St Joseph’s College is a Voluntary Catholic Secondary School for boys which is under the trusteeship of the Diocese of Clonfert. The school is managed by a Board of Management which operates under the Articles of Management for Catholic Voluntary Secondary Schools. The membership is listed each year in the Information Booklet. The Board of Management consists of representatives of the trustees, teachers and parents. The College is staffed by priests of the diocese and lay teachers. It was founded as a seminary in 1892 to help educate priests for the diocese. From the beginning it also provided general secondary education for boarders and day pupils. In recent years day-pupils are in the majority.
In even the briefest note on the college, two families must be mentioned. The first is the Madden family. Mgr. James Madden was, with Bishop Healy of Clonfert, founder of St. Joseph's College. He established it at Cartron and provided funds to get it started. Due to expansion the college was changed to Esker, Athenry in 1894, to the Pines, Creagh in 1901 and to Garbally in 1923. In the 1940's '50's and '60's two other members of the same Madden family, the brothers Fr. John Madden of Killimor and Dr. George Madden of London bestowed many gifts on Garbally. The present Science halls and Study hall are one such example of their generosity. The new extension involving extra class rooms and dining hall was made possible as a result of a bequest by Dr. Madden.
The other family whose history is entwined with ours is the Clancarty or 'la Poer Trench' family. The Trench family came to Ireland in the 1690's and settled in Garbally. In 1732 one member of the family married a girl called Power or 'la Poer' and added her name to his own to form a new name. The Powers were connected to the McCarthys of Munster and when a later member of the family became an Earl following the Act of Union, he took the title Earl of Clancarty.
It was Richard, the 2nd Earl who had the present house built in 1819. At the same time the grounds were fully landscaped. Further additions were made in 1855. In the early years of this century the family fortunes declined and in 1922 Garbally was sold to the diocese of Clonfert as the new home of St. Joseph's College. The price was £6,750.
A Living Tradition
Thus the style and good taste of the Clancartys and the generosity of the Maddens, combined to give us the present college with its beautiful main building and its spacious grounds. For over 70 years we have benefited from the tradition of the past and have made our own contributions to these traditions. Priests, lay teachers and students have together developed a first class secondary school and the name Garbally is much respected throughout the country. You are now part of these different bits of history. We hope that you will add to the good name of Garbally over the years.