St Stanislaus College

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St Stanislaus College SJ

Republic of Ireland
Other namesTullabeg Jesuit College
TypeBoarding School
Religious affiliation(s)Roman Catholic (Jesuit)
Religious orderSociety of Jesus

Rahan St Stanislaus College was a school in Tullabeg, Rahan (raithean meaning ferny place) County Offaly. St Carthage founded a monastery of 800 monks there in 595 before founding his monastery in Lismore. The Presentation Sisters also have a convent in Rahan, Killina, which was founded at the same time (circa 1818) as the Jesuits founded St Stanislaus College.

Jesuits in Tullabeg[edit]

St Stanislaus College was founded as a boarding school for boys under the age of thirteen in 1818. It was endowed by the O'Briens, a local gentry family (Killina - also donated lands for presentation convent and school in Killina), and was intended to cater for upper middle class Catholics, as was the sister college at Clongowes Wood College where most of its pupils would graduate to. In the 1850s, the school was enlarged to take older boys. Cricket was played at the school the first pitch being laid under Fr. Delaney's rectorship and the facilities developed by Father Wisthoff, a German Jesuit, were highly regarded;[1] he also had the Grand Canal widened to allow rowing.[2]

University Preparation[edit]

While Fr. William Delany SJ, LLD(RUI), was rector 1876 similar to Carlow College and St. Patrick's College, Thurles students were able to be matriculated and examined by the University of London for BA degrees, following the establishment of the Royal University of Ireland in 1882 pupils would progress to the Jesuit UCD,[3] students from tullabeg it was noted achieved high marks in examinations for the Royal University.[4]

Closure of the School[edit]

However, in 1886, the school was closed and the boys were transferred to Clongowes. This may have been because of a shortage of priests, as the Jesuit House in Dromore, Co. Down closed the same year and Mungret College in Limerick had just been established.

Jesuits Novitate[edit]

St. Stanislaus College was sometimes titled Domus Probationis et Studiorum Tulliolana (The House of Formation and Studies at Tullamore) by the Jesuits. In 1918, Tullabeg became a formation house for Jesuits novices[5], where it became affectionately known as "the Bog". Some Jesuits would serve their Tertianship in Tullabeg. Among its Rectors, Very Rev. William Henry, S.J.. In 1930 some 52 novices were transferred to the Jesuits in Emo Court, and Tullabeg catered for training Jesuits who had completed their University studies.[6] In 1962 the philosophy school was transferred to Jesuit School of Philosophy in Milltown.[7] It was subsequently a retreat house until shortly after Easter 1991, Fr. Brendan Murray was the last rector.

After the Jesuits[edit]

The public church was always well attended by congregations right up until it closed. The Novena to St Francis Xavier each Autumn and the Novena to The Sacred Heart in June drew very large crowds. Confessions were held every Saturday all day until the day it closed. (shortage of Priests yet again) The building and grounds remained closed for a while before being bought by a local builder and used as a Nursing Home ( St Ignatius Nursing Home) and a 9-hole golf course. Since then due to problems with an external investor the nursing home was closed and for a while the golf course remained but it too closed a while after. During the time the premises was under administration it was placed under the care of a British security company who failed to secure the property properly. As a result, it wal plundered and vandalised. Lead taken off the roof etc. It was bought since by two people from the midlands. The building is now boarded up but the 9 hole golf course did reopened but has since closed with a new club house and a coffee shop built, there was a restaurant and a bar named The College Bar the bar and driving range remain open to this day.[8] This being March 2012. Kevin A Laheen has written a detailed history of the college called the Jesuits in Tullabeg. Either 3 or 4 volumes. The College as it was known locally was the spiritual heart of the area and is sadly missed. Fr Hyde was a saintly Priest who lived in the college in the early to mid 1900s. He is said to have successfully prayed for the cure of several people and people still pray to him today. Local woman Maureen Finnerty (Died March 2012 R.I.P.) was cured by his prayers from epilepsy. She was left his Priestly stole and many people visited her at her home in Tullabeg until her death to be blessed with the stole. Maureen spent up more than 5 hours each day in prayer. The stole is now in the possession of her son Tom Finnerty from Tullabeg - Aughadonagh, Rahan.

The chapel at Tullabeg with its seven Evie Hone windows was one of the glories of Irish religious art of the twentieth century. They are now housed in the Jesuit Residence at Manresa House, Dublin. The altar was designed by the architect Michael Scott with carved altar front by Laurence Campbell, the altar is now in Mucklagh Catholic church.


The Jesuit Cemetery is beside the rear avenue entrance on the clara side of Rahan, 42 jesuits and one lay college worker are buried here.[9] All remains were left here after the Jesuits departed. Headstones were removed at one stage making the exact location of burial places matching headstones marking them as being unreliable. There was a plaque erected for 8 jesuits buried in the older rahan graveyard before the establishment of the Jesuit Cemetery in 1874.

