Brother Walfrid was the founder of Celtic Football Club in 1887 — and a £25,000 study has now been launched as part of a campaign to raise awareness of his life and works.
University of Glasgow alumnus Michael Connolly wrote a dissertation on the origins of Celtic FC for his history degree, and he said: “It was then I began to understand the importance of Brother Walfrid — not just to Celtic, but to the wider Irish immigrant population he sought to support by creating the football club in Glasgow.”
Hand picked to undertake the new academic research, he added: “I feel excited to be given the opportunity to return to study a subject I am so passionate about.”
Born as Andrew Kerins in Ballymote, a village in south County Sligo in north west Ireland, Walfrid studied teaching and in 1864 joined The Marist Brothers Teaching Order, moving to Scotland in the 1870s.
Walfrid taught taught at St Marys School and the Sacred Heart School where he was appointed headmaster in 1874. He also helped found St Joseph’s College in Dumfries, in 1875.
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.
And after continuing his work in London’s East End, he settled at the brothers’ retirement home at Mount St Michael’s in Dumfries, in the same grounds as St Joseph’s College which was run by the brothers.
He died on April 17 1915 and is buried in the Mount St Michael Cemetery.
The three to four year study will be fully-funded with a £25,000 grant by Glasgow-based arts group Nine Muses as part of a wider campaign, and Michael Connolly will be supervised by Dr Joe Bradley, a senior lecturer at University of Stirling.
Dr Bradley said: “This PhD, by research, will closely examine and investigate the ‘real’ Walfrid, and his meaning and legacy for the multi-generational Irish Catholic community in Scotland and beyond.”