A BRIEF HISTORY OF ‘THE YOKER’
The first mention of the name ‘Yoker’ is found in the Rent Rolls in the year 1505. It would seem that at that time in history, it formed part of the Parish of Renfrew. The reason would seem to be that there was a ford across the River Clyde from the north bank to the south bank of the Clyde which, in later years, became the site of the Renfrew Ferry. There is much discussion over the origin of the name but the most popular opinion is that it is derived from the Gaelic, ‘An Iochdar’ meaning a stretch of low lying land. This conjecture certainly supports the tendency of the local people to refer to ‘the’ Yoker. The fledgling village of Yoker, which first appears as a village in a map published in 1734, became firmly established with the opening of the Yoker distillery. This distillery, the oldest in Scotland, was established where the Yoker Burn met the high water mark of the Clyde.
A guide book published in 1820 speaks of, “this quaint old-fashioned wayside village standing by the green banks of the beautiful Clyde some ten miles from the cross of Glasgow.” The Gazetteer of Scotland published in 1855 describes it as having “a post and telegraph office under Glasgow, a great ship building yard and a large distillery”. In 1860, it is described as “a manufacturing village on the north bank of the Clyde in Renfrewshire, finely situate”.
The dredging of the Clyde and the development of Glasgow, as a great trading and industrial city, led to a very large increase in the population of The Yoker. The proud history of Yoker distillery was brought to a sad end on 13 th March 1941 when a number of incendiary bombs dropped by German aircraft destroyed it beyond economic recovery. The thought that one million pounds of whisky could be destroyed in one, or two hours, must surely still bring tears to the eye!
St Brendan's R.C. Church, 187 Kelso St, Glasgow G13 4BH   Telephone: 0141 560 6948     Email:   st.brendans@hotmail.co.uk
THE HISTORY OF THE PARISH OF ST BRENDAN'S
In the 1870's there were only two Roman Catholic families in Yoker, the Gillans and the McAulays. Their nearest place of worship was St. James' in Renfrew, to which Parish Yoker belonged. The Roman Catholic Relief Act in 1829 finally brought to an end the Penal Laws which had been in force in Scotland since 1672. There were, as a result of the Penal Laws, few Catholic seminaries in Scotland at the time and in 1878 a priest was obtained from Holland, Father Evers. He lived at St. James' and travelled daily between his home in Renfrew to visit the parishioners living on the north side of the river where he also celebrated Mass. Father Evers was a tall friendly man and a very keen angler. On Christmas Eve 1900, just before he was due to celebrate Mass, he died.
To meet the needs of those coming to work in the new factories and ship building, the new Priest, Father John Montgomery, who had succeeded Father Evars, founded the chapel school in Kilbowie Road which from 1889 until 1903 was the centre of Roman Catholic life among Clydebank and Yoker people. Our Holy Redeemer's Church was built in 1903 and this was the place of worship for the Yoker village people for the next 40 years.
With the continued increase in population it was found necessary in 1946 to establish a new and independent parish in Yoker with a priest resident among the people. On 3 rd April 1946, Archbishop Donald Campbell formally established the new Parish of St Brendan's. Brendan or Brandon, as he was also known, was an Irish missionary priest who preached the Gospel and established churches in many parts of Scotland.
The Rev. Cornelius O'Leary was appointed to hold the office of Parish Priest and a home was procured for him in Millbrae Crescent. There was as yet no church and the Sunday Services were held alternately in Speirs Hall, Langholm Street, and the then Saint Brendan's School in Kirkton Avenue. Finally, in 1949 the present parish church in Kelso Street was opened and blessed by the Archbishop of Glasgow, the Most Rev. Donald A. Campbell, D.D. The current Presbytery and parish hall were built at a later stage.
THE PARISH AT PRESENT
The current parish priest is Fr. Joseph L. Mc Auley, popularly or unpopularly known as ‘Fr. Joe’! He came to the parish on 18 th September 2015 and has served as a priest of Glasgow Archdiocese for the past 33 years. He is a native of Dumbarton and feels that he has, in a sense, come back to the beginning as his first appointment as a priest was to the parish of St. Eunan’s, Clydebank which is a next door neighbour to St. Brendan’s.
In his ministry as parish priest, Fr. Joe enjoys tremendous support from the parishioners. There are many parishioners and others involved in promoting and developing the life of the parish and helping people to celebrate their faith in Christ and his Church.
There is a very strong sense of community in the parish and very much a ‘family’ atmosphere. There is a deep sense that our strength comes from prayer and the daily Mass and Eucharistic Adoration are very much appreciated and valued by the community. We are very fortunate to be able to keep our church open throughout the day and give people the opportunity to come into the presence of the Lord and experience the comfort and healing which he alone can give.
The sick and the housebound are especially appreciated and valued and enjoy good support in many different ways. Conscious that our future lies in our young people, great efforts are being made to catechise them and prepare them for the worthy celebration of the sacraments. Our latest venture is to have a Family Day every month to encourage as many families as possible to come to Mass and meet afterwards to socialise and for the young people to have some fun together.
THE HISTORY OF THE PARISH OF ST BRENDAN'S
In the 1870's there were only two Roman Catholic families in Yoker, the Gillans and the McAulays. Their nearest place of worship was St. James' in Renfrew, to which Parish Yoker belonged. The Roman Catholic Relief Act in 1829 finally brought to an end the Penal Laws which had been in force in Scotland since
The stained glass window in the vestibule of the church depicts St Brendan's Journey
St Brendan's R.C. Church