St. Patrick’s History
In 1830 a group of Irish immigrant families settled here on lands owned by Father John MacDonald who had inherited this part of his father’s estate. Soon they were joined by other Irish imm.igrants who settled nearby and by some Scottish neighbors who took up land generally around Glenfinnan.
In 1837 the parishioners erected their first church, dedicated to St. Patrick, and replaced it with a beautiful brick one in 1870 which they finished over the years. A fire in 1897 did great damage to this church, requiring almost total reconstruction with William Harris the chosen architect. It has been called “the truest Gothic church on the Island” and has one of Harris’ most impressive interiors. Extensive maintenance of recent years has preserved this architectural hilltop gem.
A large brick parochial house was built in 1875. From 1958 until 1985 it served as a convent for the Sisters of Saint Martha who taught in local schools and brought an extra dimension to parish life. In the 1990s this large house was transferred to a government agency for use as seniors’ apartments. The present rectory was built in 1958.
Father Allan MacDonald was pastor of St. Patrick’s Parish for 49 years (1877-1926) and his remains rest in the cemetery there. In 1916 a mission church was erected at Johnston’s River (Mount Ryan) and dedicated to the Sacred Heart. Of rather unique architecture of Spanish Revival style, the front of this church in particular is worthy of pause and reflection.
Today there are 260 families in St. Patrick’s Parish. This area was named by Father John MacDonald, probably for Fort Augustus, Inverness, Scotland.