History and Tradition

History of St Virgil's College

At the invitation of the Archbishop of Hobart, St Virgil’s College was founded by the Christian Brothers in 1911 at Barrack Street as a boarding school for the boys of Tasmania and as a day school for Hobart boys.

The College, when founded, overlooked the centre of Hobart. It was formally opened on January 22 1911.

On January 28, 1911, the first boarder, Master Phillip O'Reilly, of Geeveston, arrived. He was greeted by the first day-boy, Master Leo Doyle, the father of the previous Archbishop of Hobart, the Most Reverend Adrian Doyle.

In 1962, a junior secondary campus was opened at Austins Ferry and with it the gradual transition of secondary classes from the Barrack Street campus.

In 1970, the boarding section of the College was closed, and since that time St Virgil’s has been a day school only.

In 1996, St Virgil's College and St Peter's School, amalgamated to be called St Virgil's College.

From 2024 St Virgil's College will offer specialist Catholic education for boys from Kindergarten to Year 12. This offering will expand in coming years with the delivery of Year 2 and Year 12 next year. 

The Junior School is located in Patrick Street, Hobart and is located on the former St Peter's School site in central Hobart, next to St Mary's Cathedral.  

The Senior School campus is located at the senior school campus at Austins Ferry, an expansive 70 acre property set on the banks of the majestic River Derwent. 


We strive to help students on their personal spiritual journey and to appreciate the significance of Jesus within their lives. Within the Catholic tradition we nurture the whole person in a Gospel inspired community.

Central to the College is a commitment to fostering and emphasising Gospel values and ideals, in the classroom, in relationships with others and in the day to day running of the College.St Virgil's College is proudly a Catholic school for boys int he tradition of Blessed Edmund Rice and prides itself upon providing boys with an holistic Catholic education that is engaging and relevant in a rapidly changing world.

The gift of faith is nurtured in each student through the Religious Education curriculum and in all dimensions of the St Virgil's experience.

Opportunities for prayer and Liturgical celebration give boys a chance to reflect on their faith and to express it in ways meaningful to them.

Edmund Rice

Edmund Ignatius Rice was born in Callan, Ireland, in 1762.

A man of great faith, Edmund felt called by God. He contributed generously to Catholic Charity schools and gave practical help to the poor by providing food, shelter and clothing but he wanted to do more.

In 1802 he founded the Congregation of the Christian Brothers, who have become responsible for the care and education of millions of children in their schools and other ministries. The Brothers seek to help in the struggle against poverty and injustice. All followers of Edmund Rice are committed to education to achieve freedom.

The extraordinary life of Edmund was recognised when on 6th October 1996, Edmund Ignatius Rice was proclaimed 'Blessed' by Pope John Paul II.

The Christian Brothers

The Christian Brothers, a congregation of religious men currently numbering around 1800, work in 26 countries, with headquarters in Rome.

In the early years the work of the Brothers spread rapidly throughout Ireland as they founded schools before moving to England, Gibraltar, Australia and India.

The Brothers established their first school in Australia, Parade College in Melbourne, in 1871.

The Brothers accepted an invitation from the Archbishop of Hobart to open a school in Hobart and in 1911 that school opened as St Virgil’s College.

In recent years the Christian Brothers in Australia have moved away from direct management of schools and have refocused on those at the margins of society. Ministries are in hospitals and prisons, homes for disadvantaged youth, refugee camps and programs for underprivileged children.

There is still, however, strong support for the Australian schools and a focus on establishing and supporting schools in less developed countries such as in Africa and the Philippines.

There are currently six Christian Brothers ministering in Tasmania and two are at St Virgil’s College.

Saint Virgil

Saint Virgil was born in Ireland about 700 A.D. He became well known in his early life for his exceptional ability as an astronomer and mathematician.

In 747 A.D. Virgil was appointed to the Abbey of St Peter of Salzburg, Bavaria and in 767 A.D. became Bishop.

He is the patron saint of the City of Salzburg, and the greatest figure in its early church history. He was canonised in 1233 by Pope Gregory IX.

Virgil was one of the first to argue that the world was round, which lead him into conflict with Boniface who regarded his thinking as heretical. Virgil was reported to the Pope who accepted his explanation.

