The Christian Brothers in Cahersiveen 1860-1999

” Give to the poor in handfuls ‘.
Blessed Edmund Ignatius Rice

In 1856 Dr Egan, Bishop of Kerry died and left everything in his will to a number of priests including Fr. Edward Fitzgerald P.P Kilcummin.

Fr. Fitzgerald saw the need for a school for boys first in Miltown but the Presentation Brothers were already in the process of establishing there so he decided that the Christian Brothers should establish in Cahersiveen. The people of Cahersiveen quickly accepted the proposal and Dr Barry, the local G.P offered the ‘ Temperance Room ‘ as a school. He also offered a house he owned ‘as a residence for a nominal rent. ‘ The two-storied ‘ Temperance Room ‘ was built by the people on a site given by the O’Connell family. It was used over the years as a reading room and as an auxiliary work-house during the famine. By the 1850s the ‘Temperance Room ‘ was owned by Dr Barry.

Bishop Moriarty at a meeting held in the church appealed to the people for funds for the school and Brother’s residence. The generosity of Bishop Egan and the people of Cahersiveen provided the necessary funds for the school and residence.

On 16th Jan 1860 the new school was opened and pupils from the town and surrounding area attended. The first Superior was Br. Austin Fitzgerald, brother of Fr Edward Fitzgerald who had provided the endowment for the school. Two other brothers, Joseph Manning and Joseph Buckley, completed the teaching staff. The Christian Brothers’ residence, the Monastery, was built in 1867-1868 costing £850.

The teaching of religion was central to all classes and prayers were said morning and afternoon on a daily basis. All pupils were expected to observe the requirements of the Church.The Brothers were also strong supporters of Irish Nationalism, the Irish language and Gaelic games.

Secondary Education was introduced in 1909 and proved a huge success and over the years the school was widely recognized as among the best second level school in the county if not the country. The school was particularly known for its constantly high achievements in Mathematics, Applied-Mathematics and Latin. Past pupils reached the highest levels in the Civil Service, ESB, Education, Meteorological Service, Western Union Cable Station, Local Government, Law, Politics and the Irish Army. Many other past pupils followed their vocation and became priests and brothers.

The Secondary School closed in 1999 and the boys attended the convent secondary school, St. John Bosco. A few years later secondary education was provided by the partnership school Colaiste Na Scilge which was created as a result of the amalgamation of St. John Bosco and the Waterville and Cahersiveen Vocational schools. The primary school, Scoil Mhuire, is now under the patronage of the Bishop of Kerry. The Christian Brothers provided an excellent education for the boys of Cahersiveen and surrounding area for almost 150 years.

Two brothers, Michael and Jerome Keating, were typical of a number of local boys who joined the Christian Brothers in the late 1930s and early 1940s. The Keatings came from a small farm of some 30/40 acres at Knockeens just outside Cahersiveen. Like most families in the area fishing supplemented the family income. Over the years Br. Jerome Colm held many senior positions in the order and eventually was unanimously elected thirteenth Superior General in 1990. He was a progressive influence in education as he sought to advance changes such as lay principals, parents rights and Boards of Management in primary and secondary schools. At Br. Jerome Colm Keating’s funeral mass on the 8th Oct 1999 Bro Edmund Garvey said ‘ As Superior General, he was honoured many times and in many places throughout the world. He was not always at home in these situations, but when such honours and hospitality came from poor people of this world, he truly enjoyed himself. ‘ (..from Jerome Colm Keating, Christian Brother Extraordinary, by Donal S. Blake cfc)