Conferring of DCU Honorary Doctorate On
Bro. Colm William O’Connell
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About Bro. O'Connell
Brother Colm William O’ Connell was born near Mallow, Co. Cork. He attended the Patrician Brothers Training School in Tullow, Co. Carlow and University College Galway. He went on to teach geography at the Patrician Brothers School, Newbridge, Co Kildare. In 1976 Bro. O’Connell travelled to Kenya, for what was to be a short stay, to teach geography in St Patricks High School, Iten, a small town, 2,400 metres above sea level, in Kenya’s Rift Valley.
Prior to his trip to Kenya Bro. O’Connell had only a passing interest in athletics. Thirty-six years later, however, he is still in Iten and is acknowledged as the world’s most successful coach of endurance running, having nurtured 5 Olympic gold medallists and 25 world champions, the latest being the 2012 800m Olympic champion and world-record holder, David Rudisha.
Bro. O’Connell was Headmaster of St Patrick’s High School, Iten, from 1986 to 1991. He was the first person to introduce the training camp concept to Kenya in 1986. Today, there are over 100 camps in Kenya where most of the elite athletes live and train. In 2003 he established an AIDS awareness program at Tambach Teacher’s College, 10 km away. Through instruction at Tambach, Bro. O’Connell educates Kenya’s future teachers on one of Kenya’s worst health problems, thereby giving them the knowledge and tools to teach Kenya’s youth about HIV/AIDS.
Bro. O’Connell has become an iconic figure not only in Kenya but around the globe. For more than 36 years he has contributed to Ireland’s missionary tradition in Africa. He is widely admired for his compassion, humility and loyalty and has touched the lives of many.