The first boys' college in the farthest antipodes Tasmania, was therefore dedicated to this intrepid and zealous Bishop whose scientific learning was remarkable.

College Houses

Each student at St Virgil’s College belongs to one of four Houses. The House forms the basis for many competitions and other events in the College. Pastoral Care groupings are formed within each house.

Students from St Virgil’s Junior School remain in the same House they were in at the Junior School. Other boys who have or have had brothers at the College will become members of the same House as their brother. Other boys will be allocated to ensure even numbers.

Major House events include the Athletics, Cross Country and House Spirit Day. Ongoing competitions include singing and a range of lunchtime activities. There are four Houses, their colours and values are:


Loyalty to God, Generosity & Scholarship - Blue

Named after Leo Doyle, the first pupil of the College of 1911, who went on to be a fine scholar and lawyer

Leo Doyle was born in 1902 and lived across the road from what became St Virgil’s College. In 1911 he was literally the first pupil at the College by running over to the school in the early hours of the morning.

Leo, a brilliant student, earned a place at the University of Tasmania. On completion of his Law Degree, Leo was admitted to the Bar at the age of 21. Two years later he became a partner in the firm, Page, Hodgman, Seager and Doyle. Leo also lectured at the University and later became Dean of the Faculty of Law. He entered the Tasmanian Parliament in 1937 on a landslide vote.

The dominating influence in Leo’s life, though, was his unswerving loyalty to his religion.

With a tragic early death at the age of 38, Leo left behind a wife and three young children. One of those children, Adrian Doyle, who also attended St Virgil’s, is a past Archbishop of Hobart.


Commitment, Sportsmanship & Team Spirit - Green

Named after the Dwyer family who contributed immensely to the sporting history of the College

Dwyer House was named after the Dwyer family in gratitude to their contribution to Athletics at the College. Charles Dwyer, Licensee of the Ye Olde Commodore Hotel was an ardent supporter of the College over 30 years, missing only one sports meeting.

His son Philip started St Virgil’s in its second year in 1912 and graduated in 1919. He captained the Old Virgilians Association Football Team from the late 1920’s to the early 1930s. Philip also coached the College Athletics Team until the arrival of Brother Hessian in 1931.Philip’s brother, William John, nicknamed 'Kaiser Bill' was a day student of St Virgil’s in 1911. He died in the war in France in 1918, and was posthumously awarded a Military medal for Conspicuous Gallantry and Devotion to Duty


Leadership, Determination & School Spirit - Red 

Named after Brother James Hessian, a former Principal, teacher & sport master who spent over 21 years at the College

Brother James Mulcahy Hessian was born in Dunedin on July 30 1910. In 1924 he sailed to Sydney to join the Christian Brothers.

Brother Hessian spent twenty one years at St Virgil’s College. An excellent teacher, he was a perfectionist, and nothing less than a student’s best would suit him. As Headmaster he was kind, understanding and generous, and as a Sportsmaster he achieved outstanding success.

An excellent coach, his 1939 First XVIII kicked 66 goals, 33 behinds (429 points) against a school team which scored only one point! This remained an Australian record for more than twenty-five years.

Brother Hessian and Brother Joyce are widely recognised as the key figures in shaping the spirit of St Virgil’s College. There was an aura of confidence that emanated from Brother Hessian and became evident in everything he undertook. The spirit of Hessian House has always been based on the saying “Fight the good fight and never give up”.


Integrity, Justice & Fair Play - Yellow 

Named after Brother Edward Joyce, a teacher & Principal at the College who spent 45 years on the staff

Brother Edward Dominic Joyce was born in New Zealand, and spent 45 years at St Virgil’s College, from 1916 to 1961. He was instrumental in shaping the culture and spirit of this great school.

Brother Joyce was an extraordinary man with a mysterious magnetism. Although shy and retiring by nature, his impact on students was enormous. A scholarly Christian Brother, he excelled in Mathematics and Science. As a Headmaster, he was never far from his classroom, and his no-nonsense attitude won the immediate respect of his students.

Brother Joyce possessed boundless energy. He was gifted with exceptional sporting ability which he channeled into coaching in later years. Absolute honesty and fairness were the hallmarks of his coaching style.