THE sky over Kilkenny City was ablaze with the famous CBS colours on Wednesday, as the primary school children released 250 balloons in unison to celebrate the 250th anniversary of the birth of Edmund Rice, who founded the CBS.
Each of the boys was given a maroon or yellow balloon, with ‘Happy 250th Birthday Edmund Rice’ written on it. They tied the balloons to the school’s railings at 11am.
Then at lunchchtime, the students untied their balloons. After a short prayer, the group went down to the back pitch, with a few balloons lost along the way.
Principal Dennis O’ Reilly counted down from ten, and with a shout of ‘Happy Birthday’, the 250 (biodegradable) balloons were released into the air. Each student then received a cupcake, from Maria’s Cakes.
Edmund Rice was born in 1762 to a farming family in Callan, Kilkenny. He attended the commercial academy in Kilkenny for about two years, having secretly received his elementary education at the local hedge school in Callan.
After the tragic death of his wife, he turned to his special vocation – providing education for the needy. Selling off his business assets, he established a primary school for a small number of impoverished boys, with the classrooms in a converted stable.
The next year, he set up a larger building in the city’s working-class district of Waterford City. He began an austere, almost monastic life living in the school, teaching the students in primitive conditions.
In 1996, Pope John Paul II beatified Edmund Rice, the founder of the Christian Brothers and the Presentation Brothers.