As the Industrial revolution gathered pace, Glasgow would grow to become the second City of the Empire. The nineteenth century saw huge changes in the City. The population was increasing at a tremendous rate as people moved into the area in search of work in the burgeoning docks and factories. In the 1801 census, the Population of Glasgow is given as 77,385. half a century later, in 1851, the population was 344,986. This huge increase in the population of the city continued until it peaked in 1951 at 1,089,767. Throughout this period, the boundaries of the city shifted to accomodate the rising population. In 1912, for instance, Partic and Govan were brought under the control of the City of Glasgow.
The people who moved to Glasgow came from a variety of places. The highland clearances brough native Scots to the City in large numbers. While the failure of the potato crop in Ireland in the mid 1840’s, saw huge numbers of impoverished Irish immigrants arrive in Glasgow. Most of them were simple looking for a way to escape the horrors that afflicted their own homeland in those sad years.
The 1861 Census tells us that 300,000 first generation Irish people were living in Scotland. The majority, although by no means all, of these Irish immigrants were Catholics and they were to have an important effect on the small Catholic Church in Scotland.
The growing industrial belt around Glasgow was the destination of the majority of these immigrants. They were to transform the Catholic Church in the City. In the late eighteenth Century a priest had to travel from Perth or Edinburgh to administer to the twenty or so Catholics of Glasgow. By 1808 this community had grown to 2,300 and by 1831 it had climbed to 27,000. By the time of the Papal visit to Glasgow in 1982, it was an Archdiocese containing some 290,000 Catholics.