The College community has been rocked by the news over the weekend of the passing of one of our First Form Tibradden pupils, Joshua Yang.  He had been fighting an aggressive form of cancer in Crumlin Hospital for over two months but he eventually succumbed to his illness on Saturday.  We are so incredibly proud of Joshua for his courage and resilience throughout this period.

Joshua was a very sweet and affectionate boy with an extremely strong heart.  During his short time in St Columba’s he made many friends and it was very evident that he loved his time here.  He travelled to the school from China with very little English but he worked incredibly hard to improve in all aspects of College life.  He was a talented pianist and he also loved playing hockey and rugby.

Since the news broke that Joshua was in hospital there has been an unbelievable amount of support from the College Community and he was so grateful to everyone for their kind messages.  This community spirit played an important part in helping Joshua and his parents through this incredibly difficult period and his parents, Peter and Lucy would like to thank everyone for their support.

In his parents’ words, “Each of us is a winner at this time.  There is no illness in heaven.  May Joshua begin his new life.  May everyone here be healthy and happy!  Thank you!”

Joshua is an example of true inner and spiritual strength to all of us.  The College sends its deepest sympathy to his parents Peter and Lucy.  May he rest in peace.

Joshua Mu Yang, 02 April 2007 – 27 June 2020


On Sunday evening, a short socially-distanced service was held in the College Chapel for some campus staff residents, with Joshua’s parents Peter and Lucy in attendance. You can listen to this below.

“Crash Club Debate is a politics debating club where we, a group of 15 Fifth Formers, discuss current affairs, political and social issues. Over the past few weeks we have held virtual debates through Google Meet. At the beginning of each week we chose a topic that interests all members of the club. We then have time to research our topic so that we are prepared to bring our points to the table when the debate begins.”

Here are the deliberations of the club.

Today the College community mourns as we hear of the death this morning of former Warden, David Gibbs, at the age of 93, in County Laois, (where he and his wife Sally had retired to on leaving the College in 1988). He became Warden in 1974, the first layman to hold the office, and in the following years had a profound influence on the school.

He and his family continued to be close to the school, and the College sends its sympathy to his widow Sally, and to his children William, Lucinda and Alexander (all Old Columbans) and their families.

May he rest in peace.


Below, David Gibbs is interviewed by John Fanagan in a video interview produced by Garry Bannister.

This morning in the online ‘Assembly’ the Warden announced Prefect appointments for the next academic year.

Congratulations to the following:

Éile Ní Chianáin (Senior Prefect), Gioia Doenhoff (Second Prefect), Peter zu Bentheim, Sinead Cleary, Raphaela Ihuoma, Stella Jacobs, Charlotte Moffitt, Aiyuni O’Grady, Timothy Otway-Norwood, Oliver Townshend, Fintan Walsh, Oscar Yan.

We’re delighted that our beautiful new development, Whispering House, is on the shortlist for the RIAI Public Choice Award. Many congratulations to the architects, Coady Architects.

Now in their 31st year, the RIAI Awards are the premier architectural awards in Ireland. The RIAI Awards recognise excellence in design and the contribution made by architecture to society for everyone’s benefit. Following an open call for entries, the projects on the Shortlist were selected by the Jury from anonymous entries. The Public Choice Award is a unique opportunity for the public to choose their favourite project of the year from this Shortlist.

Of course, we’d appreciate your vote for Whispering House, which can be given here.

The following pupils have been awarded Form Prizes based on the quality of their work throughout the academic year (including the ‘remote’ learning this term).

Congratulations to:

Form I

Keelin Bradley-Brady
Carlotta Castagna
Alexander Fought
Lucas Weber

Form II

Ekaterina Dementyeva
Elizabeth Hart
Noah Kutner
Rachel Shaw
Calvin She

Form III

Kate Higgins
Emily McCarthy
Cian Slyne
Isabel Warnock

Form IV

T.J. Hopkins
Avi Johnston
Edna Johnston
Marcus O’Connor
Nelly Ploner

Form V

Sinead Cleary
Gioia von Doenhoff
Éile Ní Chianáin
Oscar Yan

Form VI

Megan Bulbulia
Sophia Cole
Camila Garcia Herrera
Dmytro Kasianenko
Eliza Somerville
Tania Stokes


Ms Murphy and Ms Cullen write: “Well done to everyone who entered the June Programme Poster Competition on hand-washing. We received excellent entries which can all be seen on Firefly here (pupil/parent log-in required).

The overall winner was Isabel Warnock – featured picture (Form III).  Runners-up: Jamie Green (Form III), Elizabeth Hart (Form II) and Alison Coogan (Form II). Well done to you all!”


Ms Murphy writes: “We had our last virtual Artist Talk yesterday evening with animator Daniel McGuire. Thank you so much for all the time you spent chatting to pupils. He spoke about different colleges to study animation in Ireland (Bally) & abroad, portfolio tips, what he does as a GC generalist, different jobs in animation (2D animator/ character design…) some advertisements he made and lots more. I loved learning at this one myself and seeing the work and all the layers that goes into any animation.

Painter and cartoonist Pan Cooke also spoke this week about his work and we had the well-known director and producer Alexandra McGuinness and her husband and actor Blake Berris on last week.

