrie Mission to the new station.   Mass was said there for the first time in August, and the school opened on 1st September, 1893.   The new station was attended from Longriggend.   In 1893 an alabaster High Altar was built in St. Margaret's and the Church was painted and decorated.    During the incumbency of Canon McIntosh the graveyard was greatly improved and enlarged. The Very Rev.  James Canon McIntosh died,  18th October, 1893.  The number of Baptisms in 1893 was 207.

Rev. Hubert Van Stiphout received charge of St.Margaret's on 10th November,1893.   On 17th February, 1895, the Memorial Tablet which a grateful people had erected to the memory of Canon McIntosh in the Church, was unveiled.   The Right Rev. John A. Maguire, Auxiliary Bishop of Glasgow, preached a sermon on the occasion upon the character and functions of the priesthood, with special reference to the high character of the deceased Canon, who was beloved by all his people and greatly esteemed in the general community.   On 12th January, 1896, the station of Meikle Drumgray near Greengairs, was handed over to Airdrie, and was served by the clergy of St. Margaret's, who said Mass there every Sunday.   The girls' school received extensive improvements during this year.   A new school for boys and infants was opened in the following year.   A statue of St.  Margaret, Queen of Scotland, was placed in a niche of the new school on 15th July, 1897.   It was modelled by the donor, Miss Anisa McGeehan, the gifted daughter of Mr. Patrick McGeehan, late of Rawyards.

The Catholic population having increased in the outlying districts to the east of Airdrie, Meikle Drumgray or Greengairs Station was created an independent Mission and placed under the charge of Rev. A. McEachan, who took possession on 5th October, 1897. The number of Baptisms in 1899 was 159.


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