Saint Dominic's Catholic Church, Torrance

Michael Canon Turner

Father Michael J. Turner was born at Penrith, Cumberland, on 29th May, 1855. He was educated at Blairs College and at Douai and Paris, where he was ordained on 26th January, 1879. Before coming to St Patrick’s Kilsyth in September 1890 he was ‘Priest-in-charge’ at Davidsons Mains and South Queens-ferry near Edinburgh. During his time in Kilsyth he was elevated to the Cathedral Chapter becoming Canon Turner. After spending 13 years in Kilsyth, Canon Turner was transferred to St. Machan's, Lennoxtown, in 1903.

Canon Turner was devoted, not only to the Catholic people of St Patrick’s Kilsyth, but very much to those in the surrounding villages who did not have a Catholic Priest of their own. On, foot he visited places as far away as Croy, Twechar, Cumbernauld, Condorrat and Smithston. In his clerical diary for the years 1890-91, he wrote of a sick call at Croy Row, visiting three Catholic families at Turneyhill, near Twechar, calling on a couple in a `mixed marriage' at Cumbernauld, visiting a partially paralysed man in Condorrat and looking in, on one visitation, on half of the homes at Smithston Row, which he called `Little Ireland'. Of Croy he wrote 'Croy was my pet lamb for the lengthened period of twelve years'. His visits round the widely scattered parish were usually made on horseback, or with his favorite pony, Roddy, drawing his " phaeton " carriage.

Canon TurnerOne thing for which he is personally remembered is as a remarkably good singer and his voice was often heard to advantage above the others at social events. He is also remembered with gratitude for his extension of the original St Patrick’s Church, which he enlarged by adding a side aisle and erecting a tower and installing a bell.

To improve the social amenities he built a billiard hall with games room for the youth of the parish. Many children in those early years of the Parish in Kilsyth and the surrounding villages owe their education to Canon Turner and his predecessor Canon Murphy. It was Canon Murphy who was responsible for the construction of the first St. Patrick's School building in 1874 and by Canon Turner's time it was evident that Catholic children not only from Kilsyth but also from Auchinstarry, Croy, Smithstone and Twechar were being educated at St Patrick’s school in Kilsyth.

It is also worth mentioning that it was during Canon Turner's stay in Kilsyth that our neighbouring parish of Croy was founded in 1902. This event is a very real indication of the growth of the Catholic population in Kilsyth and district.

God BlessYou!