I recently visited Ireland’s main burial site for the Christian Brothers; it is in Baldoyle’s Dublin Road at the back of their former residence, which is now a block of luxury apartments. Access to it is gained by arranging in advance to fetch the key from the nearby St Patrick’s Care Home.

Though it is well worth the visit, it resembles nothing more than a far off war cemetery that has been transposed to Ireland. Hundreds of Christian Brothers are buried there, two to a plot, like so many fallen soldiers. The graveyard is surrounded by huge plaques to hundreds of other Brothers and is overlooked by a gigantic monument to many hundreds of other Irish-born Christian Brothers, who died overseas. It is impressive in its stark austerity.

Though I found the grave of several specific Brothers who were on my list, I didn’t locate the far-famed Br Tom Keane, who taught a number of future government ministers and whose Leaving Cert Honours Maths book, a copy of which he presented to President De Valera, was a staple in days gone by.

Glin Christian Brothers celebrations 2 January 1956 ilim (1) (3) - The  Shame of Ireland

Br Keane is now just one of thousands of all but forgotten Christian Brothers, whose free labour was abused to build this nation of ours on the cheap. Abused, some became abusers and Ireland’s elite gombeens, never ones for self-reflection, never queried why those thousands of young boys went off to enlist for a dog’s life in a celibate order once they entered secondary school.

Whatever chances there were for self-reflection in the past, there are none now. Even Moving Hearts are ashamed of their Wise Christian Brothers’ song, which perfectly captures the experiences of those Micky Mudsds and Paddy Stinks the Brothers were lumbered with in our less enlightened days.

Without the Brothers, there might have been no 1916 Rising or Black and Tan War, as many of those all but forgotten patriots were products of the Brothers’ cut price education. 

Without the Brothers, there might have been no GAA as their school teams were the foundation stones on which that organisation was built. Des and Lar Foley, who lie buried in nearby Yellow Walls, were Brothers’ boys, as was Kevin Heffo Heffernan, who rests in nearby St Fintan’s, at the far end from Charlie Haughey, a Dublin senior medal winner with Parnells, who, with his all Ireland winning brother Jock, was taught and trained at St Joseph’s school by Br Keane, who co-founded St Vincent’s GAA, which began the Dubs brand. 

Ollie Freaney lies in Balgriffin and Simon Behan and Johnny Joyce, the man with the golden boot, rest in Fingal. As does Mícheál Ó hEithir, an O’Connell’s and Vincent’s Christian Brothers’ boy and possibly the greatest sports commentator these islands have ever produced.

I made my way out to Baldoyle because Br Keane and his colleagues did much we, as a nation should be grateful for. Although the Brothers prove Shakespeare’s maxim that “the evil that men do lives after them; the good is oft interred with their bones,” I cannot see any good their major critics have ever done. Perhaps, that fault is mine as, in their own eyes, those overpaid and under-worked mercenaries who sit in Leinster House can be guilty of no wrong.

Posted by Dr Declan Hayes

11 Comments

  1. This world’s more full of weeping than we can understand.

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  2. A good friend mockingly talked about the pedophilia in the Catholic Church. I reminded him that pedophilia has been found in almost every sporting organisation, religious organisation and large media group (BBC).
    He retorted that the Catholic Church moved the perpetrators about knowing their crimes. I reminded him of Jimmy Saville.
    The fact is that pedophiles found their way into these organisations in every walk of life and the Catholic Church was no different just larger than most.
    As I have said many times before Ireland is in a rush to rid itself of its past whether religious or not. It races towards a multicultural globalist hellscape where the crimes that were perpetrated by those in the Catholic Church are held up as sins of the horrible past while sins of the multicultural groups (Muslim Grooming) are not to be discussed because that would be seen to be racist.
    Meanwhile the past is rewritten like a script from “1984” where the new multi ethnic invasion is touted as the saviour of the nation and eventually rewritten to push the natives out of their own history lauding the multicultural state as being there all along (Brigerton 2). I quote the BBC and Bridgerton 2 as the UK is where I live but I’ve had one moron tell me in YouTube comments that 10% of Irish students in the 60’s were black. I reminded him that I grew up in the 70’s and never saw one black person until the late 80’s and that being singular.
    Unfortunately I can see no way back for Ireland. All the work done by our ancestors to build the nation is disregarded.

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    1. Thank you for the comment. I hope you are wrong about no way back, but you’re probably right.

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  3. Ivaus@thetricolour 09/04/2022 at 4:48 pm

    Thank you Declan Hayes, I never forgot my CBS, The Christian Brothers were
    Highly respected in my time,educated during 60/70 period. Yes,they built the GAA,and I with a great number of past pupils achieved so much in our personal
    lives,I do not need to mention names. International recognition ,from that Era.
    The gaa now,is a basket case,their own doing.Education is a basket case. What
    Moran took Ireland on the road to degeneracy, what fool could not make a living,we were educated then…sadly not now…nothing but bullsh.t and trans –
    what…it changes day by day…they will take over the Alphebet…noodle version .
    Ireland’s biggest problem today,in a boat without a rudder,no captain and
    certainly no able bodied hands…blame the church,MAN, will never replace GOD

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  4. James Flanagan 11/04/2022 at 6:11 am

    And of course their Jewel in their Crown, Synge Street, the Eton of Ireland. Leadership is the ability to take raw materials and turn them into Presidents, Taoisigh, Attorney Generals, Actors, Writers, Broadcasters Sportsmen the list goes on and on and on.

