Due to the pouring rain on Saturday morning and afternoon the sports day was postponed to the following Wednesday. However the Sports Dinner was conducted that evening with Dan van Zyl as the guest of honour. A South-African rugby player and cricketer, he has represented his country at both sports to the highest level. It was very interesting to hear of his sporting career and his inspirational words after he had issued the awards. The following were announced as the captains and secretaries for next season.

Cricket: Captain: Ivan Moffitt Secretary: Thaddy McKeever

Rugby: Captain: Sean Cooper Vice Capt: Joseph Gernon

Secretary: Hector Wright

Girls’ cricket: Captain: Helen Crampton

Boys’ basketball: Captain: Tiernan Mullane Secretary: Franz Truchsess

Girls’ Basketball: Captain: Adaze Mbanefo Secretary:  Helen Crampton

Girl’s Hockey: Captain: Sasha Cole Secretary:  Helen Crampton

Boys’ Hockey: Captain: Marc Philipp Eichhorn   Secretary:  Ivan Moffitt

Tennis: Captain:Tiernan Mullane (boys), Kim Voggel (girls)

Athletics: Captain: Julius Schaefer (boys)

The following were awarded Colours and pictured above with Dan van Zyl.

Rugby: Douglas Boyd Crotty, Freddie Johnson, Michael Kennedy, Igor Petrenko.

Girls’ Basketball: Ciara Murray.

Boys’ Hockey: Eckart Geyer.


On Thursday 1st June in the Big Schoolroom, Old Columban Alex Panayotou will talk to all V, IV, II, I and Primary (those in exam Forms are welcome too).

A motivational speaker based in Spain and Greece, with an extraordinary story in extreme-long-distance running, Alex’s talk will be called “Dare to Dream – Dare to be You”.

Alex will based her talk on some of her own experiences, and focus on personal excellence, self-esteem, knowing yourself, accepting yourself, finding your passion and path, trusting yourself, empathy and team spirit, and emotional intelligence.

Alex left the College thirty years ago (she is in Dublin for her thirty-year reunion at the weekend, a close bond that has persisted over the decades), and has kept in close touch since. She knows the importance of  being part of such a community, and the fact that this is not the norm in most schools. The synergies and relationships that are created here are truly unique, and can help us all moving forward in our lives.

Alex also contributed a testimonial to our new prospectus:

“”St. Columba’s helped shape me into who I am today – my inner strength, my passion for sports, adventure, the arts, learning, and interpersonal relationships were nurtured through the unique curriculum, and helped enormously in the development of my career. My home away from home: the pupils and staff were my family.”

Check out her website, including videos, here.

Educating the next generation is the most serious and weighty responsibility that anyone could possibly engage in. However, as in every profession or vocation, it is important not to take oneself too seriously. When you are working with young people laughter and absurdity are never very far away and in my experience most teachers are good at laughing at themselves. A staff room is a place of great camaraderie and mutual support. There is always something around the corner to bring you down to earth and more often than not your colleagues are responsible. Or something entirely unpredictable.

Let’s take yesterday as an example. We had our annual Confirmation service in the afternoon, a happy and enjoyable affair with plenty of visitors. During the service I left my two dogs in my study because I feel sorry for them being locked up at home all day when my wife is away. I was outside the chapel afterwards talking to a parent when a girl came up to me and told me I needed to come back to my study quickly. It transpired that the younger dog, still a puppy, had found a blue biro, chewed it up, walked in the ink and then run all over the light brown carpet leaving footprints everywhere. It is hard to believe that such a small dog could cause so much mess. It was a scene of mayhem. Today I have to receive some visiting parents who are contemplating making a serious investment to send their children to my school…let’s hope they aren’t too alarmed by a Warden who cannot control his own pets, let alone a school.

A couple of weeks ago, while walking with gravitas through the assembled children after Chapel I stumbled and nearly fell down the stairs in front of everyone, to general delight. In the same week I managed to come into a hymn in Chapel a beat too early. You know those moments when someone comes in early and everyone smiles and turns to look at the culprit…only this time the culprit was the Warden. Oh well…no danger of taking myself too seriously in those circumstances.

