Up until 1858, the Irish College was run by diocesan priests
sent over by the bishops of Ireland. In 1858, through an
agreement concluded between the Irish bishops and the
representatives of the Congregation of the Mission in Ireland
(Philip Dowley), administration of the College was entrusted
to an institute of missionary priests for the first time in its
history (have a look at the
complete digitized document). This decision was influenced
by the Congregation's excellent reputation.
Founded in 1625 by Vincent de Paul (1581-1660), the Congregation's mission was to preach the gospel to the most impoverished people living in the countryside. When the French Revolution began, the organisation comprised 150 establishments in France, including a large number of seminaries. As a result, during the period leading up to its nomination to the Irish College, the Congregation had already established strong links with Ireland, where it had been present since 1839. In 1838, they had been appointed to their first settlement in Ireland - the parish of Saint Peter's in Phibsboro in Dublin, with others following soon after in Cork and Armagh. In 1888, the Lazarists became involved with several education institutions, including St. Patrick's College in Maynooth, and All Hallows College in 1892.