The first new prospectus for some years has just come out. A beautiful production designed by Red Dog and with photography by Finn Richards, it can be requested from the College office by clicking here. It provides a thorough introduction to the school for any parent thinking of sending their son or daughter here, and is particularly strong visually. It includes 12 testimonials from Old Columbans who have been successful in a range of fields. Click here for a small selection of the photographs featured.

There is a tremendous variety of activities on show in our annual Arts Week, which this year runs from Monday 20th to the evening of Sunday 26th. See below for a day-by-day outline.

Monday 20th March

Look Up, Look Forward, Look Out with James Shone 8.30 am (pupils) and 7.00pm (for parents and friends) with James Shone. Venues: BSR in the morning and the Drawing Room in the evening

11.45am: Dancersize, Sports Hall, 11.45 am Form IV

1.20pm: everyone and anyone, including staff.

6.30pm  French Theatre for Schools, BSR, I/II/III.

 

Tuesday 21st March

10.30am : Instituto Cervantes trip for Form IV Spanish pupils.

3pm:  Primary Schools Choral Day concert, Chapel (P, I, II).

Emily Archer workshop, Art Centre, Second Form art pupils

6.30pm  (Drinks and Dinner);  8.oopm  Lecture (VI, V art pupils). Opening of Hector McDonnell exhibition, Whitehall & Lower Argyle.

7pm,  Flamenco Dance Workshop, BSR, Fourth Form.

 

Wednesday 22nd March

8.10am, Art and Social Conscience with Hector McDonnell, Chapel

Wednesday, Thursday, Friday: Second Form Actiontrack drama workshops, BSR, during class-time.

Morning: Art Workshop with Hector McDonnell for Form V and VI, Art Centre

Lunchtime:  Speaker’s Corner, Chapel Square

8pm, Guitar Recital with Shane Hennessey, Chapel

 

Thursday 23rd March

Morning: Poetry Slam with Jasper Bark (pictured) (different times for P, I/IV), Library. [CANCELLED]

Morning: Photographic Workshop with Erin Quinn, Art Centre

VI and V art pupils to exhibitions of Caravaggio at NGI and Lucien Freud at IMMA.

8pm, ‘William Trevor Remembered’, BSR, with Joseph O’Connor and Julian Girdham – talks and readings. Reception in Whitehall for visitors afterwards.

 

Friday 24th March

Morning: Poetry Slam with Jasper Bark (different times for P, I/IV), Library. [CANCELLED]

7pm, Poetry Slam Competition Final, BSR (P to IV) and performance by Jasper Bark [CANCELLED]

 

Saturday 25th March

8.15pm, Art Prizes Evening  with Mick O’ Dea, president of the Royal Hibernian Academy, BSR.

 

Sunday 26th March

8pm: Music Recitals and Music Prizes Evening, BSR, with adjudicator Margaret O’Sullivan Farrell.

Activities that will be running through the week

WE ARE UNIQUE – drop into the Science Lab and create your unique handprint for display.

Fifth and Sixth Form  art pupils will reconstruct a figurative painting of their choice from their course work which will be photographed and displayed during the week.

The Senior Rugby XV won the Leinster League Division 2A final on Wednesday, defeating Tullow Community School 28-10 at Old Belvedere. It was the first rugby trophy won by SCC since 2008. In a pulsating game of rugby, St. Columba’s withstood the early pressure and dominance from Tullow, to kick on in the second half and take the victory.

The opening ten minutes saw Tullow dominate possession and territory. St. Columba’s were defending well but eventually the pressure told and Tullow scored the opening try, which they duly converted  and they lead 0-7. The restarted afforded SCC the chance to take the ball out of their half. A well struck restart was won back by SCC and they started to string some phases together. The pressure led to a series of penalties being awarded to St. Columba’s, with Henry Carroll slotting his second chance to bring the score to 3-7.

