‘The Jes’ in the news again
A summary version of Paddy Lydon’s essay on the history of the Jesuits in Galway, first published in the book The Jes 150 Years featured in Galway Advertiser on Thursday 4 May, 2023 »
Paddy Lydon is a former principal of the Coláiste Iognáid, locally known as ‘the Jes’. The school, and the adjacent all-Irish primary school Scoil Iognáid is situated on Sea Rd Galway, beside the Church of St Ignatius and the Galway Jesuit Community.
The article covers the arrival of the first Jesuits in Galway, (there is historical evidence to show that the Jesuits were already in the city in the early 1600s), the setting up of the Jesuit schools, and their history up to the present day.
The Jesuits did not always have an easy passage setting up their education ministry for the locals. They established their first college in the city in 1645 but had to leave because of the Cromwellian invasion of Ireland. They returned only to have to leave again when forced out of the city by the army of King William. They returned again but a lack of Jesuit vocations cause them to close their Galway residence in 1768. Undeterred they came back again, and in 1860 they opened a college in Eyre Square.
On the Feast of St Ignatius, July 31, 1863, the Bishop of Galway, Dr McEvilly officially opened and dedicated the church, the residence, and the college. The school did have a closure period of three years in 1926 due to a lack of numbers but opened again on the foot of local pressure and is there to this day. It went through a few iterations from all boys and feepaying to non-fee paying and co-ed ( a first for Galway.) The bunscoil joined the State primary system and it became an all-Irish State primary school known as Scoil Iognáid in 1971.
You can read the full article by clicking on the link above. The Jes 150 years was edited by former college pupil Tom Kenny and published in 2014.
As the Advertiser notes, the photograph is probably the first ever taken of the church and the school, dating from around 1865. The sea wall in the foreground was to prevent flooding of the buildings.