Every year around this time in September the European Day of Languages is celebrated. It is an ideal occasion to raise the awareness of modern languages and the department has organised many different activities for all age groups. There are treasure hunts and quizzes, bake-offs and songs, menus and videos all highlighting the wide cultural variety contained in languages. Douglas Boyd Crotty won the sixth form quiz, Ms Smith’s TY group won the fourth form prize and Edna Johnston won the first form treasure hunt.

We are delighted to annouce details of this year’s Junior Cultural Trip to London.  The trip will take place over the January Exodus (Friday Jan 27th to Monday 30th Jan) and is open to pupils in Forms II, III and IV, but is strictly limited to 45 places. Places will be allocated on a “first come, first served” basis and the closing date for applications is Tuesday October 11th 2016. The estimated cost of the trip is an all-inclusive €450, which includes:

  • Return flights from Dublin to London.
  • All bus, rail and underground transfers.
  • Three nights luxury hostel accommodation in Baden Powell House, South Kensington (adjacent to the Natural History Museum), with breakfast, packed lunch and evening meals.
  • Tickets to the Lion King on the West-End.
  • Ticket for Leicester Square cinema.
  • All entry fees & tours for museums and attractions including: The Science Museum, Natural History Museum, Imperial War Museum, National Gallery, Victoria & Albert Museum, British Museum, Tower of London, London Aquarium, Cabinet War Rooms & Churchill Museum.

There is a jam-packed itinerary for the pupils, catering for a wide array of interests, and is a great way to experience London and see all its major attractions and museums.

To secure a place for your son or daughter please complete the permission slip (on the right of the page) and return it (either in person or by emailing it to hjones@staff.stcolumbas.ie), with a copy of his or her passport, and a deposit of €250 (cheques made out to St. Columba’s College). Alternatively, the deposit can be lodged directly into the College bank account (details in the permission slip document attached). Please reference LONDON TOUR on any transfers.

If you require more information please do not hesitate to contact Mr. Jones or Mr. Finn. Again, please note the closing date for applications is Tuesday October 11th 2016 (immediately after the October Exodus weekend).

The school rugby season is under way with training taking place on Mondays, Thursdays, Saturdays and alternate Wednesdays. The first games of the season have also taken place, with some of our pupils experiencing their first taste of competitive rugby.

This year the Senior XV are being coached by Corry McCarthy and Andrew Mitchell, with the guidance of Graham Dean as the strength and conditioning coach. So far they have had two matches – a home friendly against St. Michael’s Senior 3rds and their first league game away to Sandford Park. St. Michael’s were a well-drilled and technically gifted side and they really attacked SCC out wide. However, St. Columba’s put in a spirited performance and perhaps the final score flattered the visitors slightly – 27-3 to St. Michael’s. The Seniors played their first league match on Wednesday last – away to Sandford Park – and it couldn’t have gone better. They defeated Sandford Park with the impressive score of 53-5 away from home.

St. Columba’s first try came from the first lineout of the match, with Max Hopkins touching down to make it 5-0. Callum Pery Knox Gore couldn’t convert on this occasion. Henry Carroll scored the second try in the left corner before Callum Pery Knox Gore trusted his own ability and dotted down under the posts for a fine individual try, which he converted to make it 17-0. There was still time for two further tries in the first half, with Douglas Boyd Crotty securing the four try bonus point with an excellent run and step to put SCC up 22-0. Esosa Eronmwon scored the fifth try with a strong angular run to score under the posts. Callum slotted the conversion and the half ended with SCC in a commanding 29-0.

The second half started in a similar manner to the first with Douglas Boyd Crotty scoring another excellent try in the corner. At this juncture, the coaches emptied the bench and allowed some of the newcomers to rugby to get their first taste of the sport. However, SCC never lost their shape and maintained their dominance in the match. Hopkins scored his second of the day to put St. Columba’s up 39-0 before Aifo Ebeleghe got in on the try scoring. Hopkins wrapped up his hat trick when he dived on a loose ball, with Ivan Moffitt slotting the conversion. Sandyford grabbed a late consolation try at the end but St. Columba’s ended with a 53-5 bonus point win. A good day at the office.

