News archive 2004

New Business and Religion degree course launched in Thurles seminary


4 MAY 2004





The Most Reverend Dr Dermot Clifford, Archbishop of Cashel & Emly, today
launched a new Bachelor of Business & Religious Studies at St Patrick’s
College in Thurles, Co Tipperary.

Speaking at the launch Archbishop Clifford said, “St. Patrick’s College is
back in business! Following the closure of the Seminary through lack of
vocations in 2002, the future of the College looked very uncertain indeed.
This was nothing new however. The history of the College, since it opened
in 1837, has been somewhat of a rollercoaster. There were times when financial
problems and a student disturbance threatened its closure.

“St. Patrick’s College had many twists and turns in its history but it never
departed from the ideal of providing a liberal education for Catholic youth
destined for the priesthood and professional or business careers. There were
many and varied suggestions as to how it might be managed or run. The most
recent one was a suggestion that the College be handed over to the Gardaí
when decentralisation was announced late last year.”

The Archbishop continued, “The main objective of the college was to primarily
train priests for ministry among Irish Diaspora. Over 1500 were ordained in
the College. Many more pursued part of their studies in Thurles before
transferring to other seminaries, especially in U.S.A. The College can be
proud of its significant contribution to the Church and society at home in
Ireland and throughout the English speaking world.

“I am delighted to see this partnership, which begins today, between St.
Patrick’s College and Tipperary Institute, as we launch the Bachelor of
Education Degree. I should like to thank H.E.T.A.C. for all their work in
bringing this about. I should also like to thank the CEO of TI, Mr. Padraig
Culbert and his team who worked very hard to put their side in place. I
wish to similarly thank Fr. Christy O’Dwyer and his team here in the College
who did Trojan work to design their side of the programme,” he said.

Archbishop Clifford concluded, “St. Patrick’s College continues the mission
of the Church in the Archdiocese. I promise to make every effort to guarantee
its viability as an educational and pastoral centre. I hope that the College
will continue its long history of service to the Church and the wider community.
I never give up hope that the corridors of St. Patrick’s College will sometime
in the future echo again to the sound of seminarians at prayer, study and
recreation. Lay students will, of course, always be part of the future student


Further information:
Martin Long Director of Communications (086 172 7678)
Brenda Drumm Communications Officer (087 233 7797)



March 1821 Archbishop Everard died, bequeathing £10,000.00 for purpose of
founding a College in Thurles to provide a liberal education for Catholic
youth destined for the priesthood and professional or business careers.

It is interesting to note that business careers were envisaged at the very
beginning before the College had been built.

6 July 1829 Foundation stone laid by Archbishop Laffan in the presence of
Daniel O’Connell in the year Catholic Emancipation was granted.

1 September 1837 College opens. Had eighteen boarders. Numbers grew to
thirty by end of first year.

Numbers of boarders and day pupils continued to grow. Within a decade it
had 80 – 100 students, about 60 of whom were boarders.


1842 Philosophy Department introduced.

Efforts to develop a full seminary course at this stage were frustrated by
lack of resources, chronic debt, and the ravishes of the Famine.

During the 1850’s and early 1860’s a number of attempts were made to have
College taken over by other agencies – the new Catholic University, the
Jesuits and the Vincentians. None of these plans materialized.

In 1850 a Synod of the Catholic Church was held in the College. One of
the important decrees of that Synod of Thurles was to establish a Catholic
University in Ireland on the lines of the successful Louvain University.
Archbishop Leahy, the first Vice-Rector suggested Thurles as a suitable
location. John Henry Newman came to examine the building. While he approved
of the building his comments on the town of Thurles were not very flattering.
“This would never do for a site – a large fine building but on a forlorn
waste, without a tree, in a forlorn country, and a squalid town”.

The College was at a critical juncture. Archbishop Leahy wrote, “The funds
are so exhausted that no alternative remains but to close it or to appeal
to the wealthy Catholics on its behalf”. His impassioned appeal saved the
day at least in the short term.

Mid 1860’s Full seminary course introduced with addition of a theological
faculty in the College in academic year 1866 -67.

Meanwhile the lay department changes

– No more lay boarders after 1873

– But lay day students continued to attend College until 1907 when the
lay department closed.

1909 – 1986 Pallottine students receive academic formation in St Patrick’s College.

Primarily to train priests for ministry among Irish Diaspora. Over 1500
were ordained in the College. Many more pursued part of their studies in
Thurles before transferring to other seminaries, especially in U.S.A.

Thurles priests ministered especially in U.S.A.; Britain; Australia; New
Zealand and at home in Ireland. Small numbers have also ministered in
Canada, South Africa and, latterly, Iceland and Zimbabwe.


1.Anxious to ensure quality of its education programme, St Patrick’s
College affiliated with outside agencies in recent decades.

1973:Obtained Diploma in Theology from Maynooth Pontifical University.

1977:Affiliated with new statutory academic awards’ agency, the National
Council for Education Awards (N.C.E.A.- forerunner of present Higher
Education and Training Awards Council – H.E.T.A.C).

Obtained the National Certificate in Philosophical Studies award in 1977

Press Release Archive link:
29 August 2002
Statement from Trustees of St Patrick’s College, Thurles announcing suspension of seminary

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