A Saint Patrick’s Day Celebration To Remember

SHAMROCK RECIPIENTS: Father William Rooney assisted by Altar-boy William Howe giving Shamrock to schoolchildren at St Patrick’s Church, Wolverhampton, this morning on the occasion of St Patrick’s Day 1949.

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Patrick, Saint and Missioner Honoured.

The flag of St Patrick adorned the pulpit in St Patrick’s Church, Wolverhampton today as the large congregation attended High Mass in honour of Ireland’s patron saint.

The Rev. Canon M.R. Woulfe (Oldfallings) was celebrant, the Rev J. Griffin (Handsworth) was deacon, and the Rev. P. Kavanagh (Wolverhampton) was sub-deacon.

Girls from St Patrick’s School were present. A choir of girls sang the mass and the service closed with the blessing and distribution of shamrock by the parish priest, the Rev W. Rooney.

In his sermon Father Rooney talked of the worldwide love and devotion of the Irish people to the  memory of St Patrick; commenting that most people in his parish were descended from the Irish .

Father Rooney recalled that nearly 100 years ago the Church was built by poor Irish exiles from their country who had brought with them a faith in Jesus Christ. He mentioned also how progress and success in other parishes throughout the country had been influenced by the sacrifice, effort and devotion of the sons of St Patrick.

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St Patrick Westbury Street 1949

2010 Celebrates 145 years of the parish of St Patrick in Wolverhampton

St. Patrick’s, Church  intended for the growing Irish population of Wolverhampton, built by E.W.Pugin in 1866. This was  the former ‘Carribee Island’ area of the town where poor Irish immigrants set down their roots. Around the turn of the nineteenth century Father Darmody, the local priest at St Patrick’s ruled the roost like a one man militia.

Father Darmody would often venture unaccompanied into many public houses frequented by the Irish, such as the Dan O’Connell, the Limerick and the Hibernian; places where the local police feared to go; and calm down many a drunken situation. In this mean neck of the woods between Stafford Street and the canal, there was a total lack of respect for the local authority, but the Catholic priest was treated like royalty.

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The magnificent Altar area of St Patricks Church circa 1960.

A view of  the inside of the church; where as I remember in the years just after the war, even with its large seating capacity,  you would still be lucky to find an empty seat once any one of the three services held there on a Sunday morning had started.

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The Church circa early 1960s.

Pictured here is a view of St Patrick’s Church across the open space left by the removing of parts of Westbury and Thornley Streets during  the 60s.

On the steps as usual after 11 O’ clock Mass, stands Father William Rooney, having just sold the remainder of his weekly raffle tickets. Now quietly talking to the few remaining parishioners whilst they in turn, wait for either the ‘Warwick’ or ‘Dan O’ Connell’ or any one of the many pubs  in the area  to open for their Sunday lunch drink.

Father Rooney retired and left for Ireland shortly after the above picture was taken, and passed away in the early 1970s.

Thankfully he didn’t live to see his beloved Church cut down by the advance of the Ring Road.  In 1972 St Patrick’s Church was re-built at New Cross, Heath Town.

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A link with the old school.

2010 a celebration  of St Patrick at Graisley Lane

This isn’t the glorious statue of St Patrick that I recall  from 1949, seen in the earlier picture adorning the inside of the church. This statue  was at one time in the  old Catholic Girls School in Bagnal Street, and  after that school building  was demolished it was removed and today features strongly in the playground of the St Patrick’s infants School in Graisley Lane, Wednesfield.

Which incidentally celebrates its 40th birthday, this year.

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2 comments

  1. I remember when Father Rooney was at St Patrick’s, I occasionally attended Mass there and afterwards he used to offer us kids a pinch of snuff! Yuk.

    Shrewsbury Wolf

  2. I would like to know of any history on Whitmore Secondary School which might be available. Old photographs will also do….

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