Every teacher will remember those moments in class or in a boarding house when a pupil has done something against the rules, but which is actually very funny. With great difficulty you keep a straight face and read the riot act, then go into the staff room and burst out laughing: the child who has given you the most ridiculous excuse for wearing the incorrect uniform or told you that he smells of cigarette smoke because he was with others who were smoking, but he didn’t smoke himself. I was once talking to a boy in house who wanted to go out for the weekend and while he was asking he pulled his hand out of his pocket and a packet of fags accidentally fell out and landed at my feet. The boy whom I caught walking down the corridor with a half empty bottle of wine, which he claimed was not his, but someone else’s, who had left it in his room. He was just returning it. Then there was the boy who managed to rack up a £12,000 mobile phone bill on another boy’s phone, downloading movies which he thought were free. (Don’t worry, these things didn’t happen at St. Columba’s. Obviously such things would never happen here!)

Occasionally a quiet and good-natured boy or girl, who has never been in trouble before, does something stupid and cops the consequences. I feel a sense of relief, as if to say, ‘I am so glad that they have got it wrong at last. I was beginning to worry.’ Obviously it would be better to stay out of trouble but we learn from making mistakes and testing the boundaries and getting it wrong may not be a bad thing. Young people must be allowed to make mistakes.

So running a school is a very serious business. However the laughter in the staff room and the antics of the pupils can brighten many a rainy day and we are all better for that.

By the way the carpet cleaner is coming this afternoon.

Yesterday 15 candidates were confirmed at the Ascension Day service in Chapel on a gloriously sunny day by the Archbishop of Dublin, Most Reverend Michael Jackson, assisted by the Chaplain, Reverend Daniel Owen. Pictured, the group after the service.

We were promised entertainment, we were promised variety and we got both in abundance last night in the BSR. Nineteen ‘acts’ performed, ranging from dance to guitar, duets to choirs, piano solos to rock bands, all showing off their talents to the appreciative audience. An evening which was in the best traditions of entertaining and supporting each other. A tremendous show organised by Mrs Malone Brady and her assistants. Well done to all concerned. The participants were:

1) The orchestra

2) Henry zu Rantzau (voice)

3) Emma Hinde (guitar)

4) Aurora Higgins Jennings (piano and voice)

5) Nicole Dickerson and Anna Janssen Heidenfeld (duet)

6) Sine Nomine choir

7) Imogen Casey and Phoebe Grennell (duet)

8) Songyon Oh (dance)

9) Aifo Ebelghe, Nicole Dickerson, Nevin McCone, Ciara Gumsheimer, Mona Lamotte (song)

10) Alexandra Malone and Aurora Higgins Jennings (piano and voice)

11) Ferdinand Kuehne and Anton Tapking (trumpet)

12) Tania Stokes (cello)

13) Ralph Sweetman Sutton (voice)

14) Ciara Gumsheimer, Robyn Brady, Aisha Burke, Maria Herrero

15) Andre Stokes (violin)

16) Anna Laurenceau and Mona Lamotte (voice and guitar)

17) Ciara Gumsheimer (piano)

18) Rock Band – Ross Magill, Toby Green, Sakhile Khumalo, Nevin McCone, André Stokes and Alex Russell.

Many thanks to Henry zu Rantzau for the video clips which can been viewed here.

The St. Columba’s College CanSat Crew, ably led by Ms. Hennessy, recently won the national final and will represent Ireland in the European final in Bremen, Germany, next June. The team update us on their preparations for the European final here. 

 CanSat is a simulation of a real satellite, integrated within the volume and shape of a soft drink can. The challenge for us was to fit all the major subsystems found in a satellite, such as power, sensors and a communication system, into this minimal volume. During the national competition our can was launched to an altitude of 400m by a rocket and our mission began –  to collect scientific data and achieve a safe landing.

