Fr. Thomas Dillon was born in Killaloe Diocese, Ireland in 1870, educated at Ennis and was ordained at Maynooth in 1897.
His first parish was at Ss. Peter and Paul in Bolton as curate and then in 1900 he was appointed Rector of St. Anselm's, Whitworth where he served 4 years. Health issues caused him to take extended sick leave from 1904. It was common for priests in frail health to be given chaplaincies as this would be less strenuous than running a parish so to introduce Fr Dillon back to his priestly work, he was made a chaplain, first as Chaplain to the Fairy Hill Orphanage in Higher Broughton, where he devoted himself particularly to the many orphan boys in the home, and then in 1908 he was appointed Catholic Chaplain to Strangeways Prison (pictured above) in Manchester. During that time he lived 14 Catherine Road, Higher Crumpsall. He stayed as chaplain to the prison for twenty two years. There were more than 30 executions while he was chaplain to Strangeways and so it is likely that on a few occasions he would have had the unenviable task of preparing a prisoner for death.
In 1930, Bishop Henshaw judged Fr Dillon was sufficiently recovered and strong enough to be appointed to succeed Fr. O'Donnell as parish priest at St Luke's. Little is known about his time in the parish - the parish log was not written up during his time. What we do know is that the parish still had a debt to pay of over £5000 and that there would be interest mounting on the amount outstanding.
The strain of his position in a new parish however seriously affected him and caused another breakdown in his health. It was clear he was unable to cope. In 1931 Fr. Dillon was given an assistant priest, Fr. Timothy Crowley. Fr Dillon was forced to give up any really active work in the parish. On the parish priest's departure early in 1932, Fr Crowley took charge of the parish until the June when he was given a new appointment as curate at St. Robert's, Longsight.
Fr Dillon retired to Ahaclare, Sixmilebridge, Co Clare. He "endured severe physical and mental sickness in his last years" until his death on October 3rd (or 4th) 1938.
Unfortunately there are no known photographs of Fr Dillon.
Can you help
- Do you have any photos of Fr Dillon? Are there any old photo albums with photos of weddings or christening of this time?
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