The snow arrived late last night and, while it prevented some day pupils from coming to school today, College life went on (our boarders still sat their mock and term examinations). The College, being predominently a boarding school, will remain open over the next few days although there will be changes to prep arrangements and the games programme will obviously cease until the snow thaws. Parents should check their email for the latest updates from the College.

Our resident photographer, Rev Owen, was busy snapping before and after chapel this morning trying to capture the beauty of the snow around the campus. Below are a selection of his photos.

Basketball has always been a popular and successful sport for the College, especially with the girls, but there are probably more pupils playing the sport in the College now than ever before. The Senior Boys recently faced St.Michael’s in the 3rd and 4th place play-off in the EAST Region League. The two teams had met earlier in the league campaign with Michaels winning comfortably. With some well planned defensive adjustments the team put in a hugely passionate and focused effort in the rematch. The game was a tightly fought content with no more that 3-5 points separating the teams throughout the game. We led the game for most of the last quarter with a fine display of defensive rebounding and good shot selection. However, a few tough refereeing calls down the straight and undisciplined fouls gave Michaels the opportunity they needed in the final minute. They hit two free throws with seconds left to win the game 33-32. The loss here meant that team would have to go through a further qualification game to reach the All-Ireland. On Jan 15th they traveled to Heywood School in Portlaoise for another close fought contest. The journey was still in their legs for the first quarter and Heywood took an early lead. Good inside play by Tiernan Mullane and Ryan Gumsheimer helped to close the gap. Defensively the team were solid but missed some easy baskets down the line with Heywood taking the prized place by the narrow margin of 6 points.

The Cadette Girls had a very competitive league campaign. The kicked off the play-off’s for the South Dublin League with a super display of basketball against Mt. Anville. This was probably one of the best games the team played as a unit. Co-Captains Lucia Masding and Elena Witte lead by example controlling the game, winning the boards and orchestrating the fastbreak. By the third quarter the game was over with a clear 20 point lead to finish the game. 36-16. Their semi-final game was indeed a different scenario. Dalkey was a much more orgainsed team whom they had narrowly beated in the league by 1 point. The January flu had decimated the team and due the the time constraints the fixture could not be changed. Half the team were ill, or just recovering, so we knew it was going to be tough. Despite this the girls put up a solid performance but unfortuantley lost 23-27. Heart breaking!! The Junior and Minor teams have been training hard since September and finally began their leagues in January. Both teams are performing very well with the Juniors 4-2 and the Minors 5-1 in their league games.

In rugby, both the Junior and Senior teams lost their cup matches last term but had plenty of fixtures, mainly in their respective leagues, over January. The Juniors also played in a Shield competition but lost out to near neighbours De la Salle Churchtown on a scoreline of 0-21. Their league campaign has been a mixed one, playing against the 2nds and 3rds of some of the bigger rugby schools. They earned a deserved draw away to Kilkenny College’s J2s but were beaten heavily by Blackrock’s slick J3 squad last Saturday. On Wednesday last they travelled to Clongowes Wood and grabbed a great 24-22 win against their J2s (with some excellent tries from Cian Mullane, Jack Hayes, Thomas Somerville and Oliver Townsend), but it wasn’t enough to progress to the next stage of the competition. The Seniors have played two League fixtures, against Gonzaga 2nds (winning 22-5) and Terenure Thirds (losing 11-22) and face Roscrea after half-term to secure a place in the next round. The Ducks have played two games and continue their winning run, defeating De la Salle and Wilson’s Hospital with some excellent performances.

It’s been a busy period for the College’s hockey teams too. The Senior boys spent the early part of their term preparing for their Cup fixture against Kings Hospital but sadly they lost out narrowly 1-2. They have since been preoccupied with the Senior B league and had a good win (4-1) over Wesley B’s recently. This meant they finished 3rd in their group and would play St. Andrew’s B in the semi final. They won 4-0 and await either Kilkenny or Wesley B in the final on March 7th. Both the Under 13’s and Under 14’s reached the quarter finals of their respective cups – The U13’s losing out in a competitive games to St. Andrew’s A (0-2) while the U14’s take on Kilian’s after half term. The Junior XI unfortunately lost their second round cup fixture against High School (1-3). However, they have a league semi-final to look forward to after half term against Kilkenny College.

The Senior girls competed in an indoor hockey tournament earlier this term, playing three matches. They defeated St. Andrew’s 4-1 and Wesley 6-0 but lost out to the eventual winners Mount Temple (1-3). They got revenge of sorts a week later, this time outdoors, defeating Mount Temple 2-0 in the League. They also since had a good win against Loreto Bray, 3-0. Of course there is a huge number of hockey teams in the College, and many more fixtures which have taken place over the past five weeks – a huge amount of thanks and credit go to their respective coaches.

Arrangements for the Hilary half-term:

Friday 9th February

  • Classes end at 10.50am, when pupils may leave on half-term.
  • 11am to 1pm: Parent-Teacher meeting in the Sports Hall (parents sign up on the form sent by the Office).

Sunday 18th February

  • 6.30pm to 8.30pm: boarders return to House.
  • 8.30pm: roll-call in House for all boarders.

Monday 19th February

  • 8.10am: day boys and girls report to House.
  • Mock Leaving Certificate examinations start.

Harry Oke, Form V, reports on the latest debating team competition – The PhilSpeaks at TCD.

