Margaret Donnelly's book, 'My Parish Holy Cross' had its official launch at Holy Cross School (Fontenoy Street) on Monday 10th April. Margaret and husband Tommy are photographed at the book launch with the Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress of Liverpool and Louise Ellman MP

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Bishop Tom Williams also attended the launch and he is photographed adding his congratulations to those given to Margaret. More than 100 people attended the launch and very grateful thanks is given to Angela and staff at Holy Cross School for ensuring the book launch was a great success.

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'My Parish Holy Cross' is published by Starfish Multimedia (printed by RIBCAR - contact Phil Finegan on 07802 863305 or 0151 264 9785). The book costs 5.99 and is available from lots of outlets in the Scotland Road area. You can contact Margaret Donnelly on 0151 207 0794 or email ronformby@scottiepress.org

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Dear Scottie Press, I recently received a letter wishing me good luck, for the book I have just completed entitled; 'My Parish Holy Cross'. The letter was from an old neighbour who is now a nun (Sister Mary of the Angels) Bibby Golly. She mentioned her wonderful childhood in Fontenoy Gardens, calling it "Paradise Playground", because she always felt so safe.

I thought how true her words rang out of how safe we were playing in a close knit community, with no fear of danger, and always under the watchful eye of caring neighbours that council tenement living created. To express my thoughts and memories I have penned this little poem.

"When we were little kids
We played of so contentedly,
In our Paradise playground
Always safe in the bosom of family

Under the watchful and doting eyes
We played our childhood games.
Running free never in the slightest danger
Life was so simple back then

Neighbours always there for one another
Laughter and squeals of delight erupts
From kids without a care in the world
Swinging around the lamppost
On a old course rope

Paradise playground sounds mythical
Don't you think?
But please believe me
It existed, but where?
In the many council tenements
That once stood
In the heart of the Inner City".

Margaret Donnelly

For more information about Margaret's book about the Holy Cross Parish please phone 0151 207 0794


Irish Piper of Liverpool

On Friday 9th April, 1904, the brevity of the Death Notice column of the Liverpool Echo could leave no one in any doubt as to the standing of the deceased. It simply read: " McEvoy, April 6th at 33 Standish Street, Luke McEvoy, the 'Irish Piper of Liverpool'. At the time of his death, Luke McEvoy, (from the West Coast of Ireland), was around 63 years of aged and said to have been in perfect mind and muscular power. With his wife, Catherine, he kept a lodging house at 33 Standish Street. His usual lodgers being young Irishmen in Liverpool looking for casual work on the docks. Luke McEvoy was obviously a good musician with high appreciation of his pipe playing recognised in Britain, Ireland and America. He was a well-known feature of Liverpool streets often playing in the Old Haymarket area. His death came suddenly, following a short illness and he was buried in Ford Cemetery.

If anyone knows more about the life of Luke McEvoy, please contact ronformby@scottipress.org


 Holy Cross School Addison Street>

Our thanks go to Wally Hesdon who is pictured 3rd right front row on this photo that Wally has sent into the Scottie Press. Wally is joined on the photo by boys of Class 1A at Holy Cross School, Addison Street, Liverpool 3. During the 2nd World War, boys from St Mary's Highfield Street School were transferred to Holy Cross, and girls from Holy Cross were transferred to St Mary's Highfield Street. We welcome hearing from readers who may recognise themselves on the photo and have memories about the photo they'd like to share with Scottie Press readers.

Holy Cross Boys 1938.  Holy Cross Billiards 1949-54
St Mary's Communion 1938  St Mary's Billiards Team.

Wally was born and raised in Worfield Street (off Highfield Street) and he has given the Scottie Press a number of other photographs featuring days of yesteryear in the Holy Cross and St Mary's Highfield Street area.


Wally's birthday

We take an opportunity in this issue to add our 'Happy Birthday Wishes' to all those given to Wally on celebrating his 71st Birthday on Sunday 6th February, Photographed with Wally are his wife Ronnie, grand-daughter Libby, grandson Charlie, daughter Veronica, daughter-in-law Edwina, grand-daughter Michaela and son Anthony


Pieta Statue

A service to commemorate the rehousing of the Pieta Statue within the Holy Cross Memorial Garden - Standish Street, took place on Sunday 28th November 2004.

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Developer, Stephen Allman spoke at the service and said;

"It's always sad to see churches close and the land being redeveloped but sometimes it's hard to stop. Since the church was closed lots of people have been devastated over the closure and I could see this daily as people walked past. This made me want to put something back into the community that again they could be proud of, and so with the help of residents and design team we created this monument.

