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From Tullow to Newbridge … proud record
of the Brothers of St. Patrick
The word ‘Patrician’ means associated with Patrick so it’s appropriate this week if we look back at the story of the Patrician order of teaching brothers who have earlier this year celebrated the bicentenary of their foundation. The order has a special connection with the Diocese of Kildare & Leighlin as it was founded in Tullow by Daniel Delaney, then co-adjutor bishop of the diocese  There were celebrations too fifty years ago when the commemorations of the order’s 150th anniversary took place in Newbridge where the order has had a renowned school since 1939.
The Leinster Leader of 15 March 1958 reported that to mark the occasion Solemn High mass was celebrated in St. Conleth’s Parish church by Monsignor Miller PP and a special sermon was preached by Fr. John Gahan, CC Clane. Both celebrant and preacher were past pupils of Patrician brothers schools. Among the clergy involved in the ceremonial were Rev. A. McNally CC, Rev. Shine, CC, while the choir included Fr. Healy, OP, prior of the Dominican College, Bro. Francis Redmond, Superior General of the Patricians at the time, Bro, Lazerian, superior, Newbridge, and Bros. Brendan, Aidan, Alphonsus and Damien. Indeed it was the latter who had established the Patrician house in Newbridge in January 1939.
The Leader report proceeded to eulogise the contribution of the brothers to education in Ireland in general and Newbridge in particular. The Brothers of St. Patrick had, in the comparatively short space of 150 years, done wonderful work throughout many countries and the community in Droichead Nua had, in the previous eighteen, supplied their full share of the Order’s great contribution to Catholic education. In that period they had been responsible for the administration of the boys’ primary schools through the portals of which had passed hundreds of youngsters equipped for life’s struggles by the teaching of the Patricians.
It went on: ‘Many honours, large and small, have been earned over the years by former pupils of the Droichead Nua Patricians. The beflagged Monastery and schools were the outward show of a notable day (150th anniversary): the Droichead Nua Patricians shall continue their fine work in the knowledge that their efforts maintain to the full the high principles of their founder …’
The homily was preached by Fr. Gahan, a Patrician past pupil and then curate in Clane. He recalled the circumstances of the foundation of the Patrician order. The key figure was Daniel Delaney, co-adjutor bishop of Kildare & Leighlin who, in the early 1880s,  saw the need for a Catholic education for young boys at a time when the penal laws were being relaxed by the British allowing the Irish Catholic church to re-establish pastoral and educational leadership. There were also social problems to be tackled, particularly the prevalence of alcohol. Bishop Delaney’s initial focus was on making Sunday a day of temperance and he established a Sunday school in Tullow with men and women acting as mentors on a voluntary basis.  After some years he saw the need for a continuity of leadership, and for expanding the educational role of the schools beyond Sunday, and this led Bishop Delaney to found an order of religious brothers in 1808 which he titled the Patrician Brothers in honour of the national patron.
Within a few years the Order began to extend to other locations, Mountrath and Galway being among the early foundations. As with many other Irish religious orders the call to the foreign missions was answered with generosity and the Patricians sent men to establish schools in India, Australia and America. Their foundation in Newbridge was relatively recent with Bro. Damien Early heading up the first community of brothers to the Liffeyside town in 1939.
Fr. Gahan concluded his sermon at the 150th anniversary celebrations in 1958 with the stirring commendation: ‘High then should be our esteem for the Patrician brothers when we consider how privileged we are to have had such a thorough training …May the good deeds of the Brothers spread and multiply, until, like the sun, they shed their golden rays far and wide.’
Series no. 58

Unique celebrations in Newbridge in 1958 to commemorate the 150th Anniversary of the Patrician Brothers and their arrival in Newbridge in 1939, from the regular feature by Liam Kenny, 'Nothing New Under the Sun,' in the Leinster Leader, 13 March 2008. 

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