The Redcastle Residence
Born on the island of Mull, Scotland in 1818, John McLean came to this country and farmed in the Waitaki Valley. Eventually, after a life of hard work, joined to activity in local and Otago provincial politics, John retired to his property near Oamaru, where the College now stands. He died there, still a bachelor, in 1902.
His heir and only nephew, John McLean Buckley, immediately set about building the red brick residence with Oamaru stone facing, now known as the 'Castle' and since he was very fond of horse-racing, 'The Stables'.
When John (Sen) died in 1915, and his eldest son John was not interested in keeping up the property, it went on the market and was bought by a syndicate of local people. Ten years later, the Christian Brothers bought the property and a Brother Prunster came from Australia and worked for two years adapting the buildings for a boarding school.
Founding the College
On February 6, 1927, St Kevin's College was opened as a Catholic boys' boarding and day school. Within three years the Magee Block was built and the number of boarders had risen to 116. Then the depression struck and the number went down to the eighties until the war brought an increase in numbers, and the post-war prosperity brought them up further, till in 1962 they passed the 300 mark.
Meanwhile, the new school block was opened in 1960, the Chapel and Hall in 1962 and the new dining room in 1968, each marking a notable improvement in the standard of buildings at the College. In the same way, the roads around the buildings were tar-sealed, instead of being covered with the local Ngapara gravel. Three boys' dormitories were built in 1976 and in 1991 and 1992, two more were constructed.
Integration and Coeducation
In February 1983 St Kevin’s became co-educational with the introduction of boarding and day female students. This step came at the same time as Integration into the state education system. Until 1979 girls boarded at Teschemakers, about 12 km south of Oamaru. When Teschemakers closed the St Thomas’s Hostel Trust was formed and it bought flats in Balmoral St. These were used for girls boarding until 1984 when the hostel moved onto the former junior college site.
More buildings, a new library, an administration block, a technical block, a gymnasium, art and music suites and a refurbished hall, bring us to the present day. In 1996 the College appointed its first lay Principal as Mr Justin Boyle succeeded Brother Joe Lauren who had been the thirteenth and longest-serving Rector. In 2002 the second lay principal, Mr Brent Russell was appointed. The Christian Brothers handed the school to lay management ending a 75-year presence at Redcastle. In 2009 Mr Paul Olsen was appointed as the third lay principal.
In 2019, after 92 years as Proprietors, the Christian Brothers transferred the College into the care of the local Dunedin Diocese. Bishop Dooley is the current Proprietor.