Tullow came back at SCC but some great work by the forwards and excellent drift defence meant they couldn’t make any further inroads. St. Columba’s came back though and team captain Douglas Boyd Crotty bamboozled the Tullow defence to race from his own half and touch down for a try. Henry Carroll failed to land the difficult conversion but SCC led 8-7. It soon became 11-7 as Henry slotted over a good penalty after Tullow failed to roll away. However, just before half time, Tullow also scored a penalty after some more good pressure – they were playing really well but the final pass wasn’t clicking for them at times or the scrambling defence of SCC were closing them down. At half time it was on a knife edge at 11-10 – SCC with the slimmest of leads.

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There was a lot of nervousness amongst the huge Columban support – teachers, pupils, parents and past pupils – with many feeling Tullow had had the better chances and our boys were simply hanging on. But the more confident amongst the crowd expected a thrilling second 35 minutes from St. Columba’s – and so proved the case.

Another excellent (unconverted) individual try from Aifo Ebeleghe – who had a fantastic game overall – pushed St. Columba’s out to 16 – 10. A six point lead makes coaches very nervous – the crowd weren’t too comfortable either. It seemed that St. Columba’s were lucky to be ahead – their line-out was having a bad day and a number of scrums were turned over – but in truth their defence was putting enormous pressure on Tullow and they continued to make mistakes inside the SCC 22. St. Columba’s made no such mistakes when the opportunities presented themselves and when Douglas Boyd Crotty cleaned up some loose ball, offloaded excellently to Ivan Moffitt, they made great progress up the right hand side. Max Hopkins then carried strongly, aided by his team mates behind him, then Seán Cooper fed Hector Wright. He brushed off a few weak tackles and went over for another excellent try – the nervousness fizzled out and was replaced by belief. Another missed conversion left the gap at 11 points but Tullow were a little rattled now and St. Columba’s couldn’t do any wrong. (See Hector’s Try by clicking on the link on the top right)

Tullow were reduced to 14 men after a late hit on Seán Cooper at the ruck and then Douglas Boyd Crotty put the game beyond all doubt with another brilliant individual try. A fantastic step off his left foot created the space in midfield to race over and dot down under the posts. Callum Pery Knox Gore added the easy conversion and now the sizeable Columban support could rest easy – the score 28-10. In the semi final Tullow had to overcome a 17 deficient to reach the final but in this game they were scoreless in the second half – a true testament to the defensive efforts of St. Columba’s.

The final whistle blew and the Old Belevedere pitch was covered in a sea of green and white. Well done to all involved, including the coaching team of Mr. Andrew Mitchel (Head Coach), Mike Elliot Murray, Graham Dean (Strength & Conditioning) and Paul Cron (Head of Rugby).

 

 

Many congratulations to Ms Hennessy and her team of fourth formers on winning the regional CanSat competition in DIT Kevin St. yesterday. Those involved were James Park, William Zitzmann, Leonard Lopez ,Caroline Meincke, Harry Oke, Ted Johnson, Grigory Kryukov, Blas Calatayud, Teresa Clemente, Sinclair Jones , Alex Sigurvinsson, Jaime Segui, Marie Bleyl and Santiago Puelles. They have been working very hard over the past few months in preparation for the day.

Cansat in Europe is an initiative run by the European Space Agency (ESA). It is run across schools in Ireland and Europe and is aimed at second level pupils interested in space technology. Cansat is a simulation of a satellite, recording information integrated into a 330ml soft drinks can. The main challenge is to fit all the necessary electronic components – power system, sensors and radio communications needed in the can to record information and survive the conditions of a launch. The Cansat is then launched to an altitude of a few hundred metres by a rocket or dropped from a quadcopter, kite or balloon and its mission begins: to carry out a scientific experiment and land safely.

Their efforts were rewarded by winning the regional final and earning a place in the national finals which will be held in Cork on April 27th -28th .

 

Part of the project work involves education and outreach. To facilitate this the team have created a Website, blog, Facebook page and Twitter account (which was used on the day to chart progress in the competition).

