ON THIS DAY: 6th July 1906: ST. EUNAN’S COLLEGE OPENS
110 years ago today, St. Eunan’s College was officially opened as part of the Aonach an Dún Fair.
By the end of the nineteenth century, the Old Seminary building (next to the Literary Institute) was in much need of repair. Following the completion of the Cathedral in 1901, one former pupil of the school, Bishop Patrick O’Donnell, turned his attention towards this need with the aim to complete:
“the erection of an institution, at once reminiscent in its architecture of the most famous Irish ecclesiastical edifices of bygone days, and inferior to no existing college, either in interior equipment, or in the outdoor appurtenances of an up-to-date teaching establishment”.
Purchasing the site from Mr. Andrew McDaid, the foundation stone for the new school was laid on 23rd September 1904, symbolically marking the Feast of St. Eunan. Thomas Francis McNamara, the architect who had taken over the building of the Cathedral from William Hague in 1899, designed this new school. The cost for its construction was approximately £22,000 and it was built with great speed and efficiency, being opened 21 months after the laying of the foundation stone.
The College was formally opened on July 6th 1906 as part of the Aonach an Dún, a fund-raising fair similar to the Aonach Tír Chonaill that had raised money for the Cathedral eight years previously. Stone from the immediate area surrounding the college had been excavated for use in the construction and not all of it had been cleared by the time of its opening. 72 students were enrolled for the September 1st opening of the school.
The former principal of the Old Seminary, Fr. Edward Maguire, returned to the town to become the College’s first President while staff at the time included Fr. Patrick O’Doherty, Fr. Michael Ward, Fr. Patrick D. McCaul, Mr. John Magner, Mr. James P. Craig and Mr. Denis Murray. In 1910 Dr. Maguire left Letterkenny to become Parish Priest to Fanad and Fr. Michael Ward succeeded him as President.