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Marking 175 Years Of St Patricks College In Thurles

Civic Reception to celebrate 175 year of St Patrick's College in Thurles.

Tonight Thurles Town Council, on behalf of the people of Thurles, held a civic reception to mark the 175th Anniversary of founding of the St. Patrick’s College, began in 1837 here in Thurles, Co Tipperary.

Addressing a large gathering, which included His Grace, Archbishop Dr Dermot Clifford, (Archbishop of Cashel & Emly,) Fr Tomas Fogarty (St Patrick’s College President ), Priests which including Fr Tomas O’Connell, Fr Joeseph Walsh & Fr Martin Hayes, together with Lecturers, Students, Lay Associates and Invited Guests, Thurles Mayor Mr John Kennedy stated:-

It gives me great pleasure, on behalf of Thurles Residents & Thurles Town Council to welcome you to this reception here in The Source this evening. This evening Thurles Town Council and the people of Thurles have deemed it appropriate to recognise St Patrick’s College on reaching a milestone, that of 175 years, of dedication to Thurles town.

St. Patrick’s College stands alongside Semple Stadium, Hayes Hotel and the Cathedral of The Assumption as ‘flagship,’ buildings in Thurles which are recognised throughout Ireland and even much further afield.

St. Patrick’s College owes its existence to the vision and generosity of Archbishop Patrick Everard, who donated the then significant sum of £10,000 pounds for the purpose of founding a college here in Thurles.  The foundation stone was laid on the 6th. July, 1829, by Archbishop Laffan in the presence of Daniel O’Connell and a large gathering.  Fr. Thomas O’Connor, a curate in Thurles parish, who was subsequently appointed the first President of the College, was assigned to oversee its construction.  Eighteen pupils entered the College on its opening day, September, 1st, 1837.

Since 1837 St. Patrick’s College has been part of the fabric of Thurles with its imposing entrance off Cathedral Street, opposite the Cathedral and the long tree lined avenue to the main entrance.  The current entrance was one of the improvements carried out for the Synod of Thurles, latter held in the College in 1850.  One of the decrees of the Synod was the decision to establish a Catholic University in Ireland.   St. Patrick’s College was put forward as temporary location in which to launch the University.   For a time, Dr. John Henry Newman, Rector of the Catholic University and later a Cardinal, seemed favourable to Thurles. However following a visit to the town he wrote: “This would never do for a site – a large fine building, but on a forlorn waste, without a tree, in a forlorn county and a squalid town.”

St. Patrick’s College for most of the last 175 years has been a Seminary, dedicated to the training of priests for service, both at home and abroad.   I note in my College research that the first bishop of Salt Lake City, Dr. Lawrence Scanlon, a native of Gaile, Moycarkey, was a past student of the College.  Thurles Town Council at the behest of Fr. Paddy Carley, Iona Avenue, also a past pupil of this College, entered a “Twinning,” arrangement with Salt Lake City in 2000 and I had the opportunity of making an official visit to Salt Lake City in recent years.

During the past 175 years St. Patrick’s College has had to meet many challenges and has showed a resilience and capacity to adapt to changing circumstances.  I think it is fair to say that the College met its most serious challenge for survival, in recent years with the very sharp decline in vocations to the priesthood.

St. Patrick’s College, however, as in the past, has adapted to meet this challenge and it is now a College of Education, primarily specialising in preparing students to teach in post-primary schools – offering two full time BA in Education, degrees, and I would like to particularly congratulate Fr. Tom on his leadership in taking the College along this new path.

I would also wish to acknowledge the co-operation of the College Authorities with the Local Authority over the years.  In the 1920’s the Archbishop and College purchased stock to create a fund for the implementation of an electric light scheme for Thurles.  I note from minutes that at a meeting held on Tuesday 16th. September, 1924, the Chairman explained that the stock held by the Archbishop for the convents, colleges etc would be represented by the Adm President  and Vice President of the College –  Rev Canon M K Ryan, Rev M J Ryan and Rev Cooke.
The land also on where the Shopping Centre and Erin Foods Factory were located, was made available by the College for the building of these two factories, then Phoenix Yarns and Erin Foods. While the land on which The Source Complex is now built was also donated by the College for the princely sum of £1.00, to provide a car park and swimming pool.

I would like to thank St Patrick’s College for their co-operation in the past and feel that the same co-operation will be forthcoming into the future if required.

Finally in conclusion I would like again to congratulate St. Patrick’s College on reaching this important milestone. i.e. their 175th Birthday and to wish the College, Fr. Tom and Staff every success in their endeavours in the years ahead.

Gratitude was later expresses, on behalf of St Patrick’s College by the His Grace, Archbishop Dr Dermot Clifford and the College President Fr Tomas Fogarty.

Also present at this event were County Manager Mr Joe MacGrath, Town Manager Mr Matt Short, Town Clerk Mr Michael Ryan, Councillor Evelyn Nevin, Councillors Noel O’Dwyer, Michael Cleary and Co. Councillor Seamus Hanifin.

To mark the occasion, thus acknowledging the magnificent contribution made by St Patrick’s College, the President of the College, Fr Tom Fogarty was presented with a Crystal Bowl and the Town’s Crest.

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