Brother Peter Higgins – Athenry to Sydney

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Peter Higgins was born into a large farming family in Coshla, Athenry, Co. Galway.

He attended Carnmore National School before going to Mount St Joseph Training College, Tullow, Co. Carlow to prepare for a life as a Patrician Brother. After his Intermediate and Leaving Certificate he trained to be a teacher. After this he was told to have a three-week holiday and tell his family he was to depart for Australia.

On October 9th 1959 three young men arrived by plane from Ireland to begin their life as teachers here in Sydney. One of these men was Brother Peter Higgins, the others were Brother Charles Barry and Brendan McCann.

Peter says he has enjoyed his life of teaching. He began at Patrician Brothers Granville three days after arriving in Australia. He had a large class (75 young boys). Most of them had just arrived from Europe like himself so they had some fun trying to understand one another. He used to use a few pupils to repeat what he said then do what was to be done. He had a little trouble especially during spelling lessons. The roll call took some time to call with all these strange names (boys from Poland, Hungary, Italy, Malta and the Lebanon. No Kelly or Murphy that he was used to in lreland.

Peter tried to keep himself busy so he would not have time to be lonely. He coached swimming, cricket and athletics in summer and Rugby League in the winter. He had great successes in this area, winning many competitions, including State Champion in Rugby League in 1969. He was Sports Master in his Primary teaching days. He was Bursar for the School and Monastery during most of the first 25 years.

The schools in which Peter taught were:

Granville 1959 – 1965 and 1981 – 1985

Ryde 1966

Forrest Lodge 1967 Principal

Blacktown 1968 – 1972 and 1986 – 2003

Liverpool 1973 — 1981

He spent 22 years in Primary and 22 years in Secondary.

Many changes have taken place in Sydney, Australia since 1959. Back then there was no Opera House, tall buildings, supermarkets, computers, calculators, freeways, mobiles, biros, hydrofoils, dollars and cents, meters and centimetres and few TV’s. Trams were all the go in Sydney and very few cars. The population of Australia has doubled from 10 million to 20 million since October 1959.

Brother Peter has enjoyed his life as a brother in general, but as a teacher of boys in particular. During all these years Brother Peter has been involved in raising money for the Brothers’ Training College and also for various Irish Community needs. He now spends time collecting cans for recycling and the money goes to the missions in Pakistan.

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About this record

Written by To be confirmed!

Published here 31 Dec 2023 and originally published Cgristmas 2004

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