He was born Andrew Kerins in Ballymote Co, Sligo on May 18, 1840, and ventured on the divine path by taking up the oath of the Marist Brotherhood. As thousands of Irish took flight from the deprivation in their homeland by sailing to Glasgow, Brother Walfrid was assigned to Sacred Heart School in the city’s East End to cater for their spiritual and educational needs.
The immigrants from Ireland soon realised that the streets of Glasgow were not paved with gold and Walfrid, took it upon himself to help those in need. He had two main aims; feeding the newcomers who were finding employment difficult to attain and integrating them into the mainstream of Scottish life.
He aimed to significantly change the lives and wellbeing of local people in Glasgow’s East End. Those people in the community suffered hardship on many fronts but particularly they lacked the opportunity to work, to feed themselves and their children properly, to be treated as equals in society, to live fulfilling and healthy lives and to become the best people that they could be.
Feeding the poor was a problem with a relatively straightforward answer – a charity drive. His idea to raise money was to enter the embryonic world of football by forming a Club that would attract paying customers and on November 6, 1887, Brother Walfrid, along with the Club’s other Founding Fathers, formally constituted Celtic Football Club at St Mary´s Church Hall in Abercromby Street.
Brother Walfrid wanted the Club name to be meaningful to both Scots and Irish, hence the name Celtic, emphasising a bridge of cultures across the Irish Sea. It was intrinsic to the values and aims of the Club in establishing an unquantifiable link between the indigenous Scots and the newcomers whose descendants would be born Scottish.
Although formed to raise money for the needy of the East End who were predominantly Catholic and Irish, the new Club would be one held no barriers to those in need. Since then, the Club has always opened its doors to one and all no matter the faith or colour, creed or race. That has always been the case since its foundation and that will always continue to be the case. One man’s vision lives on in the hearts of Celtic supporters of all kinds, from every corner of the globe.
Today, charity is fundamental to Celtic’s identity, and Celtic FC Foundation exists to honour the legacy of our founding father, Brother Walfrid. We aim to address root causes of poverty by equipping individuals with the tools and means to reverse inequality.