You can follow their progress http://scc-cansat2017.weebly.com

The most distinguished Old Columban writer, William Trevor, died in November 2016, aged 88. The College will celebrate his achievements in an event during Arts Week which is open to all-comers. We are delighted that the novelist Joseph O’Connorwho is also the Frank McCourt Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Limerick, will read from and comment on Trevor’s work. There will also be a short talk by the Head of the English Department and Sub-Warden Julian Girdham on William Trevor’s connections with and writings about St Columba’s.

All are welcome to attend this event, in the Big Schoolroom on Thursday 23rd March at 8pm, and to join us for a glass of wine afterwards. There is no charge for entry.

I’m excited. On Saturday I am going to the Aviva Stadium to hopefully see England win the Grand Slam. Even though England have been playing very well and Ireland have been a little disappointing in this year’s six nations I think it will be very tight…Ireland would enjoy nothing better than spoiling the English party. On their day they can beat anyone, as they showed against the All Blacks last year. I am hoping that Saturday is not going to be their day!

I grew up with rugby and managed to play at university and club to quite a good level. My father played for England back in the 1950’s and a cousin of my mother’s played fourteen times for Scotland a little later. My father was a centre and won nine caps before giving it all up at the age of 24 to become a missionary. He was also playing first class cricket at the time so it was a big sacrifice, but of course in those days rugby was far from being a professional game. In 1952 the England v. Ireland game at Twickenham was postponed for the first time ever because of the death of King George VI. The day of the rearranged match was bitterly cold and no one would dream nowadays of playing a match in such blizzard conditions. Last year I found the Pathe News report on the match on YouTube and it is very funny to see the players skating around on an icy pitch. The commentary is priceless…if you listen carefully you will also hear that it was my father who scored the only try of the match, with England winning 3-0. In those days a try was worth three points.

I have been to quite a number of rugby internationals in my life, but the most unforgettable one for me was when I was in South Africa in 1994, working for the South African Cricket Board. Just after the first ever democratic elections in the country England were on tour and the first test was at Loftus Versfeld, the heartland of Afrikaans rugby in Pretoria. There was a mood of celebration with Nelson Mandela and FW De Klerk present and all that was needed was the inevitable Springbok victory to round off a perfect occasion. I went with a group of 12 South Africans and there was barely a single Englishman in the crowd. After 20 minutes when England were 20-0 up the stadium was in stunned silence and we went on to win 32-15. Afterwards I ran into Dr. Ali Bacher, the president of the SA Cricket Board, for whom I was working, walking wistfully back to his car. He said, ‘that was the wrong result…it wasn’t meant to be that way.’ This is the match that is played out at the beginning of the film ‘Invictus.’ I was there and I loved every moment of it. Of course history shows that South Africa turned it round within the next year or so and went on to win the World Cup in 1995. Who can forget Nelson Mandela wearing the Springbok jersey presented to him by Francois Pienaar in that iconic moment of national celebration and reconciliation?

Last year I was up in Belfast for a meeting at the Belfast Royal Academy. On the wall of the board room was a tribute to old boy Jack Kyle, a great hero over here and in 2002 voted Ireland’s finest ever player. He was a contemporary of my father and I have his autograph. But what intrigued me most about this remarkable man was that at his funeral, attended by all the great and good of the rugby world, his rugby career did not even get a mention. After he retired this humble doctor went off and spent the rest of his life working in Africa and tributes poured in regarding his humanitarian work. He could have lived in the limelight in Ireland, but he chose to go and serve the disadvantaged. I recommend you read the Irish Times obituary following his death in 2014. Now that is a real hero.

Mark Boobbyer, Warden.

Congratulations to the Senior First XV who have reached the Leinster League Division 2 Final. They defeated Drogheda Grammar in the semi-final yesterday, in appalling conditions, by a scoreline of 12-3. Early tries from Max Hopkins and Michael Kennedy, with a conversion from Henry Carroll, were enough to secure the final place – which will likely be played next week. Well done also to their Head Coach Mr Mitchel and his team.