This monument has been a great pleasure to construct over the last three months and now to see the reaction on people's faces when they see it finished, tells me it was worth every penny.

This monument is a great piece of architecture and I am proud to have worked with the people of Holy Cross on this piece of history which will be here for centuries to come."

We feature below some photographs taken in Holy Cross Memorial garden

Memorial Plaque

Pieta Statue War Memorial
St Patricks Cross Plaque

Pieta Statue

Foundation Stone


Holy Cross Pupils Holy Cross Pupils

The opening of the memorial garden so close to the former site of Holy Cross Church meant a great deal to us in Holy Cross school.

Over the past three years, we have taken the junior children to lay a poppy wreath on this site on 11th November. It is essential that as a school, we help our children make links between the past and the present if they are to fully understand themselves.

Twelve of our pupils were kind enough to attend in their school uniform on Sunday and to each lay a white rose in the memorial garden.

The coming together of the different generations on Sunday was proof that there is still a vibrant community in this area.

Angela Holleran (Headteacher).


Our thanks got to Margaret Donnelly for providing the Holy Cross Parish webpage with a photograph of The Holy Cross Girls 'Irish Dancers'. Pictured on the photograph are;

Irish Dancers

A. Cochran, M. Carroll, N. Coakley, M. Murray, P. Goulding, M. Kennedy, P. Baccino, J. Williams, J. McNulty, M. Thompson. P. Edwards, P. Kennedy.

We welcome hearing from readers who have memories of the 'Irish Dancers' .


Hannah May Thom Fountain Hannah May Thom Fountain

I can recall asking my Mam who the "Lady of the Fountain' was? She told me that the Lady was an angel sent to Holy Cross parish, to care and nurse the sick and destitute.

Over a century ago, the parish was largely made up of Irish immigrants who had fled the awful famine. Hannah May Thom's kindness so moved the poor and sick of Irish Catholics, that after her death, they saved all their coppers, week in and week out, until they had enough to erect a fountain and statue in her honour.

Hannah May Thom, a non Catholic, was a wealthy, well educated lady and was a member of the Rathbone family, one of the wealthiest in Liverpool. At that time they amassed a vast amount of wealth through commerce. After their own needs were met, (their Christian values, of which they were noted for), they gave their surplus riches to the poor to improve their quality of life. Although non conformists, they saw all people as god's children and so they poured their energy, as well as their money, into a wide range of charitable causes, one being the poor, sick and infirm parishioners of Holy Cross.

Hannah May Rathbone married the Rev Thom. A Unitarian Minister. He founded a non-sectarian charity, The Ministry of the Poor, which in turn helped the most deprived areas in the city of Liverpool. It was at this time that Hannah May became aware of the terrible plight of the people of Holy Cross. Soon she was a familiar figure moving freely amongst the sick, learning all the skills of a nurse. She tended high fevered victims, which were at epidemic levels, delivered babies into the world and comforted the dying.

She knew that there was a desperate need for trained nurses and midwives and so she then became Superintendent of the Nurses Training School where she and her team toiled in the squalor of overcrowded courts and cellars that were crawling with vermin. As an educated and wealthy young woman, Hannah May Thom did not have to nurse the dying, the poor, filthy and diseased, because she was 'well born', but felt it was her vocation to become a nurse.

Another nurse who was attracting all the headlines was Florence Nightingale who was in the thick of the Crimea War. Hannah May Thom had been nursing in the slums of downtown Liverpool for over twenty years before she died in 1872 at the age of 55. She was the lady Superintendent of Nurses for the Marybone area. More importantly, in a fiercely sectarian locality, she had well and truly crossed the religious divide and had become a widely respected and much loved lady.

It was the poor of Holy Cross who had raised the fountain in her memory. It originally bore a simple but patently sincere inscription. "This fountain was erected to the memory of Hannah May Thom, born November 24th 1817 - died 1872, by the many friends in this neighbourhood whom she visited in sickness and sorrow".

Despite the sectarian violence that sadly occurred from time to time in that locality, the statue remained undamaged. However, that is not to say it was untouched by controversy.

Although the 1929 Catholic Emancipation act had given Catholic more freedom, some curbs still remained. Priests were not allowed to wear traditional clerical garb or their vestments in the streets. Nor was the host or any objects of a religious nature to be worn in procession through the streets.

