Fifty years is a long time to be away from a place, but for the twenty-five former students of St. Kieran’s College who gathered there for a reunion last week, some things had not changed at all (the old class halls, the walks, the undependable clock, the hurling trophies on display) and some things had changed beyond recognition (the number and variety of the staff, the range of subjects studied, the amount of extracurricular activity).
The visiting group, made up of former boarders and day-boys from the late 1950s-early 1960s era, also included two of its surviving teachers (Fr. Seamus McEvoy, now ministering in Seir Kieran, and Joe Lambe, Castlecomer Road) and a former head prefect (Monsignor Ciarán Ó Mearáin, formerly of Camden diocese, New Jersey, and now living in retirement in Dublin).
Before the formalities began in the afternoon of Thursday August 21st., a small group toured the classrooms, library and learning areas of the National University of Ireland at Maynooth in the former seminary facilities. They also visited the former Burrell’s Hall student residential complex, which is now a temporary home to approximately twenty technical and service research and development companies.
The incubation units co-ordinated by RIKON, a service of Waterford Institute of Technology, offer an amazing variety of activities in areas as varied as tourism, agricultural technology and telecommunications. Also there is the offices of the Carlow Kilkenny Energy Agency.
The residential units in the adjoining Birchfield residences are now available for Arts students who study for a year at the Kilkenny campus before continuing at the main campus in Maynooth.
Mass in the college chapel was concelebrated by priests from the class and the college, led by Fr. Tom Norris, now Spiritual Director of the Irish College in Rome, and Rev Dr. Dermot Ryan, College President. Also in attendance was Monsignor Jim Walsh, a class member now retired from service in the diocese of San Jose, California.
A reception was held in the college parlour at which Dr. Ryan gave an inspiring assessment of the role of St. Kieran’s College in the region, the country and (as represented by its alumni) the world at large. He observed, if St Kieran’s doesn’t make a real difference in the life of its students, then it has no reason to exist. But, and this was his point, the consensus of those gathered was that it did and does make a massive difference: Time and again the results in everything from Leaving Certificate examinations to sporting championships to semi-academic competitions and award schemes suggested that the ‘black and white’ of the college colours really adds something to its students.