(Taken from the publication “From Mount St Columba to Kevlin Road”, published to mark 150 years of Education in the Edmund Rice tradition in Omagh)

History at a glance from 1860

1860:    Rev. Brother Hoare (Second Assistant to the Brother Superior) visited Omagh to see what progress was being made (in setting up the school) and agreed the following with Father Manasses O’Kane and the trustees.
1. That not less than three Brothers be sent to form an establishment in Omagh, viz. two School Brothers and one lay-Brother.
2. That the Brothers are to have the control and internal management of the schools in order to carry out their own system in accordance with their rules.
3. That the education be gratuitous and the admission free.
4. That the weekly penny payable by such as can afford it, be applied by the Brothers at their discretion for the benefit of the children solely: as in supplying requisites, repairing or improving the school premises, etc.

1861:    The School opened its doors for the first time on 14 January 1861. One hundred and twenty boys presented themselves. Their ages ranged from 5 to 12 years, with one exception, a Michael McCaffrey of Castle Street, aged 15 years. Of the 121 pupils, 22 were judged fit to start ‘at second book’. All others were illiterate.
A direct rail link from Dungannon to Omagh was opened, an important transport link for boys attending the school from Beragh, Sixmilecross and Carrickmore.

1863:   Brother Fitzsimmons becomes Headmaster. The Bishop of Derry, Bishop Kelly administered Confirmation to three hundred adults and children in the open air of the top terrace in front of the New School.

1878:   Intermediate Education Act introduced an annual examination with published results. By 1892 the school has achieved 7 exhibitions. 14 prizes and 121 passes.

1890:   New Bishop of Derry is John Keys O’Doherty. Fr. James McGrade, Curate in Drumragh and past pupil of CBS Omagh, sets out on a five year, 30,000 miles, tour of America to raise funds to build the Sacred Heart Church.

1892:   School attendance is made compulsory by law.

1902:   The first motor car in Omagh was the cause of great excitement.
Brother Franklin (Headmaster) and Fr McNamee (Parish Priest of Drumragh) decide that the Brothers’ school is too small. At a cost of £1,200 considerable additions were made. A £8oo loan was guaranteed by past pupils. The additions included a room for Practical and Experimental Science and another for Manual Instruction. While renovations were in progress the school was located in the old Church in Brook Street.

1919:   P.A. Mullan becomes the first past pupil to join the Christian Brother Congregation. Many past pupils had been ordained to the priesthood by this date.

1921:    School playground extended into parish ground.

1923:   The school received a letter from Maguire and Herbert, Solicitors, Enniskillen informing them of the legacyof Miss Ellen O’Donnell. Br. Keane returns to the role of Headmaster.

1924:   Last year of the Intermediate Examinations. all senior candidates passed that year, more than half with honours.

1925:   The Daniel an Ellen O’Donnell Intermediate Scholarships established. O’Donnell bequest winners – Gerald Murnaghan and Joseph Quinn.
Br Keane purchased ground on the Mountjoy Road for use as a playing field – the Brothers’ Playing Field is born.

(To be continued)