In the first decade of the 20th century at the Eucharistic Conference, held in London, the Catholic hierarchy changed these restrictions, the Protestant establishment had with no less determination resisted any change in law or practice. The Diamond Jubilee of Holy Cross in 1909 was seen by Catholics and Orangemen alike as a trial of strength and 4,500 people took part in the May procession. Statues and Stations of the Cross were carried, altar boys dressed in surplices, Lay Brothers dressed as monks, two priests wore cassocks and many more wore morning suits.

At the time, the Bishop of Liverpool rode in an open carriage. Provocative as it was to the Orangemen, as it was, the clergy were not vested and there was no open show of worship. .And so the Chief Constable deemed there was nothing unlawful or nothing he knew about, but there was one thing untoward, Hannah May's statue and fountain had been converted to an altar. Had he been informed he would certainly have forbidden it. However because the statue was connected to the water supply the organisers had wisely taken the precaution of obtaining permission to use the fountain as an altar. This was not from the Chief Constable but from the water authority.

During the year of 1987, Father Connor Murphy and the parishioners of Holy Cross took a decision that the Hannah May Thom statue should be brought out of one of the confessional boxes in the church were it lay for safe keeping for many years. It was in a sorry state of condition and was to be restored to its former glory. The city council granted permission for the monument to be relocated to the garden of Mazenod Court - a residential home for the elderly.

In a ceremony attended by the local community, the clergy of Holy Cross and Hannah May's family, the Rathbones unveiled the monument. Without a doubt. I am sure the new location would well have pleased that wonderful lady.

Written by Margaret Donnelly.


Lawrence Whittle was born in Kilmacow, Waterford in Ireland. After his early schooling, he joined the Oblates of Mary Immaculate and studied for the Priesthood. He was ordained in 1932. He served a number of parishes before joining the R.A.F at the outbreak of war. He then served in the forces for the duration of the war. He was de mobbed in 1945 and he arrived in Holy Cross Parish in Liverpool about 1946.

On arrival he was appointed head of the boys club by Fr Murphy who was then Parish Priest at Holy Cross. The boys club had not been touched since the war and when Fr Whittle saw its condition he was appalled and got stuck in to have the place spic and span in no time. A Billiard Table, Table Tennis and other games were introduced. Soon the club was packed to the rafters and Fr Whittle would be in attendance every night. The club was certainly a place to be on a cold wet night, with its warm friendly atmosphere and plenty to keep you busy.

Fr Whittle soon started his football team and entered a team in the LBA League. Before he picked his side he could be seen watching from the landings of Fontenoy Gardens, Gerard Crescent and Gardens, to pick the best players. He left nothing to chance. His teams would be the best and they were turned out in the immaculate kit of the Irish National side. It was not long before success was to follow. His teams grew from one to three, Success followed with visits to Anfield and Goodison to play in cup finals. Soon league clubs began to hear of the talent playing for Holy Cross FC.

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Pictured with Fr Whittle on this team photo are; M. Kelly, J. Foley, J. Connolly, B. McHugh, W. Moorhouse, J. Stenson, J. Cavanagh, J. Evans, A. Carroll, J. Moran and C. Burton.

George Kay, then manager of Liverpool FC came to Fontenoy Gardens and climbed to the fifth landing to sign Jimmy Rolfe. Soon after Jimmy Murphy of Man Utd came to the first landing to sign Mick Kelly. More honours soon came the boys way with John Mooney, Jimmy Foley, Jimmy Rolfe and Mick Kelly all being picked for the Catholic Youth side To play Southwark in London. Mick Kelly had the honour of playing for the Youth Team in the morning and the CYMS Team in the afternoon. I have never heard of anyone doing that before or since.

Many of the lads owe Fr Whittle a lot, because he always encouraged them to look ahead in life and to try to learn a trade which many of them did. Some even started their own business which some of them still run today.

After the success of football team in the winter he soon realised there was a lot to do in the summer so he decided to start a cricket team. This to many a critic was a non-starter, but it proved to be a real success. Pat Murphy, Jimmy Foley, John Stenson and the McCleer bothers, Frank and Harry soon joined them, and as usual Fr Whittle turned the team out in his own immaculate style, The team looked really smart in their white flannels, and they took to cricket like a duck to water. They played throughout the summer, winning more than they lost. Pat Murphy scored 86 runs against the Police Cadets and would have scored 100 but he ran out of partners (well so he said!).

