St. Lawrence O'Toole Parish / Irishtown
First established in 1820
First church around 1829
First pastor in 1946
Irishtown was first established by Irish settlers in 1820. In the beginning, the local Irish Catholic families travelled to Memramcook for weddings, but had missionary priests come into the community sporadically to say mass, perform baptism or bless graves.
A small log church was built about 1829. It was replaced soon after by a proper church. The oldest gravestone in the cemetery is that of William O’Neil, dated 1847. This church was destroyed by fire in 1859 and the church as we see it today was started on October 17, 1860, and opened in 1861. It was placed under the patronage of Saint-Lawrence O’Toole, Dublin’s 12th century historic bishop. A small vestry was built in 1864, and the pews were added in 1874.
The parish was a mission of Memramcook until 1860 when it was transferred to St. Anselme. From 1870-1874, it was a mission of Cocagne and then it reverted back to St. Anselme. Saint Bernard’s Parish became the Mother church of the St. Lawrence O”Toole mission in 1920.
Between 1938 and 1941, St. Lawrence O’Toole parish was a mission of St. Louis de France parish in Lewisville. French masses were added in 1938 and so the mission had two masses per visit, which was at least once a month. From 1941 to 1946, Saint Bernard’s parish took care of the spiritual needs of the Irishtown people.
In 1946, Msgr. Norbert Robichaud made Irishtown a separate parish, joining it with Saint-Philippe’s mission, which from 1912 had been served by Grande-Digue. The first pastor was G. Anthony McDevitt. There were four schools within the parish.
Today, the community and parish is linguistically blended and mass has been bilingual since 1997. It is also the oldest Irish Catholic parish in Westmorland and Albert counties. The only other Irish parish that pre-dates it is St. Patrick’s in Chapel Point, N.B.
There is a monument dedicated to the early Irish settlers beside the church.