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  5. Well written and accurate. The revisionists would have you believe that anyone Catholic is evil and being a nationalist is a crime, but the real criminals are those who distort the truth and betray their people (in our case the Irish people) When the nuns and brother’s gave us an education the state was grateful for not having to pay them. And when the nuns ran our hospital’s they were clean and disease free. Those nuns and brother’s were no more evil than any other profession. But recognising their contribution to Ireland is politically unnaseptable by the europhiles who seek to destroy nationalism and christianity.

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  6. What is the point of this article?

    He starts off with this obscene virulent anti-clericalism – describes the religious vocation as a “dogs life” and brings in the stereotype about priests being abusers; then he finishes up by saying “I cannot see any good their major critics have ever done”. But isn’t the writer also a critic of the Brothers like the rest of them?

    The final sentence about politicians being “overpaid” and “under -worked” just goes to show the tabloid-esque worldview this writer holds. It’s a response you’d expect to receive from a homeless man when asked his political opinions. It lacks charity and it contributes nothing to the debate. This is the journalistic equivalent of saying the referee was terrible .

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  7. As the comment of Martin S is one of the most stupid and ignorant I have read from any ANTIFA member anywhere, let’s go through his diatribe in full to see what a fool he is and why outfits like the Christian Brothers are needed to teach cretins like him some basics.

    What is the point of this article? *** That is made plain in the title and in the course of the article.
    He starts off with this obscene virulent anti-clericalism – describes the religious vocation as a “dogs life” *** There is nothing obscene, virulent or anti-clerical in saying the Brothers had a “dogs (sic) life” teaching cretins like Martin S.

    and brings in the stereotype about priests being abusers; *** he writes about Christian Brothers, not priests. Obviously, Martin does not know the difference. Here is the relevant Wikipedia entry: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sexual_abuse_cases_in_the_Congregation_of_Christian_Brothers

    then he finishes up by saying “I cannot see any good their major critics have ever done”. But isn’t the writer also a critic of the Brothers like the rest of them? *** In Martin’s eyes, the writer is “a critic of the Brothers like the rest of them” but Martin is an ANTIFA troll and that does not negate the earlier statements about the good the Brothers did. ANTIFA High Command need better trolls.
    The final sentence about politicians being “overpaid” and “under -worked” just goes to show the tabloid-esque worldview this writer holds. *** Irish politicians are the second highest paid in the world. They are currently on holiday, again. Tabloids take care writing for morons like Martin S, their target audience.

    It’s a response you’d expect to receive from a homeless man when asked his political opinions. *** As opposed to the erudite and comprehensive comments of Martin S and ANTIFA.

    It lacks charity and it contributes nothing to the debate. *** Says the troll, who eats up bandwidth to make no points.

    This is the journalistic equivalent of saying the referee was terrible . *** It is instructive that soccer terraces and the hooliganism that goes with it are how Martin S ends. Such a stupid tangeant and in no way relevant to the article or Martin S’s earlier argument (sic).

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  8. What did I just read? This is such a quintessential low-IQ populist response – lacks any charity or nuance, rife with personal attack.

    At the beginning of the article the author describes the vocation of a brother as a “dog’s life”. I thought the author was describing that life as a dregged existence, hence why I said it was anti-clerical. If the author was instead stating that they were treated like dogs, then I misunderstood it, but treated like dogs by who? The hierarchy? The state? They chose to live that life,I don’t think they’d like to be compared to animals.

    Sorry you’re right, I said priest when I should’ve said brother. Bringing up the clergy being abusers is equivalent to a Tory bringing up the atrocities of the IRA or a feminist talking about the gender demographics of high society, it’s a talking point meant to push a narrative. I don’t think we need to contribute to that talking point by bringing it up, I believe that stereotype was manufactured anyway.

    If you want to respond, could you try to be polite instead of calling me an ANTIFA agent every chance you get. You aren’t going to change anyone’s mind by acting like that. You are perpetuating the stereotype that right-wingers are angry and uncivilised

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  9. […] Irish Christian Brothers: Reflections on the End of a Tradition by Dr. Declan Hayes, The Burkean, April 9, […]

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  10. Nice to read a balanced article on the brothers. Their provision of quality education to many is often overlooked, it was done on the cheap as all governments took advantage of religious orders providing education in Ireland, particularly in the initial decades of the state. It actually facilitated social mobility for numerous former pupils. I wouldn’t have gotten a 2nd level education if it wasn’t for the CBS, or as a brother in cahoots with my mother cajoled me into doing honours maths! and I wouldn’t have gone to university …
    I never looked at it from the point of view of the brothers and religious being cheap labour for the dept of education, and it is an astute observation by the author! and one overlooked!

    It is sad to see organisations even the GAA clubs in some cases trying to avoid recognising that their club was founded by a brother or priest or the local CBS school, and often used their land, trying to airbrush their contribution out of their history. The GAA and Gaelic Culture owe so much to the Christian brothers.

    While acknowledging horrors committed by some in the organisation and the organisation’s failings in dealing with them at the time. We should also remember the good that so many hundreds maybe thousands gave, spending their lives educating the country, for little reward, and not if remembering them just depict them with contempt (even hatred) as many lazy and unthinking commentators, in modern Ireland do.

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