This project has given us a unique opportunity to gain practical experience of a real space project. We designing the CanSat, selecting its missions, integrating the components, tested and calibrated our senors,  prepared for launch and then analysed the data. We them had to present our findings to the judges who were extremely impressed with our knowledge, application and most of all team work.

Following our success in the national competition we are now busy preparing for the European competition. ESA recently announced this year location and the team of 8 (William Zitzmann, Jiwoo Park, Caroline Meincke, Leonard Lopez, Harry Oke, Teresa Clemente, Ted Johnson and Blas Calatayud) will be travelling to the Center of Applied Space Technology and Microgravity (ZARM), at the University of Bremen, Germany. The competition campaign will take place from 28 June until 2 July 2017 where we will be competing against 16 other teams from around Europe including – Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Italy, Norway, Portugal, Poland, Romania, the Netherlands, Spain, Hungary, Switzerland and the UK.

While we wait for our new sensors and GPS module to arrive we are carrying out additional research and working hard on our Pre-Launch Report (PLR) which must be submitted to ESA in early June.

The European CanSat competition is only one of ESA’s initiatives to help young people increase their literacy and competence in STEM disciplines and inspire them to pursue a career in the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) fields. We are delighted to have made it this far and looking forward to representing Ireland in June.

CanSat Team

The sixth annual Transition Year Evening for Modern Languages was held on Tuesday evening in the BSR. Twelve pupils gave presentations in French and Spanish on subjects including La moda española, Le terrorisme en France, Le pain au chocolat, Le Gard, Angers, La Suisse romande, Le Mont Saint-Michel and l’Art Nouveau. There were also readings of poems in German, Japanese, Luxembourgish, Korean, Catalan, Russian, Yoruba and Irish. The night was capped off with an entertaining video from Mr Morris’s French set about life at St Columba’s.

Prizes were awarded as follows:
1st place: David White for Mon séjour en Normandie (winner of the Dr Alyn Stacey Cup)
We are extremely grateful to Dr Alyn Stacey and her team from TCD who adjudicated and provided such valuable feedback. The judges were extremely impressed by the depth of research and quality of language of all the presentations.

On Sunday morning a group of 11 TY pupils walked along the Bull Wall to the lighthouse. Our run of luck with the weather continued and we enjoyed wonderful views across Dublin Bay.

We are holding our regular summer term Open Evening on Thursday 18th May, from 6.30pm to 8.30pm, and all are welcome: places may be booked by contacting the Admissions Officer, Amanda Morris via the contact form or by emailing admissions@stcolumbas.ie.

Visitors are welcome at the Main House from 6.30pm. At 7pm there will be a short presentation by staff on the school, followed by 30-minute tours conducted by Junior pupils.

We were delighted to welcome back eleven Old Columbans today as speakers for this year’s Transition Year Careers Morning. The speakers took part in some career “speed dating” rotating around small groups of pupils, speaking with them about their roles and taking questions for 10 minutes. It was a great event and we were delighted to see our former pupils report great successes in their careers to date. The speakers this year were Jaspar Pickersgill (Royal Navy Engineer), Klara Douglas (Airbnb), Adam Philpot (Brooks Sports), Emma Mallon (Screentime ShinAwiL), Georgie Smithwick (Diageo), Aifric Tracey (J&S Automotive), Jack Dunne (Windmill Lane Recording Studios), Emma Klyne (Leading Social), Tom Crampton (Actavo), Jessica Dean (eBay) and Ian McKinley (Benetton Treviso). A huge thank you to all the speakers for giving so generously of their time.

 FORM PRIZES 2016-17 (these are based on the results of College examinations so far this year).

Congratulations to:-

  • SIXTH FORM: Douglas Boyd Crotty, Ciara Gumsheimer, Juliane Hastedt, Courtney McKee, Rafael Mendes.
  • FIFTH FORM: Sasha Cole, Richard Gao, Friedrich Hastedt, Nyla Jamieson, Nathalie Verwijs.
  • FOURTH FORM: Catherine Butt, Harry Oke-Osanyintolu, Ji Woo Park, Julius Reblin, Casper von der Schulenburg.
  • THIRD FORM: Sam Lawrence, Eliza Somerville, Tania Stokes.
  • SECOND FORM: Diego Casasus Benitez, Éile Ní Chianáin, Aurora Higgins Jennings, Charlotte Moffitt.
  • FIRST FORM: Tom Casey, Emma Hinde, Caleb Swanepoel.
  • PRIMARY: Carl Krenski, Kaley Song.