Meanwhile, the Leps played a series of friendly games over the past two weeks. First up were near neighbours De la Salle Churchtown, who proved too strong and we lost 12-7 – our try coming from try machine Jose Fominaya and converted by Matthew Russell. They had better luck the following week again a St. Mary’s D side, winning with an impressive scoreline of 45-24.  Tries from Matthew Russell, Ollie Townsend, Thomas Somerville, Harry Petch, Mikhail Sukhachev, Jose Fominaya (yes, him again) and Matthew Keaveney (a try that will love long in the memory of those in attendance) secured a good win. Matthew Russell converted three, Fintan Walsh one and Jose even slotted a kick over (not bad for a hooker).

Congratulations to our Head of Irish, Dr Garry Bannister, on his latest excellent book, Proverbs in Irish, published by New Island Books.

An additional Columban connection is that pupil Tania Stokes has supplied the colour illustrations.

In the words of the publishers:

“Proverbs are like people – they can be humorous, sad, old, young, even have their own offspring. But they can also tell us a great deal about the time, the place and the culture that created them.

Proverbs are, however, much more than that. They are windows into our past, and a friendly nod from our ancestors. Sometimes they can remind us of our parents or grandparents as we once again hear their kindly voices speak to us in words of folk wisdom.

This book offers mainly Irish folk proverbs, but there is also a selection from Irish literature, the Bible, and other languages.

Garry Bannister travelled to Russia at the end of the 1970s, where he helped to establish the first Department of Modern Irish at Moscow State University. He has devoted many years to studying the writings of Tomás Ó Criomhthain, the literary works of Pádraic Ó Conaire, and the development of modern Irish literature in the first half of the twentieth century. Amongst his many publications he has to his name a number of popular dictionaries.”

 

People often remark to me that moving to Dublin from the far north of South Africa must be very strange. Until June last year I was running a school on the edge of the Kalahari Desert, just outside a ‘wild west’ town called Vryburg. The children at the school often came from abusive backgrounds, many from extreme poverty, many from totally dysfunctional families. The weather was 40 degrees in summer and the winter cold was biting, if brief. There was a huge drought when we were there, now broken by the fickle heavy rains, which are rarely in half measure. We had 1200 hectares of semi-desert farming land and a herd of cattle and no shortage of snakes, even if they were only seen on the odd occasion. Monkeys played in the vegetable garden and made sure that there was nothing left worth eating. On Saturdays the workers were often at funerals and I attended many in my time there or visited the homes of those bereaved who had connections with the school. Life is cheap. I was held hostage in my office for three hours, chased cattle rustlers through the veld with armed police, put out bush fires, witnessed staff brawling after a trip to Soccer City to watch the Chiefs v. the Pirates, the biggest game of the season…ok, so it was a bit different.

St. Columba’s is not like that. It is cold and windy and as green as you could imagine. The pupils here are – let’s be honest – relatively privileged and the facilities may not be perfect, but they are still wonderful by most standards. So you might have thought that there are really no similarities between this job and my previous employment or that nothing that I had experienced before would be transferable to where I am now.

That is not my experience. The environment may be totally different, but people are people and children are children. Parents in both schools want the best for their children; pupils all want to know that they are valued and safe; leavers are concerned about universities courses and what career paths to choose; staff want to feel supported by the man at the top and they genuinely care about the young people under their care. Human nature in Ireland is the same as that in South Africa…kids have the same capacity to come up with imaginative excuses whatever their economic background.
Perhaps one difference is the level of expectation. Here parents expect their children to work hard, get a good Leaving Certificate and go on to a good university. And that makes sense because the parents themselves did something similar and so did their grandparents and so on. But imagine that your parents never finished school and that no one in your family has ever been to university. Imagine that the height of ambition of those in your community is to wear a decent pair of trainers or to get a job as a security guard. Perhaps you aspire to more but you are told that no one from around that area has ever done that and to stop having unrealistic notions of what you can achieve. So you lower your expectations to fit in with those around you.

