The Late Brother Joseph Mcnally

The late Brother Joseph McNally (10 August 1923 – 27 August 2002), founder of LA- SALLE College of the Arts, was one of Singapore’s champions of the creative arts and arts education. Irish by birth, Singaporean by choice, Brother Joseph McNally left his adopted country a body of achievements that continues to inspire new generations of artists and educators of the arts.Brother Joseph McNally arrived in Singapore in 1946, as a teacher with the De La Salle Order of Brothers.
Brother Joseph McNally spent close to 40 years teaching at various schools affiliated to the De La Salle Order, including St Joseph’s Institution and St Patrick’s Secondary School. It was at St Patrick’s where he served as principal for seven years, until he retired in 1982.
Upon retirement, Brother Joseph McNally decided to realise his vision for arts education in Singapore. Brother Joseph McNally was buoyed by the belief that the arts are vital to a person’s spiritual life – and therefore, on a wider scale, to a nation, its people and society.
In 1984, Brother Joseph McNally set up LASALLE College of the Arts – initially called the St. Patrick’s Arts Centre – funding it mostly out of his own pocket. This went against the grain of Singapore society in the 1980s, a time when the arts were given low government priority, and the creative industry received little recognition.
LASALLE College of the Arts started as a small arts centre with 27 students. As an educator and an artist for most his life, Brother Joseph saw this as a place to nurture creative excellence.
During this time, Brother Joseph McNally also helped the Ministry of Education design the art syllabus and Art Elective Programme. In recognition of his invaluable contribution to the arts and education in Singapore, the government awarded him the Meritorious Service Medal in 1997.
That same year, Brother Joseph McNally stepped down as President of LASALLE, but remained a member of its Board of Directors until his death in 2002 during a visit to his hometown in Ballintubber, County Mayo, Ireland.
Always ready to embrace the rich diversity of humanity. Brother Joseph McNally was also known for his deep respect and tolerance of other faiths. Singapore’s multi-ethnic, multi-religious society appealed to him. Brother Joseph McNally played an active role in the Council of the Inter-Religious Organisation. It was therefore fitting that one of the eulogies at the memorial service was delivered by a Muslim.
In his posthumous tribute, then-Prime Minister of Singapore Goh Chok Tong commended Brother Joseph McNally’s “tenacious spirit”. Mr Goh also wrote: “He achieved seemingly impossible goals with passion, doggedness and tender care.” (The Straits Times, September 2002)

In 2004, our then-Minister of Foreign Affairs George Yeo led a 30-strong delegation to Brother Joseph McNally’s hometown. In a ceremony commemorating his contributions, one of Brother Joseph McNally’s own sculptures, Counsellor II, was erected on the grounds of the National Museum of Ireland – Country Life. It was a heartfelt “thank you” to Ireland for the “gift of Brother Joseph McNally”.

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• Altarpiece at St Hilda’s Singapore
• Altarpiece at St Joseph’s Training College, Penang Altarpiece at Sc Patrick’s Singapore Chapel
• Altarpiece at St Francis Xavier Church, Penang
• Steel Sculptures in St Michael’s Ipoh
• Organ Pipe Sculptures ac !he Victoria Concert Hall
• Stained glass windows in St John’s Chapel, K.L.
• Sculpture in Fatima Hospital, lpoh
• Sculpture at Toa Payoh Civic Centre
⁃ Church of Our Lady of Lourdes, Silibin, Ipoh
⁃ Convent Chapel Jurong
⁃ OLPS Siglap, Singapore
⁃ Little Sisters· Noviciate Chapel, Singapore
• Sculpture in Sneem Church, Ireland
• Sculpture in St John’s, Kuala Lumpur
• Sculpture design in St Joseph’s Institution, Singapore
• Sculpture in St Patrick’s Downpatrick, Ireland
• Fountain at LASALLE-SIA Singapore
• Sculpture in Singapore Embassy, Washington DC
• Sculpture in Lincoln Hall, New York
• Painting and Crib Figures for Cistercian College and Church, Roscrea. Ireland
• Sculpture in Mazenod College, Melbourne
• Easel paintings and small sculptures held in many private collections in Singapore, Malaysia, US, Bermuda and Ireland