Celtic Cross
St Machan's
Catholic Church
Chapel Street, Lennoxtown, Glasgow, G66 7DE
Tel/Fax: 01360 310276
Celtic Cross

History of the Parish

After a written appeal by Catholics in the area, the Mission of Campsie was founded in 1831 by Bishop Paterson of Edinburgh “for the benefit of Irish Catholics employed in the public works of that parish and neighbouring districts.” The first Mass was celebrated in Torrance in the course of a fact finding mission on behalf of the bishop by Reverend Dr. McPherson. As a result of this mission on 10th September of the same year Fr. Paul McLachlan was sent to take permanent charge of the Roman Catholics in Campsie and a wide area around it, including Milngavie, Strathblane, Balfron, Kilsyth and Kirkintilloch. He took up residence in Lennoxtown, the new town of Campsie parish, and from this base served the Catholics of the whole area.  He was the first Missionary Rector.


The early Scottish Catholic Directory informs us that “the congregation meets for divine service in a house rented for that purpose.” A permanent church was not built and completed until 1846. It was solemnly dedicated on the feast of Our Lady, Help of Christians on Sunday 24th May, by Bishop Carruthers of Edinburgh, and was designated St Paul’s Catholic Church.  Rev Stephen Keenan, author of a very popular Catechism published in 1846, preached the homily. Since then the church has been substantially modified by each generation until the present day. There is reference also in the Directory to the establishment of a parish day school and a Sunday school.  These were originally conducted also in rented accommodation, but by 1853 a new schoolhouse had been completed, situated near the church.  St Machan’s Primary school is heir to that tradition.


From these beginnings Catholic parishes were established in Kilsyth (St Patrick’s 1867), Kirkintilloch, (St Ninian’s 1874), Milngavie (St Josephs 1856), Torrance (St Dominics, 1903/1981) and Milton (St Paul’s 1967).


In 1881 Father Magini, a great friend of the local historian John Cameron, was given permission by the bishop to rename the church St Machan’s in honour of the local saint, who is reputed to have had his cell near Clachan of Campsie sometime between the 6th and 9th centuries. He is said to be buried there, probably on the site of the ruined former Campsie parish church. This old church was constructed on the site of a much earlier, possibly Norman, one. The Kirk Session of the present Campsie Parish Church generously presented the parish with the baptismal font from the old church on the occasion of the refurbishment of St Machan’s for its reopening and blessing by Cardinal Gray in 1984.  The church was solemnly dedicated by Archbishop (now Cardinal) O’Brien in 1986.  The feast day of our local saint is 28th September.


One of the earliest Catholic parishes in Scotland, we have a rich history of service during a long period of profound social, political and religious change.  As we welcome you, we hope that you in turn will find yourself able to make your own particular contribution to that tradition.


For more local history:

Cameron, J.          The Parish of Campsie (1892)

McDaid, C.               The Catholic Church in Strathkelvin (1992)
St Machan's is a Parish of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of St Andrews and Edinburgh, a Charity registered in Scotland - Number SC008540




















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