The JCT’s first match of the season was a tricky league match against Sandford, but at home. Things didn’t go well initially and some slopping defending allowed Sandford take a commanding 26-0 lead after 20 minutes. However, St. Columba’s showed great heart and clawed their way back into the game, dominating the second half. Thady McKeever got the first try, which he also converted, before Sam Lawrence grabbed a brace of tries. Sandyford lost their composure and discipline and the referee issued a number of yellow cards. SCC capitalised on their numerical advantage. Matthew Russell scored St. Columba’s fourth try, which McKeever converted, securing a bonus point 26-26 draw. A superb performance considering the poor start.

The other rugby teams have yet to play their first competitive matches but are being put through their paces in training by their coaches. The Ducks, our Form I boys, are showing some good potential while there is some good players in Transition Year who will use this year to improve their overall skills. In conclusion, we look forward to an exciting, fun, safe and competitive rugby season ahead and wish all our players and coaches the best of luck.

On Monday night St. Columba’s lost one of its own. Orla McCooey left in 2015, a young lady who had bravely battled her illness for many years and finally lost the battle. Or perhaps she won it because she died with great dignity, with her family around her, and she is remembered here with great affection. Orla’s family asked for her funeral to be held at St. Columba’s, because this school meant so much to her and all her family, so tomorrow we will welcome her family and friends to our beautiful chapel, which will not be big enough by any means. It will be full of Old Columbans, staff who knew Orla and many others who will be visiting the College for the first time.

I hope that these first-time visitors will realise what I have already recognised, that St. Columba’s is not just a school but a community and a family, just as much as a place of education. When one person suffers, all suffer, just as we rejoice in the successes of our pupils and staff. It speaks volumes about the school that the family want the College to host what will be a deeply moving and sad occasion. We will do our best but I cannot guarantee that we will control our emotions.

Also on Monday I heard from another battler, Archbishop Desmond Tutu. I have not met him but I had some dealings with in South Africa, as his mother was an old girl of the school which I was running. I had emailed him on behalf of St. Columba’s to wish all the best in his struggle with his recurring cancer and he replied with a message for St. Columba’s:

‘I want to wish you and all your school the very best for the future, to know that you and your staff are being given the opportunity mould the lives of your charges. We hope they will look back on their time at St Columba’s as having contributed to who they have become, eager to serve their fellow human beings to the best of their ability.’

I like his emphasis on service, because it matches my passion. We can turn out highly successful and impressive young people, but what good is that if they do not have a heart to serve their communities and our world? Tutu is not just a talker but a shining example, a lifelong fighter for justice and the upliftment of his people. Service in schools can be about projects and work in the community, but in a very busy place it is hard to add more to the programme. Instead service can be about a spirit that imbues all that takes place, be it in the classroom, the games field, the music school or the boarding house. It is a spirit that is always looking out for the needs of others and wanting others to succeed. It is a spirit that embraces the weak and the vulnerable and makes them feel that they belong just as much as the brightest and the fastest and the loudest.

From what I am seeing so far there is plenty of that spirit here and the ground is fertile for it to continue to grow.

Mark Boobbyer

Recently the Warden, Mr Boobbyer, received a start of term message from Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and anti-apartheid campaigner. It reads:

‘I want to wish you and all your school the very best for the future, to know that you and your staff are being given the opportunity to mould the lives of your charges. We hope that the pupils will look back on their time at St Columba’s as having contributed to who they have become, eager to serve their fellow human beings to the best of their ability.’

On Thursday 13th October the Walsh Memorial Concert will be held in the Chapel. This promises to be a lovely hour of music to recognise the contribution of the Reverend B.W.N. Walsh Memorial Fund which was set up in the name of our former Chaplain to upgrade the Chapel Organ. A plaque in memory of ‘Bert’ Walsh will be placed on the organ and unveiled at the concert.

