Unveiling the specially commissioned limestone and bronze 125 Arch, positioned to frame St Fin Barre’s Cathedral, the site of Cork’s first place of Christian education, the President commemorated the iconic institution and its enduring position in the heart of the city.
The celebrations on the day took the form of a great gathering of the college community: including Bishop Buckley, pupils and teachers, representatives of the Edmund Rice Schools Trust, the Board of Management, parents councils and many members of the Past Pupils Union. Marking this milestone. Principal of CBC, Dr Laurence Jordan, likened the arch to a window looking back at the school and its past, while also looking out over the city and into the future. He paid tribute to the Christian Brothers who moulded the college over many decades into one of the most successful educational establishments in the country: “The Brothers left a great legacy behind which is being diligently protected and developed. Their careful attention to character formation, to respect for others and for nationhood, to concern for the less privileged both at home and abroad in the spirit of our founder Blessed Edmund Rice, to hard work and consequent high academic achievement in education — still lives on.”
Christian Brothers College, or simply ‘Christians’ as it is known locally, first opened its doors in August 1888, on the site of a school that had been established 46 years earlier in 1842, just before the Great Famine. In 1857, the school moved to a building in St Patrick’s Place and thereafter became known in the city as ‘The Christian Brothers College’, or simply ‘Christians’. In 1988, the College moved from its original site in St. Patrick’s Place to a new location, one hundred yards away, atop Sidney Hill. “Development and improvement of the college is an ongoing process, and we are very pleased to have recently received planning permission for a new sports complex, which will begin construction in the near future,” said Tony McCarthy, College Administrator.
The Preparatory School has 150 pupils in total, with 840 in Secondary. The Secondary and Preparatory are one school, pupils from Sixth Class move automatically into First Year. “This is a great benefit when there is such a strong demand for places in the Secondary School. Pupils arrive in the Preparatory School at four years of age holding their mother’s hand. 14 years later they leave the School as adults. In a real sense, they grow up in Christians.” Admission applications to CBC continue to rise every year as better transport infrastructure within the region help to widen its catchment area. “We have many pupils from North and East Cork now, as a result of improved rail and bus links, and the upgrading of the road system throughout the county has now made CBC very accessible to potential pupils from a far bigger geographical area than ever before.”
While the sporting achievements of Christians are well established through its long history in provincial competitions, it has also been the seed bed for many international sportsmen, particularly on the rugby pitch. Similarly, many of its alumni have become prominent international figures in the fields of politics and business, links which are proudly celebrated in a rich heritage where educational prowess is forever interlinked with personal and social development. A measure of the continuing standard of excellence within CBC is underlined by the recent Leaving Certificate results, where Conor Moloney and Gleb Dzhus achieved First in Ireland in Higher Mathematics and Physics, respectively. In pursuit of its aims to recognise the less fortunate, the College initiated the Total Immersion Zambia Project in 2003, with teachers and Fifth Year pupils going to Zambia to work as part of a programme designed to foster greater awareness of the Third World.
Integral to the ongoing development of the college down through the decades, the Past Pupils Union remains a tower of strength to the vital funding and future planning of the institution. “Since its formation in 1931, the ethos of the Union has been to support, encourage and indeed sponsor the work and life of the college,” said Tony McCarthy. “Indeed, the Union has contributed to CBC. in ways that could not have been imagined by its founders.” When the time came in the mid 1980s for the big challenge, namely the building of a new Secondary College and a new Preparatory School, the Union became the bedrock of the project.
As to the ethos of CBC Cork in this second decade of the new Millennium, the words of former Principal Brother Reynolds at the opening of the new college in 1988 continue to ring true: “Our particular ‘Christians spirit’ embraces a spirit of friendship and loyalty; a spirit of charity and brotherhood, a spirit of honesty, integrity, diligence and a will to succeed. It is a spirit that has characterised the pupils of the College down through the years, and it has helped to shape and fashion the hallowed traditions of CBC that are so very special to the countless past pupils, young and old, at home and abroad.”