St. Mary's began in 1854 in conditions of great poverty. About 200 Catholics, many of them from Mayo, formed the nucleus of the new parish. Fr. Thomas Martin said Mass in a garret, but in five years Bishop Turner laid the foundation of a handsome Gothic church (June 22, 1859) and the church was opened the same year, November 13. Fr. Martin had the misfortune to see his congregation dwindle by several hundreds during the Cotton Famine. He stayed here until 1880. when he went to Ribchester. Fr. Michael E. Dillon was here until his death in 1895. Fr. Michael Buckley, later well known at St. Mary's, Oldham and Whitworth, was here until 1904. Fr. Notterdam was here for a short time and was followed by Fr. H. Hunt. The present flourishing parish has been ruled since 1934 by Fr. W. Meagher.
Haslingden is associated with the name of Michael Davitt, the famous Irish patriot and writer. He came to Haslingden as a boy and owing to an accident in a cotton mill lost an arm. His sterling worth is shown by the way in which he educated himself, became the editor of a Labour paper, and later distinguished himself as an Irish member of the House of Commons. He always expressed gratitude for the kind treatment he received in Haslingden.
Taken from "Salford Diocese and its Catholic past", a survey by Charles A. Bolton, a Priest of the above Diocese. Published 1950 on the First Centenary for the Diocese of Salford.
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