Brother Walfrid - founder of Celtic FC

The Brother Walfrid memorial in BallymoteBrother Walfrid (18 May 1840 - 17 April 1915) is the religious name of Andrew Kerins, an Irish Marist Brother and founder of Celtic Football Club.

Brother Walfrid was born of John Kerins and Elizabeth Flynn in Ballymote, in County Sligo. He studied teaching and in 1864 joined The Marist Brothers Teaching Order. He moved to Scotland in the 1870's and taught at St. Marys School and the Sacred Heart School where he was appointed headmaster in 1874. He also helped found Saint Joseph's College, in Dumfries, Scotland.

In 1888, he founded The Celtic Football Club as a means of raising funds for the poor and deprived in the east end of Glasgow. In 1893 Walfrid was sent by his religious order to London's East End. Here he continued his work, organizing football matches for and showing great kindness to the barefoot children in the districts of Bethnal Green and Bow. The charity established by Walfrid was named The Poor Children's Dinner Table.

He died on 17 April 1915, leaving a surviving brother, Bernard, in Cloghboley, County Sligo. Walfrid is buried in the Mount Saint Michael Cemetery in Dumfries, Scotland.

There is a 3.2 metre high bronze sculpture of Brother Walfrid which was made by Kate Robinson stands on a carved granite pedestal outside Celtic Football Club in Glasgow. The statue cost £30,000 which was funded entirely by donations organised by the Brother Walfrid Committee, including £5,000 from then chairman of the club, Brian Quinn. The veil for the unveiling ceremony was made by workshops in fourteen schools and community centres throughout Glasgow. Funded by Sense Over Sectarianism, artists worked with young people to create images of footballers and football strips which were digitally printed onto the veil itself. The unveiling was performed by former assistant manager and player /sean-fallon.shtml">Sean Fallon, himself a native of Sligo. The ceremony was attended by the Archbishop of Glasgow, the Most Reverend Mario Conti who blessed the statue, several thousand fans and former Celtic and Rangers captains and managers Billy McNeil and John Greig.

New music for the ceremony called "Walfrid at the Gates of Paradise" was composed by relative James MacMillan. Archbishop Conti presented club officials with a Celtic Cross from the church where Celtic were established, Saint Mary's, Calton the second oldest church in the Archdiocese of Glasgow. After the ceremony, the Celtic Charity Fund presented a cheque of £5,000 for Saint Mary's, to help the restoration fund for the church and to recognise the important link between club and community.

A further sculpture, a bust of Brother Walfrid, commemorating his links with his home town of Ballymote, was unveiled in the public park there in 2005.

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This page was last updated on Thursday 5 May 2016.

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