Monday, June 30, 2008

Cardinal launches history of his alma mater

A book which chronicles one of Ireland’s best known seminaries and boarding schools, St Patrick’s College in Cavan, has been launched by Cardinal Seán Brady, who is himself both one of its former students and former teachers.

The College Boys: a history of the students of the Kilmore Academy and St Patrick’s College, 1839-2000 was researched by historian Raymond Dunne and – until his death - the former bishop of Kilmore, Francis McKiernan.

The cardinal praised the work of Mr Dunne and the late bishop who decided to compile the book after St Patrick’s ceased to operate as a boarding school in 2000.

“My alma mater, like every strong and loving mother, retains a huge hold on me,” he remarked, adding that on a recent visit to the college chapel after becoming a cardinal, he was deeply moved to be in the presence of a former teacher, a former pupil from his own teaching days in the college and his own nephew, who is currently one of its students.

Dr Brady said he regretted that Bishop McKiernan had not lived to see the book published but knew that though physically absent, he was there in spirit.

Bishop Leo O’Reilly said the book stood alongside several other histories of aspects of the diocese and praised the work of the local history society Cumann Seanchais Bhreifne, which fostered the study of the area’s past.

He said it would be “impossible to overstate the importance of the colleges to the Church and society” and added that he hoped St Patrick’s would continue to do so.

“I hope the recent pastoral letter on Catholic education will help all our schools to rediscover and renew their vision and ideals and enhance that contribution in the years ahead” said Dr O’Reilly.

The Kilmore Academy was founded in 1839 and some 900 students passed through it over the following 35 years, including a hundred priests and six future bishops.

By the late 1860s, the Academy had out-grown its buildings and the then bishop, Nicholas Conaty, embarked on the building of St Patrick’s College to supplant it.

The college ceased to take boarders in 2000, and its first lay principal, Patsy Lee, was appointed in 2005.

The College Boys is available from bookshops or direct from St Patrick’s College (049-4361888) at €35.
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