The PhilSpeaks debating competition is a yearly debating competition organised by the Philosophical Society (The Phil) in Trinity College Dublin. This is the second year St. Columba’s has taken part in this competition, as debating becomes an increasingly strong part of our community. There were four teams of two in total that went for this event. And regardless of the fact that most people had not taken part in this form of debating, we were all willing to give it a shot. The teams were Toby Green and Georgia Keegan-Wignall, Caoimhe Cleary and Shannon Dent, Jakob Hasburg and James O’Connor and finally Jack Stokes and me, Harry Oke..

We were required to prepare a debate in fifteen minutes after we were told the motion without the aid of any sources except our minds. There were four sides, Opening Government, Opening Opposition, Closing Government and Closing Opposition. Jack and I found it relatively easier than the others as this is our second year but were still faced with the challenge of creating points that could win us the debate. Nevertheless, we all rose to the challenge and were able to work together and give well structured speeches.

Some of the topics were, “This house would ban homeschooling”, “This house would ban UFC” and “This house would force priests to report any violent or serious crimes they are told in Confession”. These were very different topics but I felt that we all complemented each other in our respective teams. Each person brought a different perspective to each argument, and produced an interesting and lively debate. Each side has to be original as you get no points for stating what a previous side has stated.
Unfortunately, none of our teams made it to the final, which was discouraging, but it was a fantastic weekend where we met a lot of wonderful people, created new experiences, fostered our deep passion for debating and overalls had an amazing time. I especially want to thank Ms. Duggan for all her hard work and this could have not been possible without her unwavering support.

A cast of ten from Forms Primary to III took on the Junior Play this term and only had a two and a half week period to rehearse and produce the whole endeavour. Spreading the News by Lady Gregory pokes gentle fun at small town gossiping and the Irish love of a dramatic bit of creative storytelling. It was directed by Evan Jameson and Ronan Swift (who had a little cameo performance) with the actors playing in barefoot on a sawdust strewn BSR floor. The short one act play proved popular amongst the pupils, staff and visitors. There is a really positive cohort of young and willing performers in the junior school as evidenced in the form plays in September and also this weekend – the future seems bright! Below are a selection of photos taken over the three nights of performance by Rev. Daniel Owen.

Yesterday we kick started our first ever Book Week at St. Columba’s, an initiative of the librarian Jean Kent Sutton and the English Department. Running from the 1st to the 8th of February, there are a series of events and initiatives to promote reading for pleasure through a range of activities including a ‘favourite book’ raffle, ‘book in a jar’, a library quiz and (for the junior forms) book speed dating. The library will be open every day during break and lunch-time and, on Saturday morning, staff and pupils are invited to bring a book of their choice into class for ‘Drop Everything And Read’. Various walls and doors walls around the school will be decorated with posters featuring staff members’ choices of favourite books (pictured above). Be sure to follow our Twitter and Facebook pages for updates and photos from the week’s events.

Last weekend thirty junior pupils travelled to Barcelona to experience and culture (and do some geography fieldwork) in one of Europe’s most wonderful cities. Form I pupil Marco Trolese reports on what was a most enjoyable and interesting trip for everyone.

The touring party outside the famous Sagrada Familia in Barcelona.

Very very early on the morning of Thursday 25th January, thirty excited pupils left St Columba’s for the cultural trip to Barcelona. We had a full itinerary organised for four days from Geographical sites to Architecture, History and experiencing Catalan culture. On the walking tour of the city we learnt a lot about the history of Barcelona. We walked through the streets of this fantastic city each day. One day we clocked up close to 17KMs!

The Sagrada Familia by Gaudi was so overwhelming and the building is expected to be completed 2026. All the tiny intricate details are very impressive, as was the stained glass windows and skylights. This was definitely my highlight of the trip. Park Guell has some beautiful sites and the architecture is so colourful with the mosaic tiles. This was where the richest people in the city lived, and you could see why. Barcelona’s aquarium was good and it was impressive to walk through the glass tunnel with the all the fish swimming around us.

The tour of Barcelona’s home stadium, Camp Nou, was interesting because we got to see the history of the team and achievements in the past. The football team clearly means a lot to the city. We were fortunate to have tickets to watch Barcelona play at home against local city rivals Espanyol in the Quarter Final of the Copa del Rey. What a great atmosphere – it was fantastic to see Barcelona’s 2-0 win. We also paid a visit to Montjuic where the Olympics were held in 1992. This gave us a fantastic view over the city in a nice area. The Olympic stadium was based here.

For the geographical study we went on a field trip to Sitges which is 30 km from Barcelona. Here, we learnt about coastal landforms and erosion. The weather was bad with rain pouring down on top of our makeshift ponchos (bin liners!). We completed a pebble study which linked to our coastal geography work in school. We got to discuss longshore drift, erosion and deposition. This helped to understand these processes.

Barcelona is a sustainable city and was the first city in the world to be awarded Biosphere certification. You could see why it’s considered sustainable with many solar panels, excellent public transport and city bikes calling ‘bicing’. After long busy days we were able to enjoy local cuisine and evening activities. We had an evening of competitive ten-pin bowling. The Lazer Tag game was an adrenalin filled competition with each team winning a game.

I would like to thank Mr Duffy, Mr Stevenson and Ms Harrahill for a very organised trip, which was so enjoyable and memorable. Overall this was a fantastic experience. Marco Trolese, Form I