It is very hard for young people out there to achieve their dreams, but it is amazing when it happens and I have seen young people do astonishing things. I know a young lady who was an orphan from a poor community, who came to the school on a bursary. She got an opportunity to go on an exchange to the USA. Her host family were so impressed with her that they offered to pay for her whole tertiary education back in the States. She did her degree out there and then an MA at the London School of Economics. She is now back in South Africa and has set up a foundation to mentor young people, through a whole series of projects in remote rural areas. She is truly remarkable, but she does have detractors, people who think she has got above herself. It is not easy to aspire and to be different. People will always shoot you down.

Perhaps those experiences have given me a very high level of expectation of what the pupils of St. Columba’s can achieve, children who have been given every advantage and have had few battles to fight. It has certainly given me a lack of patience with those who waste their talents and opportunities. Happily I don’t think there are many of them here. This place is full of remarkable and talented pupils who are going to achieve great things. I make no apologies for setting the bar very high and I encourage all my staff to do the same. If we give your children a hard time it is not because we don’t love them. It is because we do.

Mark Boobbyer, Warden.

A soiree with Hector McDonnell, on Tuesday, 21st March, 6.30pm for drinks and dinner. 8.00pm lecture. 

(Tickets for the dinner and drinks are 15 euros each; please contact Cathy Boobbyer at cboobbyer@staff.stcolumbas.ie if interested).

This year as part of Arts Week we are fortunate to be holding an exhibition of one of Ireland’s most successful contemporary realist painters.

Hector is the younger son of the 13th Earl of Antrim and was brought up in Glenarm, Co Antrim.  In 1964 he left Ireland to study painting in Munich and then went to the Akademie die Bildende Kunste in Vienna for a year.  He then studied history at Oxford University while continuing to paint and draw on the side.  After graduating, Hector decided to become a full-time artist.  Within two years he held his first solo exhibition.  Since then he has travelled extensively and has exhibited in Germany, Paris, Stuttgart, Belfast, Stockholm and Madrid, as well as in London and Ireland.

Hector has not shied away from difficult subject matter.  Parts of his work reflect scenes from the time he spent in Rwanda and the camps of Zaire following the tragic massacres that took place.  After that he spent a number of years living between New York and Antrim.  After the events of September 11th 2001, Hector exhibited work which is a poignant record of post 9/11 New York life.  He described how when he walked around Ground Zero, it smelt and felt like Belfast in the Seventies.  “The smell of burning buildings. And smell can remind you very strongly, it shook me.”

Closer to home, Hector was commissioned to paint the moment that the Queen crossed the street to visit St. Michael’s Catholic Church after attending a service in St. Macartin’s Church of Ireland Cathedral in Enniskillen on 26 June 2012 as part of her two-day Diamond Jubilee tour of Northern Ireland. Canon Peter O’Reilly reflects on the work, “The street is the focus of the painting because it is the place where the Queen gave a new direction to our common history, while it remains as a place for growth and development.”

 

The SCC polocrosse team scored a fine victory in miserable conditions winning 10:2 against Wesley college. The team comprised: Helena Brauchitsch, Theresa Elverfeldt, Katie Nixon, Ella Noeldeke, Emily Torkington, Ofelia Masango and Lea Horsch.

The College is currently advertising for three teaching vacancies from September 2017: Head of Mathematics, Teacher of French, and Teacher of Irish. See our Vacancies page for more details.

We congratulate wholeheartedly our colleague Justyna Pyz on being awarded her doctorate earlier this year. Justyna has been awarded a Doctorate in Anthropology from the Jagiellonian University in Kraków. Her thesis is entitled “Beginnings of accommodation in India. Mission in Madurai 1606-1656” It’s about Roberto de Nobili, an Italian Jesuit missionary in India. He was a precursor of inter-religious and inter-cultural dialogue and the first European to learn Sanskrit and read the sacred scriptures of the Vedas.

Justyna is assistant housemistress in Iona house and married to Mr Michael O’Shaughnessy.