All visitors from the Columban community and beyond it are welcome to join us in the College Chapel for the concert, which starts at 7.30pm. There is no charge for entry.

As well as soloists Colm Carey (organ) and Angela Hicks (soprano), the College Choir under the direction of Geraldine Malone-Brady will perform the choral works ‘Sheep May Safely Graze’ by J.S. Bach, Hewson’s ‘Let us Now Praise Famous Men’ and Mozart’s ‘Laudate Dominum’.

Our guest star, Colm Carey, enjoys a career as both concert organist and choral director, and is widely acknowledged as a characterful and inspiring performer.

Colm is one of a handful of distinctive concert organists who have set out to promote the instrument in a fresh way, widening its appeal through imaginative programming and stimulating outreach work. That he has emerged as a respected and acclaimed performer is testimony to his dedicated mission not only to champion the instrument’s remarkable breadth of repertoire but also to devise projects involving exciting performing and recording collaborations with other musicians.

Born in Dublin, Colm was a pupil at St Columba’s College, where he studied music and organ with David Milne before entering the Royal Academy of Music in London and subsequently the Conservatoire de Musique de Genève. Winning top performing awards with distinction at both institutions, his numerous appearances, both live and recorded, in the UK and Ireland, formed strong foundations for his subsequent solo performances in Europe, Australia, Canada and the USA.

As a recording artist, Colm has produced a number of solo and chamber CDs, and he was the featured organist on Paul McCartney’s classical album, Ecce Cor Meum, which premièred at the Albert Hall in London (available on DVD) and the Carnegie Hall in New York. His interpretation of Bach’s The Art of Fugue has been admired for its originality and scholarship.

From 2003 to 2016 Colm was Belfast City Organist. As well as giving many recitals on the Mulholland Grand Organ in the Ulster Hall, he performed many concerti – including Poulenc, Parker, Handel, Haydn, Rheinberger, Jongen, Leighton and Guilmant – with the Ulster Orchestra. Many of his performances from the Ulster Hall have been broadcast, and in 2005 he presented four programmes on the history of the organ for BBC radio. He has collaborated with many artists (especially brass players and singers) and organisations, and in June 2014 the international – Dublin based – PIPEWORKS Festival held the final of its competition in the Ulster Hall.

In addition to his freelance work, Colm is Master of Music of the Chapels Royal, HM Tower of London. Under his direction the choir provides music for the weekly services in the Chapels as well as for special events – including royal visits – in the two historic Chapels Royal. He has toured with the choir to South Africa, Italy and Ireland, and as well as releasing a CD of music inspired by the Psalms of David the choir has broadcast on several occasions, most notably to all the countries in the Commonwealth on Christmas Day 2011.

Colm’s interest in assuring programming that is imaginative and stimulating has led to the recent formation of the Odyssean Ensemble (which he directs) – a flexible group of musicians brought together by Colm to explore, through innovative projects and collaborations, the notion of music being a journey – a journey that challenges the listener and stimulates the mind, body and senses. Although still in its infancy, the group gave the opening concert of London’s Spitalfields Festival this summer to much acclaim.

Colm is delighted to be performing in the concert with the Choir of St Columba’s College, and his fiancée, Angela Hicks.
Follow Colm’s activities @colmcareymusic

Angela Hicks is a graduate of Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance which she attended with the assistance of scholarships from the Dame Susan Morden Trust and the Trinity Trust. She now enjoys a busy career as both a choral singer and soloist.

As a soloist, Angela is regularly invited to perform core oratorios with a variety of ensembles. She is also very active in chamber music, often performing cantatas and other smaller works accompanied by period instruments. She has also sung much contemporary repertoire and especially enjoys working directly with composers.

As a choral singer, Angela is a member of a number of leading UK groups including The Monteverdi Choir, Ex Cathedra and the choir of The Chapels Royal, HM Tower of London. She also sings, and plays celtic harp, with the leading medieval ensemble Joglaresa, directed by Belinda Sykes.

www.angelahickssoprano.com

An Taisce’s Clean Coasts Big Beach Clean weekend took place on the 16th, 17th and 18th of September.

