Message from the President
On 18th December 2017, the great American basketball player, Kobe Bryant, was having his jerseys retired. He spent his entire 20-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers and in so doing led them to five championships. On this day his #8 and #24 jerseys were to be retired – Bryant won three championships wearing the former and two in the latter. On that occasion from the podium he spoke directly to his daughters and told that future generation
“Those times when you stay up late and you work hard; those times when you don’t feel like working — you’re too tired, you don’t want to push yourself — but you do it anyway. That is actually the dream. That’s the dream. It’s not the destination, it’s the journey. And if you guys can understand that, what you’ll see happen is that you won’t accomplish your dreams, your dreams won’t come true, something greater will”.
That’s the dream. It’s not the destination, it’s the journey.
And what a journey it is… for those of us fortunate enough to walk with the students here in their formative years we are blessed to be invited to share with them a truly sacred journey: a journey towards adulthood; a journey towards life; a journey towards becoming the most complete versions of themselves; the journey to realising their God-given potential. It is humbling, day after day, to see the manner in which our students, their families and our staff, make that happen.
In this past year, on that journey, we stood in the sadness of the losing dressing room of a Leinster final, but, thankfully, we later stood proudly with that same group of players in a Croke Park dressing room having won our 24th College’s All-Ireland Hurling final. A team, panel and management equal to any of the greatest of our proud history. That day was not the result of some simple lofty dream but the hard won effort of work, even on days when maybe they were tired, didn’t feel like working or didn’t want to push themselves – but they did! They understood, as do all here in St Kieran’s College, that when you do all that you can, in every moment, “what you’ll see happen is that you won’t accomplish your dreams, your dreams won’t come true, something greater will” – and for our students here so often it does – cross country, swimming, debating, young scientists, football, musicals, variety shows, trad bands and in so much more…
In recent weeks we were delighted to hear that planning permission had been granted for the complete refurbishment of the existing school buildings and the construction of many new buildings for our school community. This is the fruit of a lot of work, in many seen, and unseen, ways, easy inches often met then with hard yards – not the dream but something greater. We now progress to the final detailed drawings of these wonderful plans to realise our vision for the College and the educational experience, relentlessly pursuing excellence, that we can provide for our students here.
Recently we also saw the formal retirement of Mr John Curtis as Principal of St Kieran’s College. For the past seven years he has been seconded to the JMB/AMCSS as its General Secretary guiding all Voluntary and Catholic secondary schools in Ireland through turbulent years in education – from the industrial action which began his tenure to emerging from covid, which coincided with its end. I have seen at first hand, as a colleague here in the College, as a member of the Council of the JMB and always as a friend, just how deftly and resolutely John has led education in this country and the immense contribution, and wonderful legacy, that he leaves behind. John didn’t dream about the education he would like – he worked hard to make something greater happen.
This past year, then, also saw the formal appointment of Mr Adrian Finan as Principal of St Kieran’s College. Adrian, thanks to the confidence of the Board of Management in his abilities, was asked to ‘act-up’ as Principal at the point of John’s secondment. Over these past seven years he had skilfully, astutely and purposely led this school community to continue to grow and improve. He has led us in difficult days and easy ones – the norm of any journey. It was wonderful, then, to see Adrian compete for, and win, his appointment as School Principal; not a prize for work done or dreams realised but a vote of massive confidence in his ability to continue to take us beyond our dreams to something greater. I thank him and the other members of our senior management team, Mr Ken Maher and Mr Liam Smith, for their leadership and guidance, passion for, and commitment to, everything that is St Kieran’s. They and their wonderful colleagues on our school staff do so much to ensure that the journey our students are on brings them to destinations beyond their dreams.
The College remains very much at the heart of the faith community of the Diocese of Ossory. Over this past year it was wonderful to see so many of the Diocesan Synodal sessions take place here in the College Chapel. The future of our Church in Ireland being discussed in the Chapel of its oldest Catholic secondary school. I am delighted to see the continued activity of the Diocesan Forum, the Ossory Diocesan Pastoral Council, the Diocesan Pastoral Coordinator and the Diocesan Faith Development, all continuing their work from the College grounds.
In January we celebrated the Ordination of Bishop Niall Coll as the 96th Bishop of Ossory and, as such, the Patron of our school and Chair of our Trustees. It was an immense honour for our students to be part of that celebration and to welcome him back to the College to mark with us the Feast of St Kieran. Bishop Niall has a long tradition in education and as such we look forward to the many ways we can continue that journey together. In welcoming him we said goodbye to Bishop Denis who journeyed with us as Apostolic Administrator for two years. His great energy for, and commitment to, the College was deeply appreciated by us all. We hope he will remember fondly his days with St Kieran’s.
In this past year Mr Dermot McCarthy, Dublin, and Ms Bernie Fitzpatrick, Johnstown, have stepped down as College Trustees. Their wisdom and guidance has been an immense support to me in all things to do with the College and any continuance to things better than that for which we might dream is due, in no small part, to the contribution they, and all the other Trustees, have made. I thank them most sincerely knowing that words will not capture the contribution they made during their tenure as Trustees. I welcome also the addition of Mr John Curtis as a new Trustee of the College – like all great teams turnover need not weaken the panel.
While these retirements were some years ago, these pages document our covid delayed celebrations with Anne Weymms, Niall Connelly, John O’Keeffe, Ann O’Shea, Bernie Dowling, Pat Drennan, Michael Kelleher, and the retirement now of Eilish Ahern and Mary Martin. We note with sadness too the deaths of colleagues Tom Looby and Fr Pat Comerford. Bryant, in retiring, noted “it’s not about my jerseys that are hanging up there for me. it’s about the jerseys that were hanging up there before me”. To all, then, who have gone before us and raised the bar, set the standard, so that we may follow – a sincere thank you.
Finally, and most importantly, I want to thank the students – we are, I continually tell you, most proud of you and all that you achieve. For allowing us to be part of your journey we thank you; for humbling us continually with your ability, resolve and relentless commitment we thank you; for repeatedly reminding us that you don’t just accomplish your dreams, your dreams don’t simply come true, something greater does… we thank you.
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 Niall as our Patron, the Alumni Association and our past pupils and all those who make St Kieran’s College. On this journey we never forget the whisper of the risen Lord – hiems transiit.
Rev. Dr Dermot Ryan, President
Chairperson, Board of Management