In 1808, Edmund Rice, took religious vows under the authority of Bishop Power of Waterford with seven others. Following the example of Nano Nagle's Presentation Sisters, they were called Presentation Brothers. This was the first congregation of men to be founded in Ireland and one of the few ever founded by a layman. Gradually a transformation had taken place amongst the "quay kids" of Waterford, largely attributed to the work of Edmund and his Brothers, who educated, clothed and fed the boys. Other bishops in Ireland supplied Edmund Rice with men, and these he prepared for the religious life and for a life of teaching. In this way the Presentation Brothers spread throughout Ireland.
However, the communities were under the control of the bishop in each diocese rather than Edmund Rice, and this created problems when Brothers were needed to be transferred from one school to another. Rice sought approval from Pope Pius VII for the community to be made into a pontifical congregation with a Superior General. Ultimately he obtained this, and as Superior General he was then able to move brothers across diocesan boundaries to wherever they were most needed. In the 1820s further difficulties emerged owing to the expansion of the society and its becoming two distinct congregations. From this time on they were called Christian Brothers and the Presentation Brothers. The motto of the Christian Brothers was: 'The Lord has given, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord forever' (Job 1: 21).
In 1828, the North Richmond Street house and schools in Dublin were established by Rice, the foundation stone being laid by the politician Daniel O'Connell. The building housed the Brothers' headquarters for many years and the present residence incorporates the original house built by Rice, who lived here for several years beginning in 1831.
The Christian Brothers went on to set up many schools at home and abroad. There is a large number of Christian Brothers schools in Ireland and these schools helped to educate our nation at times when there was very few schools.