CHRISTIAN BROTHERS MOUNT ISA
42 YEARS OF HISTORY 1959 – 2000.
September 1959.His Lordship, Bishop H. E. Ryan, officially blessed and opened a new school and residence in Mount Isa. It was St. Kieran’s Christian Brothers College. St. Kieran of Ossary was chosen as the patron of the college. At one stage of his life St. Kieran was the abbot of a monastery in Wales and after his death he was regarded by the inhabitants of the Welsh tin mining district as their special patron. His association with mining then led to his selection as patron in Mount Isa.
On 25th January 1960 the school opened with a roll of 132 boys, with the classes from Grade Four to Grade Seven. Br. Tom Higgins was the foundation Principal (1960-1962). In 1961 a science room was built under the main building and the school kept on expanding rapidly.
The first concert and speech night was held at St. Joseph’s Hall in 1962 and attracted a large turn-out of parents and friends.
Brother Tracey, the second Principal (1963-1968), formed the first Parents and Friends Association. He was actually a local from Mount Isa. The first meeting of the P & F was held on 16 June 1964 with Mr. Bob Davidson as the first President.
As the years went by enrolment figures continued to rise and in 1967 the roll exceeded 300. The classes by this time ranged from Grade Four to Grade Ten and the staff comprised five Brothers and two lay teachers.
In 1967 extensions were added to the Brothers’ monastery and two new classrooms as well as an office, storeroom and a staffroom were added to the school. In 1968 the school was fully air-conditioned with much hard work and generosity.
Brother Rochford was the third Principal (1969-1974), a man of strict discipline and great fairness. The building of the swimming pool was his greatest achievement and he was a very proud man on the night it was opened, 19th April 1974. The debt for the pool was completely paid off by October of the same year and this was achieved with the help of the Parents and Friends and by the efforts of the boys who each brought 10 cents a week for as long as it was needed.
1973 was a Jubilee Year for Mount Isa Mines and St. Kieran’s joined with the other Catholic schools to put on a pageant called “Mount Isa - the Old and the New”. Every boy in the school took part and the pageant was generally voted a spectacular success. The handball court was built in 1973.
The school continued to grow and it reached the stage where classroom space began to be short, so in 1970 it was decided to let the Grade Four boys stay at St. Joseph’s and St. Kieran’s would only begin at Grade Five.
In 1974 a new classroom block, comprising four classrooms, was built with government aid and two streams began with two Grade Five classes.
Brother Feeney (the fourth Principal (1975-1980) came to the school from Gregory Terrace, Brisbane. He was young, enthusiastic and full of ideas. Lots of undercroft, bitumen and cement appeared and two new classrooms and a well-equipped library were built. Audiovisual equipment was added and the old classrooms were renovated and a new staff room and study area were added.
The Brothers of the early years are remembered as some of them spent many years in Mount Isa. Principals were Brother T. Higgins 1960-1962, Brother K. Tracey 1963-1968, Brother G. Rochford 1969-1974, Brother N. Feeney 1975-1980, Brother P. O’Doherty 1981-1983 and Brother J. Edwards 1984-1986.
Brothers B. Robertson, B. Warner and D. Baldwin spent many years at St. Kieran’s and did a tremendous job teaching double classes as well as taking an active part in sports and after school activities. Forty-four Brothers have served in Mount Isa, involved in education at St. Kieran’s Christian Brothers College to 1984.
Sport played a large part of the activities carried out at the school. With a first class oval, cricket was a popular sport, as was swimming, handball, and tennis. The school entered inter-school swimming and athletics carnivals. The primary section combined with girls from St. Joseph’s and Good Shepherd. The secondary combined with San Jose girls to form the Combined Catholic Schools team. A very popular event was organised by the P. & F. in 1977 called the “Moondarra Marathon”, which was a 20 km walk from the school to Warrina Park out at Lake Moondarra. This walkathon raised funds used for projects at the school. This was a very popular event for the students and continued each year, even into the Mount Isa Catholic High School era, with the girls joining in the walk.
1985 will long be remembered as the year of rationalisation. This project meant the re-organisation of every Parish facility in Mount Isa. In 1976 there had been a reorganisation of the schools, but this was only temporary as each primary boy had to attend three different schools and each primary girl had to attend two. In 1985 the primary/secondary boys’ college, St. Kieran’s, was converted into a secondary co-educational school for Years 8-10, including San Jose Secondary School girls, and renamed Mount Isa Catholic High School. The Good Shepherd Church and the Brothers’ residence on the site were converted to school facilities. The priests' residence in Simpson Street became the residence for the Brothers after a new presbytery was built on the Good Shepherd school site. The Good Shepherd school buildings were converted to become the Good Shepherd Parish Centre.
After an expenditure of over $2 million, the official opening and blessing of the three schools took place on the same day – 17th March 1985. This became known as the educational hat trick performed by Bishop Raymond Benjamin.
The Brothers were still involved in Mount Isa Catholic High School and St. Joseph’s Primary School. Brother John Edwards was the first Principal of the new school, Mount Isa Catholic High School, with Sr. Vicki Ward (former Principal of San Jose) as the Deputy Principal. Later principals were Brother P. McGuran 1987-88, Brother Brian Cumming 1989-91 and Brother Bill Tynan 1992-99. Brothers M. McHugh, J. Vella, S. Brown, L. Walker, P. Fagg, T. Bourke and M. Talty have served since 1985. Br M. Talty was the last Christian Brother to serve on the staff of Mount Isa Catholic High School, and Br. L Walker continued to serve on the staff at the new St. Kieran’s Primary School.SS