The Bish, one hundred and fifty years

On this day one hundred and fifty years ago, St. Joseph’s Secondary School formally opened. It represented a triumph for Dr McEvilly, Bishop of Galway, who had worked tirelessly to get the Patrician Brothers to Galway to add to the educational facilities for Catholic boys in the city. Indeed the bishop’s association with the school was such that it became known as ‘The Bish’. Others regarded it as a seminary for preparing boys for the priesthood and so it was also known colloquially as ‘The Sem’.

Some days after the opening, the following report appeared in The Galway Vindicator. “We had the pleasure of going over the Seminary of St Joseph with the Reverend Superior, and we are bound to say that the arrangements made for the reception of the boys are all of the most approved character. The house, which was lately occupied by Captain Thompson, superintendent of the Royal Atlantic Steam Navigation Company, and which was in excellent repair, is a large building of three storeys containing several apartments. Four of the principal rooms have been furnished as class rooms in the very best style, without any regard to expense. There will be ample accommodation for about two hundred boys. A singular fact in the construction of this house is that the top storey consists of a hall from which six small rooms are entered --- three on each side, the hall occupying the middle space of the building. The worthy superior pointed to that as if the architect of the building had providentially designed it at the commencement for a monastery, the rooms alluded to being the approved size and shape for the cells of the good religious. The garden had been made into a playground in the centre of which a gymnastic pole has been erected. Altogether the new Seminary has been fitted up in the best style having all the appliances necessary for conducting a first class school.”

Our photograph today shows those who graduated from the school 100 years later, the Leaving Certificate class of 1962. They are, front row, left to right; Brian Warner, Frank McDonagh, Terry Small, Tom Cantwell, Tom Stanton, J Murphy, Matt McNamara, Frankie Brennan, Jack Geary, Rory O’Connor. Second row; E Joyce, Frankie Deacy, Stan Shields, L Faherty, John Kearney, A Kelly, Declan Shields, Matt Gaffey, Mike Dooley, Noel Kavanagh. In the third row are James Doyle, Joe Campbell, J Higgins, Dave O’Keeffe, Dermot Walsh, Cormac Duffy, Michael Conneely, J McCambridge, Des Berry, Billy Herterich, Kevin Lydon. Back Row; J McDermott, Vinny White, Gerard Glynn, Johnny O’Flynn, Joe Burke, Tommy Connolly, P O’Shea, Peadar Burke and Tim Mahony.

On this historic day for the school, we leave the last word to one of its notable graduates, Walter Macken. “It is the home and schools that mould you. Now after all those years I have come to a favourable conclusion about my school. I am what I am on account of my home and the Brothers and the Bish and if I had my time over again, taking everything into account, I wouldn’t really wish to change. May the Bish and the Patrician Brothers flourish forever.”

The Galway Archeological and Historical Society will host a lecture by Professor Máirín Nic Dhonnachadha in the Harbour Hotel on Monday next, December 10 at 8pm with the intriguing title “The Medieval Irish Imram and the West of Ireland”. All are welcome.

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