1915, 20 March – Batley News

This is a round-up of pieces from the Batley News this week relating to the parishioners of St Mary’s. As usual I have put in bold the names of those connected to the parish who served with the military. And, as ever, the spelling and punctuation matches that of the newspaper.

The major event for Batley’s Irish Catholic community this week was the celebration of St Patrick’s day. It dominated both the religious and social calendar, although the celebrations had a more muted air than in previous years. The newspaper covered all angles, and snippets featured throughout this week’s edition. I have collated them here.

The general piece read as follows:

St. Patrick’s Day was celebrated quietly in the Heavy Woollen District, Irishmen feeling that the usual festivities would be out of place, with compatriots gallantly laying down their lives in France and Flanders and on the sea in defence of the liberties and civilisation of the world. It has been customary to hold balls at Batley and Dewsbury Town Halls, but these were abandoned this year, and no political demonstration – because of the truce – was held at Birstall.

The religious aspect of the festival was duly recognised, of course, and the services at the Catholic Churches were well attended. The biggest congregation was at St. Paulinus, on Tuesday evening, when the Rector (Father Mitchell) delivered a panegyric on the Irish National Saint, and blessed and distributed the shamrock. Father Mitchell likened St. Patrick to Moses, saying the saint was a second Moses, the leader of a race, and what Moses was to the Israelites, St. Patrick was to the Irish people.

The Saint’s day was marked by the school, with a special performance by the girls.

St. Patrick’s Day was celebrated at St. Mary’s School, Batley, girls of the Guild of St. Agnes having been trained by the sister’s in charge to give a beautiful rendering of the operetta, “The Fairy Glen.” Father McBride was stage manager and directed matters in excellent manner. Father Lea, in thanking the organisers of the concert, hoped the piece would be repeated at an early date in a larger hall.

Even Dewsbury Union Workhouse made a much-appreciated effort to celebrate the occasion.


What was voted “one of the best concerts ever given here” was enjoyed at Staincliffe Institution by the inmates on Wednesday through the enterprise of Mr. J. Deasy (a Batley Guardian), who secured the services of Messrs. G. Berry, “Mick” Healy, G. Richardson, “Ted” Davis, Thurmond Kay, and E. Killingley, Master M. Brown, Mrs. Overend, Mrs. Deasy, and Miss M. A. Cox. How well the artistes did their work only those who were present could realise. One of the oldest inmates said, “If there were only more Christmas Days and St. Patrick Days in the Workhouse, it would be a happy place to live in.” In moving a vote of thanks to Mr. Deasy (who presided) and the artistes, Messrs. Hepworth and Overend spoke highly of the kindness of the Committee of the United Irish League Club, Batley, who gave a donation of £2 to provide each man with a packet of tobacco and each woman a bag of sweets. These gifts were highly appreciated.

Another up-beat piece was a thank-you note from four-year-old William Gordon Patrick Hunt for toys given to him and his sister Margaret. Their parents were Charles Henry and Mary Hunt. The implication from this is that Charles Henry Hunt was serving with the military.

In connection with the recent distribution of toys to Batley soldiers’ and sailors’ children under five years of age – comprising the youngsters who were unable to attend the party generously given some time ago – the Mayor has been pleased to receive the following welcome letter from a juvenile: “41, North Street, Cross Bank, — Dear Mr. Mayor and Gentlemen of the Corporation, I thank you very much for those nice toys you sent to my little sister and me. I am sending you my photo. —Yours gratefully, William G. P. Hunt.” The portrait forms a nice addition to an interesting collection which has made in recent months, one being that of a Belgian child.

In other general news St Mary’s R.C. Church’s 13th donation to the Belgian fund was noted, this time amounting to £2 5s 6d.

More Court cases with parish connections featured in the newspaper this week.

Batley Court – Wednesday.

MAINTENANCE ARREARS:— Patrick Walsh, pitsinker, New Cottages, South Hiendley, admitted owing £3 10s., maintenance arrears, to his wife, Katherine Walsh, Ward’s Hill, Batley, and was, in default of payment, committed for a month’s imprisonment. Mr. H. Whitfield (for complainant) said Walsh earned 14s. a day, and was extremely well off. There had been great difficulty in making him comply with the order of the Court. The amount asked for included payment up to February 22nd only. It would be seen, the advocate proceeded, that at £1 per week – the amount of the order – defendant really owed about £7. —Walsh pleaded that he had been “on Lloyd George” for the three weeks.

On the same day Michael Phillips was also in Court:

Absentee without leave since February 20th, Gunner Michael Phillips, R.F.A., was ordered to await an escort.

The death notices contained two entries relevant to St Mary’s, with a parish priest conducting the services:

KENNY. —On the 13th inst., aged 54 years, John Kenny, 58, Brookroyd Lane.

BOWKER. —On the 15th inst., aged 23 months, John, son of William Bowker, Clerk Green.

Richard Carroll Walsh (War Memorial spelling) and his brother Stephen were mentioned in this edition of the paper.

Batley Parents’ Two Soldier Sons.

Mr. and Mrs. Walsh, Brownhill Road, Batley, are feeling anxious for their son, Stephen Walsh, a driver in the R.F.A., as a box of cigarettes addressed to him has been returned, with the message that the postal authorities cannot locate him. Only one message has been received from him since he left England, and that was on his arrival in France. He said: “We were sailing all night, and we may go into the firing line in a day or two. I hope to get through all right.”

Their other son, Mr. Carrol Walsh, of the Royal Marines, whose thrilling adventures in the siege of Antwerp were reported exclusively in the “News” some time ago, is on his way to a foreign port, and nothing has been heard since his departure about three weeks ago.

The Antwerp piece referred to featured in the 17 October 1914 edition of the newspaper.

Finally there was more news about the Batley ambulance men.

Sergt. P. Mara, Privates Brearley, W. Workshop and M. Pride – Batley men attached to the Naval Sick Berth Reserve – returned to their headquarters on Sunday after enjoying leave.