A walk through the famed Glasshall of St Kieran’s College brings into sharp relief the impact of so many students and staff, clerical and lay, who down through the years have become part of the history of this hallowed institution and whose presence even still reverberates in every aspect of college life. Now, as in the past, students are offered an excellent academic education and also a formation for living which enables them to realise their full potential and bring the values which are esteemed in St Kieran’s to bear on their community, chosen career, and ultimately on society.
While past and present achievements of St Kieran’s and its students are viewed with pride, there is an awareness of the need to continually build on what has already been realised in a two hundred and thirty one year history of forming leaders for Ireland and beyond. The challenges faced by today’s young people, our leaders of tomorrow, demand a certain vision that encourages excellence, rewards ability and creativity, and inspires qualities of leadership, commitment and maturity.
This current edition of the College Record detailing life in St Kieran’s during the past year bears testimony to the response of students and staff to the ideals and vision outlined above. 2013/14 was a year of remarkable accomplishments in every field. In the Leaving Certificate more than one in four students achieved over 500 points, eight more than 580, and two the maximum 600. In hurling we won a 19th Senior Colleges’ Hurling All-Ireland and a Leinster Juvenile Hurling title. We were Gold, Silver and Bronze winners in the National Athletics Championship in the 200m, high-jump and 3k walk respectively and moreover many of our students continue to represent Ireland in areas such as snooker, pool, walking, running, basketball, high-jump, boxing, tretrathalon and many other pursuits. Two further All-Irelands were also brought to St Kieran’s this year with excellent wins in the All-Ireland Agricultural Science Quiz and the All-Ireland Business Quiz. Celebrating academic and sporting honours is an important part of recognising the gifts and talents of our students which are evident in so many other areas too. Exemplifying the ethos of the College some students this year raised over €6000, prompted by the experience of a friend and fellow student who has successfully battled serious illness this past 12 months, and furthermore we have seen another launch his CD, again in support of others in charity. In my role as Chairperson of the Board of Management it is wonderful to see our students exemplify an ethos we cherish so greatly.
With regard to the wider college campus the continuation of St Kieran’s relationship with the NUIM was deepened by presence of forty-nine full time students beginning their Maynooth First Arts Degree here on campus and the ongoing presence of over 320 part-time students continuing their education is indeed a positive for us all.
Educational outreach facilities also extend to the Diocese with twenty-three students participating in the Certificate in Theology which prepares them to return to their parishes better equipped to engage with the needs of the Church at that level today. The mission of St Kieran’s has always extended beyond its gates to a community that continually faces the challenge of growing in faith. The work of the Adult Faith Development Office ensures that the requirements of parish communities are identified and met through constant reflection and a proactive response to the need for resources and support at many different levels. Providing office space for the diocesan vocations’ office and the diocesan forum also ties us, St Kieran’s, to the heart of the life and potential of the local church in Ossory as it seeks to implement pastoral structures and plans going forward. We are also happy to host the diocesan and Kilkenny archives both of which continue to catalogue and build a collection of items of historical significance.
As President of St Kieran’s it would be remiss of me not to acknowledge the considerable financial investment that enables so much to happen here and provides badly needed resources for our students in these tightened economic times. This year, thanks to the Department of Education and Skills and the support of the College Trustees €248,580 has been invested to preserve, upgrade and develop our campus and to ensure that it is ready to best serve our future.
All of this, the wonderful past, the lively present and the promising future, is possible thanks only to those who give of their time and energy to St Kieran’s. I am obviously grateful for the immense contribution of my predecessor, Kieron, in his long years of work here. His tireless dedication to and passion for the College and its grounds has further enriched this already wonderful place. I am also especially conscious of, and want to sincerely thank, Mr John Curtis, Principal and Mr Adrian Finan, Deputy Principal, for their commitment to St Kieran’s which is to be experienced on a daily basis. Their wisdom and counsel has, on so many occasions, helped me to settle smoothly into a new role here this past year. I am both professionally, and more importantly personally, grateful to them for all they do for St Kieran’s and its family. And what a family it is… the staff, the students and their Council, the parents and their Association, my colleagues on the Board of Management, fellow Trustees and Bishop Séamus Freeman our Patron, all of whom by their dedication to the place, show that St Kieran’s is not simply a College like any other, but that it is truly something special. May we continue to work together building, in light of the Gospel, on our past to serve an ever brighter future…
Rev. Dr Dermot Ryan
St Kieran’s College