In 1986 Michael Purcell edited the Golden Jubilee Journal for the
Christian Brothers, Bishop Foley School. Due to shortage of space many
articles were omitted. As promised in that booklet C.C.H.S. intend to
publish the omitted material in our journals. The following is one such
article; it was submitted by Carlow born Cartan Finegan.
The mind has a tendency to block out unpleasant memories and maybe
that's why my recollections of Carlow C.B.S. are so sketchy, and I'm not
yet old enough to indulge in nostalgia. I mentioned the request to write
this little piece to my equally distinguished Carlow-man, Jimmy Kelly —
the head barman in the Shelbourne Hotel, and this kindly man remarked
sadly "Ah! the Christian Brothers . . . they were very hard". This
unlocked my memory log jam, and the images that were awakened
illustrated very vividly the different relationships between pupils and
teachers today and the Christian Brothers and their lay-teacher
subordinates in my day. The principles of any behaviour science did not
influence the single-sex authoritarian regime, which, while enunciating
the catholic ethos, practised the protestant ethic — that hard work
brought its automatic rewards.
Passing exams was the only end product, with no hint that producing good
citizens was also a community benefit.
The Brothers, whose simple nationalistic fervour was father to the Provo
inheritance; the 'leather' backed technique in teaching Irish that
assured its failure; the Retreats where the Missioner thundered in
"Portrait of the Artist" style, and whose probing of youthful sexuality
was more voyeuristic than guiding; the lay-teacher who scorned at boys
whose parents were very poor; and the one who whistled happily as he
dealt with the boys lined up for physical punishment, these are on the
unpleasant side of the coin of memory.
Coming from the nun's preparatory school, St. Joseph's into the
cold-looking new granite C.B.S., one became conscious of an austere
ambience, unsoftened by creativity in form, colour or attitude. But this
is less a reflection on the C.B.S. than on the society of that day —
which it mirrored. It produced very many sad results in pupils whose
skills in Gaelic and catholic doctrine equipped them poorly for the
societies to which they had to emigrate. The sense of betrayal,
articulated in cynicism expressed by the many whose children are now
very English, makes one glad that today's society, with all its defects,
is a much warmer and more human society and one hopes that is also
manifest in the Carlow C.B.S. as it completes its first half-century.
If some of our published material triggers off other memories, perhaps
you would put pen to paper and submit your story for publication.
We owe an enormous debt of gratitude to the Presbyterian and Methodist
communities in Carlow for their invaluable assistance in the past. They
have enabled our Society to create employment, by providing
accommodation for our projects and have allowed us to use their premises
as an archival repository.
By Cartan Finegan, who for many years was Head of Marketing for An Bord
Bainne internationally and is now Assistant General Manager of C.I.E.
and Director of C.I.E. Tours International. He is also currently
President of the Chartered Institute oj Transport in Ireland.
in Carlow Past & Present Vol. 1. No. 3. 1990 p. 105
The Christian Brothers in Carlow
Mrs. Mary O'Neill
1853, Most Rev. James Walsh, Bishop
Kildare and Leighlin, applied to the
Superior General of the Christian Brothers
to establish a Community in Carlow. He
the then Administrator of Carlow,
Rev. James Butler, to wait on the Superior
General in North Richmond Street, Dublin,
and to deliver the letter as below:
Dear Mr. Riordan,
Rev. friend who will hand you
this note will explain the details
regarding my desire to have an establishment
of the Christian Brothers in Carlow. I hope you will concur in my
views and enable me to have the
schools soon opened.
Accept the assurance of the esteem
with which I am,
My dear Mr. Riordan,
of the Brother Assistants came to
Carlow, where he was received cordially by
Bishop, who showed him a good well-built schoolhouse containing two rooms,
50 ft. x 20 ft. and two smaller classrooms, the whole well-enclosed and rented
£8 per year. The Bishop mentioned
that £1,000 as a foundation would be
invested at 5 per cent, and that an Annual
Collection would be made for the Brothers'
September 19th, 1859, three Brothers
arrived in Carlow—their temporary residence
was at No. 2 Montgomery Street,
formerly used as a school and known as
The Academy." The Brothers opened
School on October 3rd, 1859, in the National
Schools, College Street, the block nearest
the Dublin Road, the National teachers
having withdrawn according to notice given them.
More Room Needed
schoolrooms were soon found insufficient and the Bishop, to meet the
difficulty, fitted up an apartment in Montgomery Street. In 1883, they moved from
to the old Parochial School which the
Bishop had secured. The second storey was
removed. Thus the whole School was on
the same plot of ground.
1861, the Brothers moved to their present residence at Mount View,
Road. This house had been built and
occupied for many years by Thomas
Hughes, Esq., a retired Carlow draper and
father of Rev. James Hughes, sometime
Administrator of Carlow and subsequently
Parish Priest of Naas.
A New Wing
was found to be inconvenient with
its small rooms and low ceilings. The
Superior decided on adding a wing to it
and asked the financial assistance of the
Bishop, who gave his £100. The work
was commenced and finished in 1865. The
addition comprised a kitchen and
refectory on the ground floor and a visitors'
room and oratory overhead.
There was a Bro. Francis Clarke teaching in the Schools for twelve years from 1869-1881. The
impression made by this
devoted Brother on the minds and hearts
his pupils, past and present, was well
expressed when he died, by erecting a
Memorial to his memory. The Memorial
took the form of enclosing the Brothers' Cemetery with a
handsome railing and the
erecting of a beautiful Celtic cross to
his resting place.
Mount View Re-Built
Mount View was still found to be too
small to accommodate the Brothers. Bro.
O'Donoghue, Superior, succeeded not only
in renovating and enlarging the old house,
practically built a new one. It was a
commodious and comfortable residence and
£1,000. The Superior had the satisfaction of seeing the completion of the
that time, the entrance from the
Dublin Road was a little further up nearer
" Beechville." Stables and outoffices
occupied the space where the present
entrance gate stands. The Brothers kept
cows and had an extensive garden worked
the energetic lay-Brother O'Neill, who
sold milk and vegetables to the neighbouring
folk to supplement their small income,
which was mostly derived from school fees
collected in weekly pennies.
Tom O'Neill of Gayville tells me
this lay-Brother was the last member of
Community to be buried in their little
cemetery at the top of the garden. He
an altar boy at the time, and over 90
boys lined the paths as the coffin was
Carloviana. Journal of the Old Carlow Society Vol. 1. No. 4, New
Series, Dec. 1956. Page 37
Please report any links or images
which do not open to
The information contained in these
pages is provided solely for the purpose of sharing with others
researching their ancestors in Ireland.
© 2001 Ireland Genealogy Projects,
TOP OF PAGE