The Christian Brothers in Dundalk
Edmund Rice was born into a farming family on June 1 1762, at Westcourt, Callan, County Kilkenny, Ireland. Edmund married Mary Elliot but after three short years of marriage, Mary died and he was left to care for their baby daughter. He was devastated.He spent many years trying to decide what God wanted him to do.
At first he thought God wanted him to become a priest.Then, with the help of his friends, he realized that God wanted him to use his special gifts and business talents to provide an education for the poor boys of Waterford. He began to sell off his business interests and started a school for poor boys in a converted stable.
In 1802 he started building a monastery in Waterford City. The school at Mount Sion was built to accommodate about one hundred boys in each classroom.
In the early days, when Edmund first began to attract followers to his way of life, they formed themselves into a small group of companions. In time, two religious orders would look to Edmund as their founder; the Congregation of Presentation Brothers and the Congregation of Christian Brothers. Edmund sent Brothers to open schools in many parts of Ireland.were also opened right across the globe.Today the Brothers of Edmund Rice are working in 30 countries across five continents.
In 1838 Edmund Rice retired as Superior General of the Order and returned from Dublin to live in Waterford. He was then 76 years of age and suffering from painful arthritis. Edmund died on Thursday, 29 August 1844. He was buried at Mount Sion in the heart of Waterford city. His death led to widespread sorrow in Waterford. The people felt they had lost someone who had really been on their side.
On 6 October 1996, Pope John Paul II beatified Edmund Rice, the founder of the Christian Brothers and the Presentation Brothers. He was declared ‘Blessed’.
The Christian Brothers first opened a school in Dundalk in 1868. The last Brother, Bro. Cahill, retired in 1985. The current school building was opened in 1940.
The History of Dundalk
Dundalk had been originally developed as an unwalled Sráid Bhaile (meaning village; translates literally as “Street Townland”). The streets passed along a gravel ridge which runs from the present day Bridge Street in the North, through Church Street to Clanbrassil Street to Earl Street, and finally to Dublin Street.In 1169, the Normans arrived in Ireland and set about conquering large areas.
By 1185 a Norman nobleman named Bertram de Verdun erected a manor house at Castletown Mount and subsequently obtained the town’s charter in 1189. The town of Dundalk was developed as it lay close to an easy bridging point over the Castletown River and as a frontier town on the northern extremities of the Pale.
In the 17th century, Lord Limerick (later James Hamilton, 1st Earl of Clanbrassil) created the modern town we know today. He was responsible for the construction of streets leading to the town centre; his ideas came from many visits to Europe. In addition to the demolition of the old walls and castles, he had new roads laid out eastwards of the principal streets. In the 19th century, the town grew in importance and many industries were set up in the local area. This development was helped considerably by the opening of railways, the expansion of the docks area or ‘Quay’ and the setting up of a board of commissioners to run the town.