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President Higgins pays tribute to Christian Brothers in Cork

By Sarah Mac Donald - 17 November, 2013

President Michael D HigginsPresident Michael D Higgins has paid tribute to the Christian Brothers’ contribution to education in Cork during a visit to CBC Cork for the school’s 125th anniversary.

In his address to the 1,000 students and the staff, the President told them that they could see the foundation of the school “as a powerful statement in favour of democracy.”

He said it was “right and proper to acknowledge those who offered education to those least likely to afford it”.

The President acknowledged that the ethos of the school “from the very outset” had been committed to “education and the promotion of Christian values and the education of the person in terms of a whole character,” he said.

CBC principal, Dr Larry Jordan, said President Higgins’ visit added “immeasurably to our celebrations and ensures this day will stand out as one of the most memorable in the annals of the college.”

To mark the establishment of the school by the order in 1888, President Higgins unveiled a limestone and bronze sculpture in the shape of an arch, which was created by sculptor, Mick Wilkins.

“The Christian Brothers took over the management of this school from the Vincentian Order in 1888 at the invitation of the Bishop of Cork,” the President recalled.

But the school predates this as it was founded in 1842 by Fr Michael O’Sullivan from Bantry, who set the school up with the assistance of the Vincentian Order.

According to the Cork Examiner, St Vincent’s Seminary, as the school was called then, was based in Cork’s old Mansion House, which is now part of the Mercy Hospital complex. In 1857, the school moved to 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.

At that time, it accommodated students studying for the priesthood and students who wanted a second-level education.

However, ten years later, the Bishop of Cork oversaw the building of a seminary in Farranferris and those who wished to study for the priesthood moved there.

In 1888, the non-clerical students stayed at St Patrick’s Place, where the newly arrived Christian Brothers took over the running of the school.

The school then became known as ‘Christians’. The new college was built in Sidney Hill in 1988.

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