Fr Whittle left Holy Cross in the late 1950s to take up a post of Parish Priest at Corpus Christi in Leeds. While he was there he started a football team again and once again it was successful One of the players went on to play for Leeds and England. His name was Mike O'Grady. On a visit to Leeds to visit Fr Whittle, John Mooney met Mike O'Grady and talked at great lengths about Fr Whittle and his work with the youth of Liverpool and Leeds. Fr Whittle stayed at Leeds for a number of years before moving to other Parishes.

It was a sad day in June 1983 when the news of Fr Whittle's death reached the parish of Holy Cross. He had died in the parish of the Sacred Heart, Colwyn Bay at the age of 69. His body was taken to Ireland to be buried. A few weeks after his death Fr Whittle's sister wrote to John Mooney enclosing a letter that Fr Whittle had written to John dated 23 June 1983 the very day he had died. So even on the day he died he was thinking of the youth of the parish. May He Rest In Peace. He deserves it.

Father Wittle in Fontenoy Gardens

Fr Whittle is pictured on the Fontenoy Gardens Air Raid Shelter which played such an important part in the famous Holy Cross May Processions. Also pictured on the photo are Altar Boys, J. Burke, J. Foley, B Connolly, C. Miller and J. Myham.



Holy Cross May Procession 1954

Dear Scottie Press,
Looking back as we so often do, I'd like to remind your readers about the month of May which was such an important time in the many parishes throughout the deanery May Processions both indoor and outdoor were always a very meaningful and moving experience not only for those taking part but also for the crowds that thronged the streets in order to witness the breath taking sights of the school children, so innocent in their pristine white and frilly chiffon styled dresses. The lads too so smart and togged out in navy blue serge 'kecks' crisp white shirts, hair groomed and slicked down with a little help from the Brylcream jar.

The parish of Holy Cross was renowned for their spectacular outdoor processions, three different types of bands accompanied the May Queen and her retinue. Walking through the gaily decorated streets on a warm balmy Sunday afternoon. The tenement flats of Fontenoy Gardens were decorated with colourful paper buntings (exchanged for washing lines) swinging gently in the warm breeze of a summer day. The square was sparkling clean freshly swilled pavements splashed with whitewash completed the makeover. An ugly airaid shelter was transformed from a drab and dreadful reminder of the vicious attacks the parish endured during the May Blitz. The make-shift altar superbly erected by Frank Ginnelli with the help of the men of the parish. What a splendid sight to see the May Queen standing proudly behind the statue of Our Blessed Lady, the cushion bearer beside her with a crown of fresh smelling flowers awaiting the ceremony. The bands strike up with those familiar strains of the hymns "Oh Mary we crown thee", which over the decades (us Holy Crosses have adopted this as our very own signature tune. The pipes and drums in harmony with the children's sweet voices trailing behind the more mature and in tune voices of the Children of Mary. By the time the May Queen places the crown on Our Lady's head the melodious voices reach a crescendo, the applause slowly gathers momentum around the packed landings, the spectators roar their approval. The second verse is sung with a great gusto. The crowds now join in to sing in adoration.

Another spectacle witnessed by hundreds of people who have flocked from all over the city. Ice Cream Vans stand side by side not an ice cream or lolly ice left they too have had a splendid day. The band members disband shaking hands and making plans for the following week when it's the turn of another parish to turn on the style once again. Another venue but this time it will be an indoor ceremony on the main altar of the church, the crowds once again will cram the church to capacity to witness once again the crowning of Our Lady. It will always bring a tear to ones eyes, maybe not as spectacular as in the open air but none the less when the strains of the beautiful hymn is sung so joyously it never fails to pull with at your heartstrings

"Oh Mary we crown thee with blossoms today
Queen of the Angels and Queen of the May"

Wonderful memories still savoured today of the fabulous May Processions - a wonderful tradition celebrated throughout the Archdiocese in the month of May.



Holy Cross parish in Liverpool ended its 152 year history in 2001. It was one of the oldest Oblate parishes outside France. The mission of Holy Cross, was entrusted to the Oblates in 1849 in order that they should undertake the care of the poverty-stricken Irish emigrants fleeing the famine in Ireland.

In June 1859 the foundation stone for the original Holy Cross church was laid and plans for its design were drawn up by architect Edward Welby Pugin. This church which was opened in 1860 was destroyed in the 2nd World War during the 1941 blitz. However, it was rebuilt in 1954.

We welcome hearing from former and current residents/parishioners of Holy Cross who may wish to provide memories and photographs for this webpage.

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Procession Procession
May Procession Standish Street
Holy Cross May Procession Holy Cross May Queen
Holy Cross Boys Holy Cross and St Marys 1946
Hannah May Thorn Standish Street Holy Communion 1977