Father O'Callaghan, CM, class '46
Where are they now
THE oldest Castleknock man living — one of her greatest benefactors — for fifty years attached to the College as student, scholastic, priest, professor, and finally, President. Such, in very broad outline, is the Very Reverend Father O'Callaghan's claim on Castleknock. Still in vigorous health, and taking a lively and interested concern in all that is done by his Alma Mater, as the guest of the evening at the dinner of the Past, in February, he himself told us his own story.
He came to Castleknock in 1836, the year following the opening of the College, having been previously with the " Vins " at the school on Usher's Quay — the nucleus of the present Castleknock. In the prize list of the year 1837, the name of Malachy O'Callaghan is prominent in many of the junior classes, and he was head-boy for years 1843-46. He recalled the "beginnings of Castleknock — different from the present day — when the scholars of a rival establishment at Blanchardstown, to use his own words, "came across the fields to the College, not in friendly spirit, not in literary encounter, but to fight physically against the newcomers."
He saw the College grow from a small two-storied house to the extensive and varied buildings of the present day. But this is not the spot to give details of such a life. When Father O'Callaghan was ordained he became professor, and many of his past students can still recall the charming time they had under him in class. His many stories are still fresh in their minds. One student was generally given the task of reminding the professor if ever he attempted to repeat a story — which task the said student faithfully neglected, with the result that the same story was a frequent visitor.
In 1872, Father O'Callaghan became President, and for thirteen years ruled the College, until, in 1885, he celebrated the Golden Jubilee of the foundation. This was probably the greatest event in the history of the College, and to Father O'Callaghan is due the honour of making it such a success. At it were the first Cardinal of Australia, and the then newly-consecrated Archbishop of Dublin, it being the latter's first public appearance outside his own Cathedral.
The same year Father O'Callaghan accompanied Cardinal Moran to Australia, established the Vincentians there, and in a few years returned and was appointed the Superior of Sunday's Well, in Cork. But his work was not ended. He set himself to decorate, complete, and consecrate his beautiful church, and last October saw his gigantic labour completely successful, and then he retired from the arduous work of the Superiorship to a well merited rest. But such a mind and such an active brain could not be idle, and he has still several projects on hands.
His name is one that will not easily be forgotten in Castleknock, but which many a past student will look back to in grateful and affectionate remembrance.