Message from the President
Hiems venit – winter has come. It is impossible not to see the world in which we live this as one, in many respects, covered in the shadow of winter. We have endured the covid pandemic for over two years now and in recent months we have witnessed an unthinkable attack on the people of Ukraine. These certainly have been tough times. When you think education, schools – our school could not take any more, it turns out we had to.
Hiems venit – winter has come. Sadly, possibly the greatest tragedy to occur in our School’s history happened this past academic year when young Harry Byrne died. The very tragic outcome of a very simple accident. Friends doing that most beautiful thing of simply “hanging out” – chatting – pucking the odd ball and being together. These are the simple moments that make school days so special. These are the most sacred of moments in the company of our best friends; being yourself.
Hiems manet – winter remains. In the days that followed it was heart-breaking to live with that hurt. To see the pain of Harry’s beautiful family and friends – in school, in his club and in his parish community. To see that hurt and not to be able to stop it, fix it, or even for a moment to ease it. Sometimes you just have to sit with it and walk with it.
Hiems manet – winter remains. We gathered in Gowran to celebrate Harry’s funeral Mass – a devastatingly sad occasion in which we tried to capture, as if it is ever possible, the beautiful life of a truly special child, a truly precious student. That day, and in the days that followed, it was often what was unsaid that mattered most. A presence, a hand held, a gentle touch, a simple smile, that didn’t try to say it would be ok but rather one that said I’m with you in this.
Hiems manet – winter remains. The days that followed were no different. The pain didn’t ease; the feeling of helplessness a constant companion. But we walked together literally and figuratively; we shared stories; we said prayers; we “hung out” because even though school will teach us many things the one lesson we all learn here is that sometimes “hanging out” is what it is all about. It is being in the company of our friends and families that enables us to grow; to mature; to develop, to become what we are supposed to be.
Hiems transiit – winter has passed. I have learned now that this is not, nor should it have ever been considered, a statement of fact – as if, once overcome, winter will not come back. No, each time we step into spring days we know that we are one day further from the last winter, but equally another day closer to the next. So hiems transiit is, then, more a statement of an attitude, a decision, a spirit that we all learn in this special place. It is a declaration that winter will not overcome nor shape my days because I know I have journeyed it before and emerged; and if I have done so once then I can do it again.
Hiems transiit – In St Kieran’s College we know all too well that parents entrust to us their most precious gift, their most loved children, asking that we will help them to grow and mature into the young men they quickly become. It is our privilege to be given that task – to be entrusted with that responsibility. It is our joy to see it happen from the very moment the students start to settle in the school.
Throughout this academic year we have, as always, done that together. We have grown, advanced, learned and matured. We have played sport together. We have entered competitions and won; we have entered some and lost. There has been music and drama, poetry and song, there has been lessons learned and some not. Each year we simply edge this tradition along – we add our bit to the great history of this College. Here but for a short time we too can leave our mark.
Our design team have recently come though a stage 2a meeting with the Department of Education and Skills at which final approval for the design and build of our new school was approved. It is breathtakingly beautiful, a fitting addition to the already wonderful buildings that adorn our school campus. We will, in these weeks, be applying for planning permission and then, hopefully, go to tender for the works themselves. Along with the new buildings all the existing buildings will get a complete refurbishment too. It is a most exciting time to be part of the College community.
St Kieran’s College continues to lie at the heart of the faith community of the Diocese of Ossory and now far beyond. It is wonderful to see the continued activity of the Diocesan Forum, the Ossory Diocesan Pastoral Council, the Diocesan Pastoral Coordinator and the Diocesan Faith Development office. In this past year two national faith initiatives have found a home here too with the College being the birth place of the MyFaith Programmes of Sacramental preparation now being used by parishes across the island of Ireland. In recent months too the Aspal Digital Faith Development App and platform has emerged from the College, a collaboration of the Diocesan Faith Development team and St Patrick’s Pontifical University, Maynooth. This platform is intended to bring the highest quality faith formation and education to people throughout Ireland. A bright new possibility in which Ireland’s oldest Catholic College continues to offer very new means of evangelisation for the world today.
The College Trustees, along with our Patron and Apostolic Administrator Bishop Denis Nulty, have worked with me in several significant projects helping to ensure our ability to control all that happens on the College Campus and to offer new exciting possibilities for other Kilkenny Schools in the western environs.
In this past year we lost two very esteemed teaching Colleagues in Ms Maureen Meany and Mr Tomás Ó Murchú – their wonderful time spent in the College, and the legacy that they left, is marked in these pages. Their memories populate our minds and hearts, sadly now with so many other fallen friends. That they smile on us from heaven – we trust.
I want to thank, most sincerely, the other members of the senior management team in St Kieran’s College: Adrian Finan our Principal, Ken Maher and Liam Smith our Deputy Principals. I work closest with them and I know first hand their deep commitment to everything that is St Kieran’s, an immense love for its past, an attentive care of those who are its present, and a great vision for its future. Their work ensures that the College will remain as strong today, and into tomorrow, as it has been in its proud past. It is relentless; it is all consuming; but it is fun and it is always a privilege. It is thanks to them and their wonderful colleagues on staff that we are able to care for, and nurture the young men who are entrusted to us. I am continually humbled by the immense ability of our staff to continually give more to our students; by way of encouragement and opportunity; to continually relentlessly pursue the highest standards of education, and to continue the deepest care for every individual student here.
We are most proud of our students and all they have achieved during this past year – individually and collectively. Guiding them is our honour, coaching them is our privilege, encouraging them is a simple task and enjoying the fruits of those gifts is our joy.
St Kieran’s College is a special place – and its people make it so. Therefore, as always I have a deep debt 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 Denis our Patron, the Alumni Association and our past pupils and all those who make St Kieran’s College.
Hiems venit, hiems non manet, hiems transiit.
Rev. Dr Dermot Ryan, President
Chairperson, Board of Management