“Thoroughly understand what it is to understand, and not only will you understand the broad lines of all there is to be understood but also you will possess a fixed base, an invariant pattern, opening upon all further developments of understanding”. In recognising this, the Canadian Theologian, Bernard Lonergan points to what is at the heart of a good education – not the teaching of facts or conclusions but the formation of a person who develops a pattern of learning, a manner of enquiry, and a thirst for knowledge and self-improvement that will never stop.
It is what we do in St Kieran’s College. To verify this we need only reflect on the continued breadth of achievements of our students which in this past year saw five of them attain the maximum points in their Leaving Certificate, 10% get 550 points or more, 20% get 500 points or more, 40% get 450 points or more and 51% get 400 points or more. Or the other successes of this past year: A Senior Colleges All-Ireland title – our 22nd; the Junior All-Ireland; Juvenile League Championship; defeated finalists All-Ireland soccer; the Marie Fitzpatrick award at the Kilkenny Music festival; winners of overall school in the All-Ireland Cross Country; and individual successes of 800m Gold; the FEI Pony world Jumping Trophy; representing Ireland in the World Junior Science Championship; three Silver National Swimming Championship Medals and so much more… We strive to create here a pattern of learning, a manner of enquiry, a thirst for knowledge and self-improvement that will never stop – even after we have left the glass hall.
This year we underwent a Department of Education and Skills Whole-School Evaluation – Management, Leadership and Learning inspection. Over a number of weeks department inspectors evaluated what we do and how effective we are in living out our mission – which claims that “academically, spiritually, physically and emotionally our students are encouraged to strive for all that is possible in the relentless pursuit of perfecting their individual gifts and talent”. In a wonderful affirmation of our students, teachers, management and families, they concluded that this “mission is lived out in practice”.
Thankfully, St Kieran’s College still also remains at the heart of the Diocese by being the home for the Diocesan Forum, the Adult Faith Development Group, the Pastoral Plan Coordinator and the Diocesan Retreat Team. These allow us to serve the Gospel and the people of Ossory – far outside the walls of our campus – on a daily basis. Recently it was an honour for a number of our students to be present for the announcement that Dermot Farrell would become the next Bishop of Ossory. As Bishop he becomes Patron of St Kieran’s College and thereby central to the ongoing history of this, the oldest Catholic Secondary School in Ireland. We welcome him and look forward to working with him in the years ahead.
This past year also saw the announcement that Maynooth University would discontinue its presence here in Kilkenny and, therefore, in St Kieran’s College. This news was received with sadness – the ending of a long number of years of collaboration. Since 1997 Maynooth University has been on our campus offering Third Level education. It is also, however, with a certain pride that we look back on the great number of students who had an opportunity thanks to that collaboration.
In keeping with the spirit that of advancement and progress, that is St Kieran’s, the space will not be unoccupied. I am delighted, then, to welcome Lighthouse Studios to St Kieran’s College. This joint venture between Cartoon Saloon and Mercury Filmworks will provide high quality children’s and family animated content development and end-to-end production services – from script writing, design, storyboard, animation and compositing to post production services – to a global client base. In the creative space it is a perfect fit for our campus – allowing people with immense talent to express themselves.
Great work continues with our Alumni Group following on from the Reunion last year and another Corporate event in Dublin. These pages document that story and I thank all involved for their ongoing commitment to deepening our network of supports and connections among, and for, our past pupils.
Much work continues with the Department of Education and Skills and recently we have been given the design brief for the works to be carried out. Another step on the journey towards a very significant new build on the campus and a refurbishment of our existing iconic buildings. These works will be carried out so that we can continue to best serve our students, who are the very heart of St Kieran’s College, into the years ahead.
In my role here I work closest, on a day to day basis, with the school management. In doing so, I get to see first hand the utterly selfless contribution and tireless commitment of Adrian Finan as Principal and Ken Maher and Liam Smith as Deputy Principals. They are Kieran’s to their core. Their love for this place, its history, tradition and its people shapes their vision for the atmosphere of education that they facilitate here. It is impossible to quantify the impact that they have on our community but I know, and I know you will agree, that in their hands we can but continue to flourish and our tradition for success will only ever deepen.
If good education is the formation of a person who develops a pattern of learning, a manner of enquiry and a thirst for knowledge and self improvement that will never stop, then – we do good education at St Kieran’s College. It is humbling to make that statement and know it to be true, but I do so thanks to all those who make it possible. I have, therefore, a real sense of gratitude to the students and their Council, the parents and their Association, the School and College staff, my colleagues on the Board of Management, the Trustees, Bishop Dermot our Patron, the Alumni Group and all those who add the air to the atmosphere of the relentless life-long learning and humble success that is St Kieran’s College.
Rev. Dr Dermot Ryan, President
Chairperson, Board of Management