This essay will examine the influence that the Catholic Church has had on one particular school; that school being St. Flannan’s College in Ennis, Co. Clare. ‘Churches have been deeply involved in education and this has had a large influence on the nature of the educational patterns which have evolved’ Coolahan (1981) This essay will examine how influential the Catholic Church has been on this school and the impacts and consequences on the school today as a result of this. We will firstly look at Saint Flannan and his historical and religious background. We will then look at the history of St. Flannan’s College and how deeply rooted the Catholic Church is in the school’s history in order to gain a perspective on how influential it has been and why. Finally we will then look at some issues that have resulted within the school as a result of the Catholic’s Church influence prior to and since the schools establishment in 1881.
In order to examine the influence the Catholic Church has had on St. Flannan’s College, one must first look to the relationship with religion and Saint Flannan himself. Saint Flannan is the patron saint of the diocese of Killaloe and is said to have descended from the powerful O’Brien family. Saint Flannan was born in the 7th century and was the son of Turlough who was King of Thomond. Flannan is said to have entered Molua’s monastery in Killaloe where he obtained work as a baker. Legend tells us that Flannan was appointed as Abbot following a miracle that occurred one day; after he had been baking continuously for thirty six hours, a light shone through the fingers on his left hand and lit up the darkness in which he was working. This enabled him to complete his task. Flannan was known for his hospitality and the people of Thomand agreed he should become the bishop. In order to do this, Flannan travelled to Rome where he was consecrated by Pope John IV. He is said to have performed many miracles. When he knew his health was deteriorating he gathered friends and family and expressed the importance of them in preserving natural and human justice. He also encouraged them to promote peace among the provinces and later died. Following his death Flannan became the patron saint of the Killaloe diocese. The Church of Ireland Cathedral in Killaloe is called after him as is the diocesan college, St Flannan’s, which we will look at in detail throughout this essay.
History of College
The history and story of St. Flannan’s college began in 1846; thirty five years prior to the establishment of the present building that now houses the school. That year saw the diocese of Killaloe lending its prestige and patronage to the private schooling conducted at Springfield house. Strengthened by the diocesan support, the school would function as both a diocesan seminary and as a day and boarding school for Catholic boys. Under this arrangement the school excelled and soon gained a reputation for excellence...