Congratulations to Catherine Butt, from Hollypark House, on winning the Transition Year Academic Prize last night. Catherine fought off stiff competition from four of her peers from Form IV, presenting her recent research on theories of personality psychology. As well as displaying a clear understanding of the topic, Catherine demonstrated her ability to apply her knowledge to various scenarios. She also dealt with the clever questions from the judge, Mr. Alan Cox of Templecarrig School in Greystones, and from the audience. It was a close decision with only 5 marks separated the five speakers in the scoring in the end.  Many thanks to the other speakers on the night too – Toby Green (Ireland’s mother & baby homes), James Park (artificial intelligence), Julius Reblin (autonomous cars & cashless society) and Grace Goulding (human trafficking). A final thank you to Mr. Cox for taking the time to attend and for providing excellent feedback to all the speakers.

Well done to the St. Columba’s College Senior Cricket team who recently won the Fanagan trophy. The trophy is named after and awarded by Mr. John Fanagan (former Head of English at St. Columba’s) to the winner of an annual fixture between SCC and Sandyford Cricket Club. St. Columba’s set a target of 125 runs off their 20 overs (7 wickets taken) – Thomas Meijer with an impressive 63. Sandyford started strongly but some excellent fielding (including an tremendous catch from George Guinness) put pressure on the visitors. In their final over, and with three wickets in hand, Sandyford needed just 5 runs to win but Form III pupil Daniel Swift nervously bowled an excellent final over. He limited the visitors scoring while also claiming one wicket with a great bowl, and seeing Sandyford’s final batsmen being run out going for a second run. The game end with Sandford on 124-9 and St. Columba’s winning with the narrowest of margins.

St. Columba’s College are delighted to announce details of a new and exciting Cultural Trip to China in March / April in 2018. The proposed trip to China will provide a once in a lifetime opportunity for pupils to see many of the highlights that China has to offer. Over 12 days the pupils will visit Hong Kong, Shanghai, Beijing, Xian and the stunning natural forests and mountains at Zhangjiajie. Staying in luxury hotel accommodation throughout, the pupils and accompanying staff will get the opportunity to experience a very different, and increasingly important, culture and cuisine while taking in the breathtaking scenery and cityscapes. The trip is currently only available for pupils entering Form IV and V this coming September.

The main highlights of the trip are as follows:

  • 3 nights in Hong Kong & Kowloon visiting the Science Museum, History Museum, Victoria Peak, Lantau Island, the Giant Buddha and a full guided tour of the city.
  • 2 nights in Shanghai visiting the Bund, China Maritime Museum, Urban Planning Exhibition Hall, the Old Town,  Yu Garden, Xintiandi and the popular and ancient “water town” Zhujiajiao.
  • 1 night in Zhangjiajie visiting the UNESCO World Heritage Site & National Forest Park (Tianzi Mountain & Yuanjiajie).
  • 2 nights in Xian, former capital, visiting the Terracotta Warriors and Horse Museum, the ancient city wall and other attractions.
  • 3 nights in Beijing visiting Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City, the Temple of Heaven, Wangfujing Street, the Great Wall and the Summer Palace.

China is becoming a significant world power, culturally and economically, and exposure to this vibrant and important culture, in a safe and structured tour, will provide pupils with a unique opportunity and potential new perspective on the world. Full details on the cost and payment schedule of the trip have been emailed to all parents of all pupils entering Form IV and V next September. Applications are made via this online application formThe closing date for receipt of applications is Friday May 26th 2017.

