IN the year 1951 the History of Saint Kieran’s College was published, and in a foreword to that excellent work I wrote these words : ” Diocesan readers may be dissatisfied that many well-known and beloved names who took a leading part in the life and work of our College, especially those of luter years, are missing from the history, or are just casually mentioned, or at most get a thumb-nail biography. It is indeed regrettable, but in a short history like this, covering almost two centuries, nothing more could be expected or attempted. Full length notices or biographies are more material for an Annual with its frequent appearances, and its hospitable chatty pages. I now express the hope and wish that a College Annual will emerge almost as a necessity to supplement in many ways the details which no college history can attempt. Tn the life of our College, past and present, there is rich material for such an Annual, it should have many writers, and would receive a wide and cordial welcome.”
That wish is now a reality, and with shy but sprightly step the oldest Diocesan College in Ireland enters on the educational stage with her younger compeers, makes her bow, and announces her first appearance with the college Bugle-call ” Hiems Transiit, 1782.” She is indeed 173 years young, ancient but ever new, up-to-date except in the matter of Annuals, and this defect she proceeds to set right, here and now, by the College Record in your hands. The dark winter of the Penal Laws against Education and Religion has passed indeed, and the blossoms, flowers, and fruits of learning and education have appeared in the land. And we know we will not be misunderstood if, looking back, we murmur ” prosit ” to the School which, greatly daring, relit the Lamps of Learning, and helped to recall to life Ireland of the Saints and Scholars. It is our earnest hope, and our objective, that our Record, or Annual, will be a valuable and welcome link between the Alma Mater and her scattered children, and between the Alumni themselves. It may seem late to begin, but not too late. The only thing that is too late is the worth-while thing that has never been done or attempted. We have encouraging precedent and example in what we attempt, since practically every college, school, and educational body in every land has its Past Pupils’ Union, which as a matter of course and honour now produces its Annual or Record. It must be wise and good . . . securus judicat orbis scfwlarum . . . everyone is doing it, and we would not be considered peculiar !
The official history of a school or college may be called the still life of the Institution in question, while the Annual represents its life in motion and action on many fronts. The Annual or Record may serve a double purpose, first as a practical advertisement, keeping itself and its work before the public mind, as seems so necessary these days. On a higher plane they are found to be the best-· , way of keeping contacts between the school or teaching body and its past students, and between the past students themselves. This can be very useful socially, professionally and culturally. Without straining analogy, the position might be likened to a mother sitting at home in the evening of life, following her children in loving thought and memory, longing to be near them again, or at least to hear of or from them when the calls of life take them from her side : and on the other hand the ” children,” the past students looking back often and wistfully trying to see ” the old familiar faces ” of class-room and exam. hall, of chapel and study, of recreation on the playing fields, of triumphs in the College Theatre at Play or Concert or Debate, longing for the golden times gone down the dusty street … but finding no organ of contact and communication, both spend a life of virtual separation, nursing memories that would be doubled if shared. To unite the Alma Mater with her lost children to their mutual advantage is we think the work and mission of any school or college annual or magazine, fostering that deep instinct of love of Horne and Country and Vocation, and the enduring companionship of College Days. To this high purpose we dedicate our first college Record, to the Kieran’s Priest on his mission work at home or abroad, to the lay Alumnus in his profession or business, to our companions of the old days now working in the fields of home, or in far foreign cities or towns, all one Big Family of the same Alma Mater.
We know we are novices just now in the making of a college annual or record. We are experimenting as beginners, and we feel we may be making mistakes; we may not be on the right lines, or on the lines you want, but we hope to improve by the old method of trial and error, and you can he! p us in this. We want you to write to us (always with an eye to publication in the next Record) to give us your opinions, where we have failed, where we can improve, what you want, and we will try to give it, and so please everybody as far as that is possible. We want your co-operation, and you need have no fear of hurting us when you are candid, as long as criticism is constructive. Our Record is in the hands of a capable and experienced Editor, who is also a distinguished alumnus of our college. He has our fullest confidence, and that is our best guarantee of success now and in the future. The big news from home that dwarfs all else is that the dream of a lifetime is at last being realized. The building of the New Wing has actually started ; the Contractor has his bulldozers and other machinery on the spot, preparing the Site. The Building is to be completed in eighteen months, and the all-in costs will not be less than £70,000. Our pictures will give you the exact location of the New Wing, and what your college will look like when the original Plan is implemented by getting its full complement of Two Wings. The New Wing will be on the west side of the college, and will correspond to the Moran Wing in stone and general architectural finish. It is a heavy and difficult work, but it is God’s work, and a necessary work, and so we undertake it humbly but confidently in the Name of God, Our Lady, and Saint Kieran. It will give us more room for students, and that means more vocations and more Priests, and that is all that matters. We will want good wishes, your Prayers-and your Pounds !
+ PATRICK COLLIER, Bishop of Ossory.
Feast of St. Kieran, 5th March, 1956.