Coláiste Rís, formerly Dundalk CBS, opened its doors to students for the first time on the 10th of May 1869. The Christian Brothers were invited to set up the school by the Archbishop Kieran of Armagh because, in his own words, “they gave the best education that has been offered to the youth of Ireland”.
The founder of the school was Brother Yorke, an Englishman born in Manchester into a protestant family. When he died, in June 1907, the town of Dundalk closed down on the day of his passing and the street where the school stands was renamed to honour him and his great service to the education of young people in the area.
The first Maths teacher was John Philip Holland, famous now as the inventor of the submarine.
Within a year of the school opening there were 500 boys on rolls. This required some major extensions and the development of facilities has continued constantly in the years since then. A recent addition was a Technological Wing built with the generous assistance of Senator Edward Haughey, a past pupil.
In 1922, when the Irish Free State was established, the school enthusiastically adopted the ideals of the new state. Students began to study their subjects through Irish and in 1934 the school won Corn na Dála, the Dáil Cup, as the best in Ireland for the promotion of our culture.
Among other successes in recent years were Irish Senior Golf Champions in 1981, numerous national titles in Debating, 1916 Scholarships, Leinster Senior Football winners in 1985, Young Scientist of the Millennium Year, 2000.
In 1987, the first group of 11 girls were enrolled into the school. In the subsequent years their numbers have grown rapidly, to about one third of the student population.
In 1990 the Brothers left Dundalk after 121 years and handed over the school to the Armagh Diocese to be run by a Board of Management. The name was changed to Coláiste Rís.
The new millennium has seen the school adapt imaginatively to the rapid changes of multi-cultural Ireland. Though the ethos of the school is Christian, students of other religions are welcomed with respect and tolerance.
In 2019, having helped prepare many thousands of young people for the world in which we live, the school will celebrate, with a certain pride and satisfaction, 150 years of its existence.
Éamonn Ó hUallacháin
1969 – 2007