The President unveiled a striking sculpture on the grounds of one of the country’s most famous secondary schools yesterday to mark the 125th anniversary of its foundation.
President Michael D Higgins said the limestone and bronze CBC 125 Arch outside Christian Brother’s College in Cork is a confident articulation of the city and of the school’s scholastic achievement.
When viewed from the school’s main entrance, the Gothic-style pointed arch by Cork sculptor Mick Wilkins, frames St Fin Barre’s Cathedral, the site of Cork’s first place of Christian education.
Principal Larry Jordan, who joined CBC in 1981 as a French and English teacher, and who was appointed its first lay principal in 1994, said it was an historic day for the school.
“The school prides itself on tradition and longevity,” said Dr Jordan.
“We have students here today who can trace generations of their family back through Christians — their fathers went to school here, their grandfathers went to school here. Today really is a milestone and we hope it gives students a sense of the identity of the school, a sense of the history of the school.”
President Higgins praised the Christian Brothers, all the staff, and everyone involved in the school over the decades.
He stressed the importance of ethics and urged today’s students to value friendship.
Among the well-known past pupils at yesterday’s event were former tánaiste Peter Barry, whose grandson attends the school today, and Ted Crosbie of the Irish Examiner.
Although CBC opened its doors in 1888, the school can trace its roots back to 1842, when the Christian Brothers took over a school started by Fr Michael O’Sullivan, originally from Bantry.
Fr Michael sought help from the Vincentian Order to run the school, which was known as St Vincent’s Seminary, and which was based in Cork’s old Mansion House, now part of the Mercy Hospital complex.
In 1857, the school moved to an old building in St Patrick’s Place.
The Vincentians ended their involvement with the school in 1876 and handed control over to the Bishop of Cork. He renamed the school St Finbarr’s Seminary, and a new building was built on St Patrick’s Place, to which the students moved in 1877.
At that time, it accommodated students studying for the priesthood and students who wanted a second-level education to enable them to enter a profession or university.
Ten years later, the then Bishop of Cork had a residential seminary built in Farranferris and it became mandatory for boys who wished to study for the priesthood to attend that college.
In 1888, the clerical students left St Patrick’s Place for Farranferris, which was renamed St Finbarr’s Seminary, while the non-clerical students stayed at St Patrick’s Place, where they were taught by the newly arrived Christian Brothers, before the school became known as ‘Christians’. The new college was built on a site at Sidney Hill in 1988.
The President also visited Liscarroll National School in Mallow, where he opened the Liscarroll Community Childcare Facility and Elderly Project, and he performed the official opening of a new walkway at Donkey Sanctuary Ireland.
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