Portlaoise C.B.S - A Brief History
The story begins on ‘Black 47’ with the arrival of Brother Vincent Culkin to Marybourough, as Portlaoise was then called. As famine ravaged the land a poverty was widespread, the Brothers set about uplifting a downtrodden and depressed people through education and gave them hope for a brighter future.
Portlaoise was the second establishment of the Christian Brothers outside Dublin. Like all such beginnings when the school opened on Tower Hill the first classrooms had the minimum of furniture but they were filled to capacity with boys anxious for knowledge. This early foundation was marked by a plague over which stood a statue of Our Lady Patroness of the schools.
A new school was built fronting Tower Hill in 1906 and opened on Jan. 7, 1907. Since then many pupils have passed through its doors and St. Mary’s C.B.S has established a high reputation academically and on the sports field. Some have achieved distinction, notably Colonel James Fitzmaurice who successfully co piloted the first East to West Atlantic crossing; Kevin and Thomas O’Higgins who became an eminent Statesmen; and Joseph Meehan one of the best known sportsmen at the beginning of the century to mention just a few.
Bunting and papal flags spanned the sheets of Portlaoise during the C.B.S centenary celebrations in 1947. Night Mass was celebrated by Fr.E.Matthew assisted by Father P.Grace, P.Maher and C. Gallagher, all past pupils of the schools.
In attendance was Most Rev. Dr. Keogh, Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin. In the afternoon the pupils paraded to O’ Moore Park led by the local Brass Band. An interesting programme of track and field events followed. The Town Commission at a special meeting tendered heaviest congratulations to the Superior and Community.
The next significant milestone was in 1997 when the Sesquicentennial was celebrated a committee representing the entire school community was formed chaired by Mr. Willie Quinlan to plan a calendar of events. A concert performed by the Army Band attracted a full house and was followed by a reception given by the Parent Council Social of St. Mary’s committee, Fr. Brendan Howard was chief celebrant at the special mass in the parish church to mark the event. The mass was followed by a reception given by the Parents Council Social Committee of St. Paul’s, primary school. Laois County Council and Town commission marked the event with a Civic Reception in Aras an Chontae on Friday 17 October 1997.