If you require any further information about the trip or have not received the email with the full details, please contact the organising teachers Mr. Tristan Clarke (tclarke@staff.stolumbas.ie) or Mr. Humphrey Jones (hjones@staff.stcolumbas.ie).

An initiative of the Salters’ Institute, the objective of the competition is to promote the appreciation of chemistry and related sciences among the young. The Festivals are one-day fun events held at universities throughout the UK and Ireland. Salters’ Festivals provide the opportunity for enthusiastic young students to spend a day in a university department and to take part in practical chemistry activities which are fun!

The tasks at Trinity College today provided our pupils, and those of other 21 schools, with the opportunity to work together and apply what they have learned in science so far this year to solve new and exciting problems. They immersed themselves in two challenges, the first of which required them to try and solve a murder mystery through utilising chromatography investigations. In the second investigation they were given an array of solutions with universal indicator and had the challenge of recreating particular colours. Following a well deserved lunch break the pupils got to experience an interactive demonstration of mini experiments.

In the end, it was the St. Columba’s team who triumphed, achieving the top prize in the murder mystery challenge which they completed in the fastest time and achieved the highest ever score of 123 points. They displayed great ability to think logically under pressure and were merited on their teamwork skills and ability to interpret new information.

I have just come back from a few days at the Boarding Schools Association heads’ conference in York. As a boarding school in Ireland we are rather unusual and as there is no such network on this island it is helpful to be engaged in a wider boarding conversation. It is no good if we are the best boarding school in Ireland but fall well behind the standards of the best boarding practice elsewhere.

When surrounded by people who see as much value in boarding as I do it gets one thinking: what is it about boarding that means that it still survives, and indeed flourishes, in the 21st century? Here is my list, though certainly not exhaustive:

  • Boarding creates a wonderful sense of community, in which everyone should feel valued and accepted;
  • Living in a boarding house with others creates a sense of belonging and identity, as well as often a great sense of pride;
  • It is of great value for young people to live alongside others in close proximity. Often their housemates or dorm-mates are very different and would not naturally become friends, but one learns to appreciate those who are different from oneself and to get on with all sorts. That is a good preparation for life beyond school;
  • Pupils learn to be independent and make decisions for themselves away from their parents;
  • No time is wasted travelling to and from school…time that can be spent on work or activities for the children…and it frees up parents from the daily ferrying to school and other activities and clubs;
  • Boarding schools typically provide and encourage a huge amount of extra-curricular activity and pupils have the time to engage in that programme in a fuller way than if they were day pupils;

I have worked in boarding schools for 23 years and I envy the friendships and bonds that are created between those who spend their formative years together. That is not my experience of day schools…I went to a day school and have kept no friends from those days, even though my school experience was largely positive. The boys who went through my boarding house will be at each others’ weddings, be godparents to each others’ children, spend holidays together and even give the addresses at their funerals.

I would say all these things, wouldn’t I…after all I do run a boarding school and if I didn’t believe in it then it would be a bit worrying. I also understand that boarding is not right for everyone and I am too well aware that not everyone’s experience of boarding has been a happy one. There was a time when bullying was ignored and boarding schools were harsh places for the sporty and popular. Of course no school, however good, can ever claim to have no bullying, because young people, like adults, have a tendency to be unpleasant to each other. Nevertheless I do think that a really good boarding education is for many a fantastic start in life and all good boarding establishments nowadays are attuned as never before to those who are battling and struggling to fit in.

I am back at my desk now…school is over for the day and children at day schools have gone home. For us we have sports practices, cricket matches, Saturday school and a parents’ fund-raising dinner tomorrow night, chapel on Saturday and Sunday, a beautiful environment to enjoy. I love it.

Mark Boobbyer

We are holding our regular summer term Open Evening on Thursday 18th May, from 6.30pm to 8.30pm, and all are welcome: places may be booked by contacting the Admissions Officer, Amanda Morris via the contact form or by emailing admissions@stcolumbas.ie.

Visitors are welcome at the Main House from 6.30pm. At 7pm there will be a short presentation by staff on the school, followed by 30-minute tours conducted by Junior pupils.