College President


Rev Dr Dermot Ryan – President

I am delighted to welcome you to the website for St Kieran’s College, Kilkenny.

St Kieran’s College, which is a Diocesan College under the patronage of the Bishop of Ossory, was founded in 1782.  In fact records show that on the 12th October, 1782 a lease was signed for an old house in Kilkenny making St Kieran’s the oldest Catholic College in the country and ‘the first Catholic College in the Kingdom’.  Something that was possible because Grattan’s Parliament had relaxed its penal laws that same year.

Throughout its history the College was situated in a number of different locations throughout, but always at the heart of, the city.  The foundation stone for the College’s current neo-gothic home was laid and blessed in 1836.  Two years later the College found here a permanent home. Since then, to accommodate its ever growing work of education, many extensions have been added making the building of St Kieran’s College a fine blend of historical and modern styles.

When St Kieran’s opened its door to students long thirsting for learning, its aims were simple: the education and formation of each student, both clerical and lay, to the highest standards, based on the values of the gospel.

It would be easy in a place steeped in such a proud history and great tradition to spend our time looking back.  We could for example look to the fact that the seminary suspended its work here in 1994 or to the fact that the boarding school was closed to students in 2006 after 222 years.  However, these are but dates of changes in the College’s every growing and developing history.  St Kieran’s has through these, and other changes, always remained faithful to its mission and ethos.  So many men who studied here on the seminary and lay side proudly carry that history and tradition with them in positions of leadership in every walk of life in our country and far beyond.  Of this, and these men, we are immensely proud!

The College today remains a vibrant place of learning and formation.  It is one of the largest secondary schools for boys (over 720 students) in the Diocese and country.  The College is home to the first outreach campus of NUIM.  In 1997 The National University of Ireland, Maynooth welcomed its first students to St Kieran’s and today it has an average of 300 mature registered students.  In fact this year, 2013, it begins an exciting new phase of development and commitment to education in that it welcomes a group of CAO students to undertake the first year of their Arts degree here in St Kieran’s before they will move to the Maynooth campus for their remaining years of study.

The College also now houses The Kilkenny Research and Innovation Centre for teams from Telecommunication Software and Systems group in Waterford Institute of Technology and the Carlow Institute of Technology.   This Centre builds on the ground breaking international track record of TSSG; WIT’s and ITC’s joint entrepreneur development programme New Frontiers, the expertise available in ITC’s GameCORE and their new Interreg-funded INSPIRE Programme.  Twenty research staff are based in this new research centre in the grounds of the College, and this number is expected to increase significantly over time.  This centre provides incubation space for research and entrepreneurs in the important ICT sector and in doing this and in furthering education in Kilkenny it is at the heart of the mission of the College.

The College has also cemented its place at the heart of the Diocese and it is home for the Diocesan Forum Office, The Vocations Office and the Ossory Adult Faith Development Office.  We are delighted to also offer here, in conjunction with NUIM, a Certificate in Theology (Level 7) aimed at those who work in Parish Ministries and those who want simply to deepen their faith.

Much is going on inside the great walls of St Kieran’s and all of it is centered on our original and continuing mission to provide excellence in education and formation to all who come here.

Once more I welcome you to St Kieran’s College.  Enjoy your time spent looking through our website it offers some insight into the great life and energy of all who work and study here.  In keeping with our motto Hiems Transiit (‘Winter has passed’) from the Song of Songs (2:11) we hope your will find here a community of deep faith and warm hospitality.

Rev Dr Dermot Ryan

College President