Last year nearly 800,000 volunteers in 94 countries removed 8,164 tonnes of marine litter from the world’s oceans.For the second consecutive year pupils from our Transition Year took to the beach at Sandymount on Sunday afternoon to participate in this international event. Braving the elements and heavy downpour midway through the afternoon, the 5 teams managed to collect 12 bags of general waste and 10 bags of recycleable material – including dog leashes, rope, rat traps, clothing, rugs and the usual plastic, paper and aluminium cans.Topping the poll for marine litter on the strand was interestingly and quite unusually socks!

Each team documented all litter collected and will follow up this week by compiling information and sending it into An Taisce for analysis. The teams worked tirelessly all afternoon and were rewarded with a trip to McDonald’s en route back to the College.

Congratulations to our Transition Year pupils who received their Junior Certificate results last week. We had 42 candidates who sat 335 papers. 87% of all papers were taken at higher level.

The breakdown of grades is as follows:

Grade A (Higher) 22%

Grade A or B (Higher) 53%

Grade A B or C (Higher) 81%

On average  our pupils achieved an impressive double the percentage of Higher Level A grades as the National average.

The afternoon and evening of the results were spent as Causey Farm. The activities – bread-making, bog-jumping and céilí dancing- were hugely enjoyed by all.

The funeral of Old Columban Orla McCooey will take place in the College Chapel at 2pm on Saturday 24th September.
Those attending are advised that there is likely to be a large attendance, and space is limited, and they should arrive in the College well in advance. May Orla rest in peace.

The Guidance Counsellor, Mr Humphrey Jones, has been busy collating information on the destinations and future plans of our most recent Form VI leavers. After their record breaking Leaving Certificate points average of 473 – most likely amongst the top results in the country – the vast majority of the sixty one strong cohort are taking up university places in Ireland, the UK, Europe, the US and across the world.

As per usual, a large proportion of our pupils have decided to take time away from formal education, with 24% of them choosing to go on a structured gap year. A considerable amount of time has been spent planning their year travelling and volunteering, with a wide range of destinations on view – from Africa, Asia, Europe, the US, Australia & New Zealand. The vast majority have included some volunteering work amongst their plans while others plan on learning a new language. Many have deferred courses until next September while others will reapply in 2017 with their excellent results. Interestingly, last year 30% of our leavers went on structured gap years and all, bar one, have taken up university places this September – in Ireland, the UK, Europe and the US. (In total, 94% of our 2015 leavers are currently in third level education, not the 34% recently publish in the Sunday Times league tables. Unfortunately, these “league tables” don’t include UK, European or US universities in their deeply flawed statistics – popular and shrewd choices for Columbans.)

Of this year’s leavers, 20% will take up university places in Ireland. Trinity College Dublin remains the most popular university in Ireland but we will have pupils at UCD, UCC, NUI Galway, DCU, DIT and elsewhere in 2016. 31% of our pupils have chosen a UK university to study in this year, an increase on last year, with many pupils obtaining places in some of the best universities in the UK (e.g. Imperial College London, University College London, University of Bristol & Loughborough). Again we see an increase in the number of pupils applying and obtaining places in European universities – 15%. The Netherlands continues to prove a popular destination for our leavers with six pupils taking up positions there, including three at the University of Maastricht. Many Dutch universities are ranked higher than Irish universities and offer flexible yet challenging degree programmes through English. Interestingly, three of the six pupils travelling to the Netherlands are Irish. There are also former pupils going to Spanish, Swiss and German universities in 2016. Three of our most recent leavers (5%) begin university courses in the US, including one at the University of Michigan. Another former pupil, from the 2015 cohort, also begins a course in a US university. Another of our leavers begins an engineering degree at the University of Hong Kong. The remaining 2% are beginning structured apprenticeship programmes in Germany and will look to apply to university in 2017 or 2018.

