Edmund Rice Heritage Centre Blessed Edmund Rice, founder of the Christian Brothers and Presentation Brothers, was born to Robert and Margaret Rice, prosperous tenant farmers, at Westcourt, Callan, Co. Kilkenny, on 1 June 1762.
He was the fourth of seven brothers, and had two stepsisters, Joan and Jane Murphy, from his mother’s first marriage. The Penal Laws against Catholics were still in force in Ireland.; Co. Kilkenny fared better than many places because of the tolerance of John Butler, the Protestant Duke of Ormonde who resided in Kilkenny Castle.
As a result, enterprising Catholics, such as Robert Rice, were enabled to rent farmland from tolerant Protestant landlords at reasonable rates. So Edmund was fortunate in a land where the majority of Catholics were “hewers of wood and drawers of water”.
The thatched house at "Westcourt", Callan, Co. Kilkenny in which Edmund was born on 1 June 1762, is almost 300 years old. The six roomed house consists of a kitchen, parlour, breakfast room and three bedrooms. Of particular interest is the bedroom in which Edmund Rice was born.
Also on the site is the Edmund Rice Memorial Chapel and a large visitors’ centre.
Access to cottage is via the office at the adjacent visitor centre.