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The average per capita income in Kitui is less than €2 per day


St Michael's School Building Project

We aimed to give the Diocese of Kitui a high quality facility which would set a standard of excellence in primary education, and encourage other educational institutions in Kitui to raise their standards. Led by Aidan Corless, this project aims to raise an overall total of approximately €550,000 to build and equip a 480-student co-educational boarding school for the Diocese of Kitui.

St Michaels School

The school is dedicated to the memory of Fr. Joe Corless C.S.Sp, late of Blackrock College, Dublin

Fr Joseph Nicholas Corless,  1910-1990
Born 16 May 1910 in Kinvara, Co. Galway, Joe did his secondary studies at St Mary's College, Galway, and at Blackrock College,1926-30. Having received special tuition in music from his earliest days, he featured prominently in school musical productions. His life-long involvement with ‘Gilbert and Sullivan’ productions may have stemmed from the influence of his novice master, Fr Hugh Evans, who had been the first to put one of these operettas on the school stage while in Rockwell in 1898. Professed in 1931 at Kimmage, Joe did Philosophy in the Castle, Blackrock,1931-33, and prefected at Blackrock,1933-35. In 1934 he was musical director for the first production since 1896 of a Gilbert and Sullivan operetta at Blackrock, HMS Pinafore. Ordained in 1938 he was appointed the following year to Blackrock where he was to spend the rest of his long and packed life leaving the college very much in his debt because of his work, his ideals and his example. He was appointed musical director, a post he was to fill with distinction in the church, the music hall etc. right up till his death. He taught mainly Greek while also attending UCD for a degree in Music and for the H.Dip.Ed. In 1942 he was appointed Dean of the boarding school (Dean of discipline). He worked on a new edition of the Holy Ghost Hymnal and produced a special accompaniment for this hymnal. He also re-edited the Holy Ghost Manual. Both these works had been originally issued by his director in Kimmage, Fr John Kearney, while he was a member of the staff at Blackrock. During his years as Dean of discipline, 1942-45, and, 1953-56, he took an active part in coaching the athletics team and organising the college Sports. In 1956 he was called on to take charge of the academic work in the school, a function hitherto known in the Congregation as Dean of Studies, but henceforth in the revamped organisation known as Principal.

This post he filled till 1980, presiding over many developments in the school, some brought about by changes in the educational system throughout the country but many stemming from his own initiatives to make Blackrock a better school. While new buildings and restructuring of the old plant were in progress he made a major input into the design. He took active interest in the revamping of the chapel in the run up to the Centenary in 1960, in particular with regard to the installation of a new organ. 

The new Library followed and he was deeply involved in this project from its inception to the restocking with up to date reading materials. His activities were not limited to the school. He was Musical adviser to the Dublin Diocese and acted as examiner of Plain Chant. For years he acted as secretary to the Blackrock College Union where his influence was quite considerable as apart from secretarial work he attended all their functions at the college and in the provinces and though such social occasions, often dragging out into the early hours of the morning, were not his normal recreation, hispresence was always highly appreciated. Not only could he recall each alumnus but he could refer to some escapades or minor achievements that made it clear that he really knew his former students at a personal level. On retiring from the office of Principal he took on the duties of one of the posts he had created namely, Dean of 4th Year, 1980-82. When he felt his seemingly inexhaustible source of energy drying up somewhat he undertook instead the post of Counsellor for 3rd Year. He was always ready to undertake pastoral work outside the school. In 1962 he wrote to the Provincial offering his services for any of the more difficult missions where he might be considered of use. He did parish work in the USA during the summer and served as chaplain early each morning for a local community of Christian Brothers. 'He was a man of great integrity and personal authority, of calm dignity. A superb organiser, he sought the highest standards of excellence in whatever he did. Even though he had a very reserved exterior, the deeper Joe often broke through. He could joke with one of his worried visitors in his last days saying: "I feel much better than I look," and added, "It is like waiting for an interview and not being called yet." The comments heard after his funeral included: 'It is the end of an era'; 'A man who was very fair'; 'It is only now we realise how much he meant and what that stood for.' Quoting the sacred writer, a homilist used the words: 'Know ye not that there is a prince, a great man, fallen this day in Israel.' Fr Joseph Corless had his appointment with the Lord 25 September 1990 the Feast of St Finbarr. He was 80 years of age. He was buried in Dean’s Grange. 

Update from Aidan Corless November 2010

Hi Guys, 

Today I lodged €12,000  which we raised from our "Brudders" cycle from Galway to Westport to Clifden to Galway .

It was a very tough journey, particularly leaving Westport in the wind and rain and climbing the mountain all the way to Clifden. All the participants deserve a big THANK YOU as it was a challenge, even for the fit guys.

Our Cyclists were- Eamon Bradshaw, Tom Broderick, Proinsis Kitt, Terry Noone, Ray Noone, Gerry Brady, Noel Daly, Frank Fahey, Billy Ryan, Brenda Devenish, Anthony Ryan, Aidan Corless, Gerry Greene, Joe Carroll, Stan Mortimer, Jackie Kenny, Frank Taite, Olivia Broderick, and Deirdre Costelloe. Friends of Kitui received €12,000 for the St Michael's building fund. Foundation Nepal and Simon Community also received some funds

Thanks for your support!


Balcony at finishing stage


Update as of October 2010


Despite many setbacks and the poor economic climate in Ireland, we only have €40,000 left to raise.

Please help us finish this project, as we hope to open St Michaels in early 2011.

When finished 480 boarders will be accommodated, 240 boys and 240 girls.There are 5 separate buildings.

  • One main Classroom building

  • One dining hall with conference hall above

  • One kitchen

  • One girls dormitory

  • One boys dormitory 

St Michaels will be the Flagship school of the Diocese of Kitui.

On completion,  much needed space in the old school will be released to provide facilities for the visually impaired.



Classroom with ceilings and windows installed


Dining hall with Assembly Hall above


Boys' Hostel Block

August 5th 2008


Fr Charles Kitheka inspects progress, January 19th 2008

Click on any of these pictures to enlarge


Front Entrance of new school- November 16, 2007


Appeal by Fr. Paul Healy, Diocesan Administrator, Kitui Diocese, for school building fund.

Extract from the "Irish Times", August 28th 2006

Click on any of these pictures to enlarge


In the Interim Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper 2000–2003 prepared by the Government of Kenya (July 13, 2000), increasing primary school enrolment and completion, and enabling more poor children to attend secondary school are two of the top six most immediate priorities for Government action to improve the quality of life:

Kitui has 606 primary schools, scattered over an area of 20,500 sq.km.  There is a need to address accessibility and cultural issues to improve school enrolment and completion rates in the district.  

The primary school going population aged 6-13 years was 129,913 in 1999 representing 27% of the total population and comprised of 65,542 males and 64,371 females. The total is expected to rise to 158,359 by the year 2008. 

Although there were 53,383  children of secondary school age (14-17 years) in 1999, only 6,860 boys and 6,866 girls (about 25%) were actually enrolled in secondary schools. Thus, there is a very low transition from Primary to Secondary Schools. 

Empirical evidence shows that 13% of the urban poor have never attended school at all while the comparative rural figure is 29%. Of the poor, only 12% of those in rural areas have reached secondary education while for the urban poor the figure rises to 28%.

Education is not enough by itself to escape from poverty. Many well educated Kenyans remain poor on account of lack of access to opportunities. However without education, capacity for accessing opportunity is very much reduced.