We are immensely proud of the achievements of our 2016 leavers and we know they have bright futures ahead of them. They have chosen destinations, at university or otherwise, that will provide significant challenges but equally significant rewards. Many have taken the difficult decision to expand their horizons and travel outside of Ireland to pursue their third level education. While this might mean their successes are misrepresented on the “league tables”, they have chosen excellent degree programmes in some of the best and best renowned universities in the UK, Europe and further afield. Those who have chosen to spend some time travelling, volunteering and experiencing different cultures will enter third level next year as more rounded and mature learners, ready for the challenges that face them. We wish them well and expect to see them back in the College in the coming years or at Old Columban Society events.

The new Warden, Mr Boobbyer, will be blogging about his impressions of the College in future, and here are his first thoughts as term begins:

So, finally, 16 months after being appointed as Warden of St. Columba’s College, term has begun, the new pupils have arrived, and I have taken my place in the extraordinary study occupied by my predecessors. The packing boxes have been removed from our newly decorated house and my wife, Cathy, and I are starting to turn a house into a home. We are also thoroughly enjoying the chance to explore Dublin and walk up into the glorious hills that are directly behind the school.

New Wardens don’t arrive at St. Columba’s very often. I am only the fifth since 1949! My predecessor, Dr. Lindsay Haslett, was here for 15 years and he has left me a school that is full and one whose academic record is absolutely outstanding. Irish schools do not publish their Leaving Certificate results but if they did we would quite possibly be in first place, or, at the very least, the top few. It is a wonderfully solid foundation on which to build for the future and I consider myself very fortunate.

What are my initial thoughts? Well, I could go on at length, but my early impression is of a school which loves its tradition and yet which is offering an absolutely outstanding modern education…contrast, for example, our gowned pupils, attending daily worship in our beautiful chapel, with the new state of the art science block, whose classrooms would not look out of place on the Starship Enterprise. Both are relevant: the chapel speaks of the Christian values which are the bedrock of the school and which do not change, while the new labs speak of a world which is changing almost in front of our eyes. It is not an easy balance to strike but I have not felt any tension in the attempt to maintain that equilibrium.

In a similar way there is a balance to strike in being an Irish school and being an international one. We are totally Irish in character but we have plenty of students from Europe in particular. That is healthy in the Europe Community in which we, at least, still live and we gain enormous value from those who come here from abroad.

I spoke to the whole school yesterday about many things, two of which I want to highlight. Firstly the need to create leaders, young people who are prepared to stand up for their values and to stand apart from the crowd. Everyone wants to be a leader and all will be, in one form or another, and the best time to start taking those first steps in leadership is at school. And secondly I talked about the need to develop an attitude of service: service of others in our community, service of the community outside our gates and service of the wider world. Is it possible to be both inward looking and outward looking at the same time? I believe it is and, in fact, I believe it has to be.

I am enjoying myself so far, but the sun is still shining and the new Warden is still shiny and new. That will not always be the case! These are just some early thoughts and I will be blogging on a regular basis with more thoughts over the weeks and months ahead.

Mark Boobbyer

We look forward to welcoming pupils to the College for the start of the 2016-17 academic year.

Wednesday 7th September

12pm: Prefects meet Warden and Sub-Warden, Dining Room.

2.00-2.30pm: new pupils and their parents arrive, and go straight to Houses to leave luggage and meet House staff, followed by

Tea in the Dining Hall and Lower Argyle.

3.30pm: Warden addresses new pupils and their parents in the Big Schoolroom.

4pm: House meetings for new pupils and their parents (various locations).

5.30pm: Parents leave.

6pm: Supper for new pupils.

8.30pm: Returning pupils report to House.

Thursday 8th September

8.55am: First Chapel bell. Warden’s Assembly, followed by Chapel seating arrangements and then Chapel.

11.30am: Form administration classes, followed by lunch.

2pm: First classes (to 3.30pm).

3.35pm: Day pupils may leave.

Friday 9th September

Full school day.