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A Brief History of the Parish of St.Ignatius - Part 2

The Return of Catholicism to the District around Wishaw

The beginning of the Iron Industry in the early 1840's at Newmains, the opening up of the coal fields in the parish, and later the laying down of the Caledonian Railway, gave employment to large numbers of Irish Catholics.

The spiritual needs of the Catholics who settled in the district at this time were attended to by the priest at Hamilton, where a mission was established in 1846. Wishaw Catholics had to cross the fields and follow the Clyde to get to Sunday Mass in Hamilton. The legend is that this was done barefoot in order to save their footwear, which was only donned when they got to the bridge leading to Hamilton. After Mass, they had their "pieces" on the river's banks on their way home. They apparently also insisted on burying their dead in a Catholic burial place - the nearest was in Rochsoles in Airdrie and the coffins were carried by relays of men, since they were too poor to afford a conveyance. These journeys often occupied a whole night with rests by the side of the road. It must have been a strange spectacle to the people of Cleland as the funeral processions passed through the village, often on journeys overnight. The clergyman of this laborious mission of Hamilton (Catholic Directory of 1847) had to extend his ministrations to Carluke, Lanark, Carnwath and Auchengray, in each of which stations the Holy Mass was offered up at stated times. This was the boundary of the Hamilton Mission until 1849 when a Glasgow born priest named Fr. Black began his missionary labours at Lanark. The Lanark Mission then comprised Lesmahagow, Carluke, Shotts, Crofthead and New Mains (sic). Father Black, unaided, attended to the spiritual wants of this wide district until 1857 when he obtained the assistance of the Rev. John McCay.

In 1855 Fr.Black had purchased ground with a house on it in Carluke, which he converted into a temporary chapel and in 1857, Carluke became a separate Mission with Fr.McCay as its pastor. Meanwhile, Fr.Black was moving on to Wishaw.

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