Notable alumni[edit]

  • Andrew 'Gilbert' Turneriac
  • Alfred Aylward - Irish Nationalist
  • Matthias McDonnell Bodkin BL, KC, Journalist and MP
  • Francis Bergin, Engineer and Architect
  • Fr. Francis Browne SJ, spent two years as a noviate in Tullabeg, famous for his photographs of the Titanic.
  • Fr. Stephen Brown, S.J.[10]
  • Sir William Francis Butler GCB PC Lieutenant-General in the British Army, writer, and adventurer, he also served on the National University of Ireland Senate.[11]
  • James Laurence Carew Nationalist MP
  • Professor Timothy Corcoran SJ - Professor of Education in UCD
  • Fr. Joseph Dalton SJ - returned to Tullabeg as a teacher, and served as Rector (1861-65) before going to Australia, where he founded a number of Churches and Schools.
  • Richard D'Alton Williams - Young Irelander, poet and contributor to the Nation.
  • Michael Louis Hearn - Nationalist MP for South Dublin (1917-1918).
  • Edmund Leamy BL, editor of United Ireland, the Parnel supporting Nationalist MP (Waterford City, Cork North East, South Sligo, and North Kildare)
  • Sir Joseph McGrath BA(London) - Secretary of the Royal University and first Registrar of the National University of Ireland
  • Jack Meldon Solicitor, Irish Cricketer, TCD Cricket Champion and Irish Billiards Champion.[12]
  • Rt. Hon. Sir Nicholas Roderick O'Conor, P.C., G.C.B., G.C.M.G., (1843–1908) was diplomat and served as Ambassador to Russia and Turkey.
  • Sir Michael O'Dwyer, British colonial administrator and Governor in occupied India.
  • Patrick Joseph Smyth - Young Irelander, Nationalist MP, friend of John Mitchel.
  • Thomas Joseph Tobin, Barrister and Cricketer for Leinster and Ireland.[1]

People Associated with Tullabeg College[edit]

Others associated with Tullabeg include W. H. Grattan Flood who thought music there as well as at Clongowes, the Jesuit and Poet Gerard Manley Hopkins is known to have visited Tullabeg, and stayed there on retreat in his final year, and his notes from this retreat are very negative and pessimistic.[13] Fr Thomas A. Finlay, SJ, the priest, writer, editor and economist, taught for a year at the college. Fr. Peter James Kenny who founded Clongowes was instrumental in the establishment of Tullabeg. Fr. William Sutton S.J. served as rector from 1890-1895. The theologian Professor John J. O'Meara thought in tullabeg, others who spent time in Tullabeg include Fr. Fergal McGrath SJ, Fr. Edward Coyne SJ (founder of the Catholic Workers College/ National College of Industrial Relations) and the historian Fr. Francis Shaw SJ. The former confederate chaplain in the American civil war John Bannon ministered at tullabeg in 1880, after he returned to ireland and joined the Jesuits. Rev. Alfred Murphy S.J. served as Rector of Tullabeg. Fr. Donal O'Sullivan SJ who was chairman of the Irish Arts Council, was Rector of the College in the 1940's, and commissioned works by Evie Hone.


  1. ^ a b Thomas Joseph Tobin StatsZone, Cricket Europe
  2. ^ Senia Pašeta Before the Revolution: Nationalism, Social Change and Ireland's Catholic Elite, 1879-1922. Cork University Press, 1999.
  3. ^ Tullabeg(Rahan) 1818 - 1968
  4. ^ The Queen's Colleges and the Royal University of Ireland by a scholar of the Catholic University of Ireland, (Dublin 1883)
  5. ^ The blessed John Sullivan, already 39 years old, did his Jesuit noviceship in St Stanislas' College, Tullabeg (from 1900 to 1901)
  6. ^ Jesuits of Tullabeg Rahan Parish website
  7. ^ The Jesuits in Tullabeg by Fr Kevin Laheen SJ, Vol 3.
  8. ^ St. Stanislaus College - History Tullybeg Golf Club.
  9. ^ The Jesuits in Tullabeg Book 3: The Final Curtain 1991 by Kevin Laheen, S.J., published by O'Brien, 2010.
  10. ^ Life of Father Brown Archived 2007-11-18 at the Wayback Machine. Central Catholic Library, Capuchin Annual, 1942.
  11. ^ William Francis Butler - A Timeline Our Heritage Website.
  12. ^ John (Jack) Michael Meldon Cricket Europe 2012.
  13. ^ Gerard Manley Hopkins, County Kildare and Monasterevin Gerard Manley Hopkins Archive, UCD.

External links[edit]