Wild Geese Heritage Museum and Library
Portumna, Co. Galway

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St Patrick's History:

The history of St Patrick's Church in Sydney really dates back to 1839 when the Catholics tried to obtain a grant of land for a church. They applied for the land at the top of Church Hill on which St Philip's Church of England now stands. At the time, the first St Philip's stood directly opposite the William Davis home, on land which has become Lang Park. However, the government refused this request, and merely made a grant of money. It was the generosity of Davis in giving land behind his house for the church, which enabled the project to go ahead. Most of the land he donated had been granted to him in his own name, and part was registered in the name of his wife Catherine.

The earliest known photograph of St Patrick's, taken by William Hetzer, 1868 when the Marist Fathers were given care of the parish.

St. Patrick's Today

The laying of the foundation stone took place on 25 August 1840, after a procession from St Mary's Cathedral. Bishop Polding, as he then was, preached while standing on the foundation stone itself in order to be seen and heard by an immense crowd, as Ullathorne vividly described the scene. Having donated the land, the now elderly William Davis astonished everyone when he came forward and placed a cheque for 1000 pounds on the stone, an incredible sum in those days, matched only by the grant from the Colonial Secretary.

The building proceeded under the architect John Frederick Hilly, using and adapting plans from an English model. The builders were Andrew Ross and Company. During the years of the construction, Polding had visited Rome and had become an archbishop. He performed the solemn opening on 17 March 1844. William Davis had died the previous year.

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