One big positive to take from lockdown is getting this opportunity to talk to so many different artists, creatives and people online and from all over the world and Ireland. From graphic Designers to animators, painters, producers, actors and “art makers”… it has been very interesting to hear about everyone’s journey and creative outlets.

Thank you so much to all the speakers who joined us and shared their passion for their. And huge thank you and well done to all the pupils who joined and at the end of such a busy, mental term! Thank you to Maybelle for organising some speakers and being so enthusiastic. Now with all this inspiration and ideas bubbling – get making for yourselves!’

Throughout June, pupils have been challenged to recreate a famous work of art using the objects and people at home. It really captured the pupils’ imagination and the variety of submissions was amazing. The album below contains a large variety of the entries received. Well done to everyone involved!

Throughout this academic year, the College has placed a greater emphasis on developing leadership potential amongst the pupil body, amplifying the ‘pupil voice’ and encouraging independent thinking across all forms. The College has an ambitious aim to develop a world-class leadership development programme in the years to come, beginning with the youngest pupils and moving right up through the school. Building on this early initiative, for the first time the College will present ‘Leadership Awards‘, recognising pupils who have shown leadership throughout the year.  Most of these pupils do not have formal leadership roles within the school but have “stepped-up” when required to help improve the school or shown initiative on an independent project. All of the recipients were nominated by both their fellow pupils and their teachers and over one hundred nominations were submitted.

St. Columba’s College is a small but complex school environment that relies on pupils and teachers working together, through shared values, to be the best school we can be. For the school to be successful and to fully realise its goals and values, strong leadership amongst the staff and pupils is essential.

Leadership can’t be described as a single skill. It comprises multiple sub-skills including communicating, working with others, being personally driven and managing oneself (all identified as key skills in the Junior & Senior Cycle Frameworks). Leaders are also knowledgeable and can apply their knowledge to unseen challenges. Leadership is not about seniority or one’s position within the school – all members of the College community can be and are potential leaders. Neither is it about personality – all kinds of people can be leaders and it is important to stress that leaders are not always the loudest, most charismatic and confident characters; leaders can be quiet, modest and introverted also.

The College is delighted to award the following pupils with a Leadership Award for the academic year 2019 / 2020.

Form I

Aeladh Bradley Brady

Joshua Yang

Aran Murphy

Form II

Hugo Laurenceau

Abbie Murray

Cameron McKinley

Calvin She

Form III

Marco Trolese

Elys Walker

Tyrone Shi

Form IV

Peter Taylor

Avi Johnston

Edna Johnston

Evie Pringle

Form V

Sinéad Cleary

Raphaela Ihuoma

Éile Ní Chíanáin

Tim Norwood

Form VI

Camila Garcia Herrera

Thady McKeever

Margot Aleixandre

Congratulations to all the above pupils on their awards. We are all hugely proud of their efforts to make the school a better place. One cannot mention leadership without also thanking the cohort of College Prefects, who led the pupil body fantastically this year.

Mr. Jones, the newly appointed Director of Pupil Leadership, announced the recipients of the awards and briefly outlined the rationale for their awards in the Warden’s end of term assembly earlier today. You can see a recording of that assembly on FireFly here.

In 2020, the annual Voices of Poetry evening moved online. Normally, we would be round a single spotlight in the Big Schoolroom listening to words in different languages from all over the world. This time, words were sent from all over the world in, to be gathered virtually in this recording. Many thanks to Mr Swift for putting it all together.

Poems and readers: 

  • Mr Canning – Spring by Gerard Manley Hopkins 
  • Mrs Boobbyer – When by John O’Donnell 
  • Phoebe Grennell (Form V) – What If 2020 Isn’t Cancelled by Leslie Dwight 
  • Sveva Ciofani (Form V) – A Zacinto by Ugo Foscolo (Italian) 
  • Peter zu Bentheim – Nemzeti Dal by Sandor Petofi (Hungarian)  
  • Mr Finn – Ozymandias by Percy Shelley 
  • Cameron McKinley (Form II) – Not Waving But Drowning by Stevie Smith 
  • Orrin Bradley Brady (Form IV)  – The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost 
  • Emily McCarthy (Form III) – from Virgil’s Aeneid, Book IV (Latin) 
  • Mr Brett – In Memory of WB Yeats by WH Auden 
  • Mr Crombie – The Child is Not Dead by Ingrid Jonker 
  • Mr Cron – Soldier’s Poem of Salvation from Ravi Zakarias 
  • Naoise Murray (Form II) –  Patch Seanin by JM Synge 
  • Ms Lynch – Faoiseamh a Gheobhadsa by Martin O’Direain 
  • Megan Bulbulia (Senior Prefect) – An Irish Airman Foresees His Death by WB Yeats 
  • Phoebe Landseer (Form II) – Maj by Karel Hynek Mácha (Czech) 
  • Dr Pyz –  Proba by Wislawa Szymborska (Polish) 
  • Elise Williams (Form V) – Let America Be America Again by Langston Hughes 
  • Vivian Tuite (Form II) There Will Come Soft Rains by Sara Teasdale 
  • Mr Girdham – A Portable Paradise by Roger Robinson 
  • Alex O’Herlihy – He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven by WB Yeats

During the June Programme, the Biology Department challenged the pupils to create a piece of artwork with a biological focus. Biology and art are cosy bed-fellows, and their evolution has intertwined throughout history. Art provides an opportunity to study living things, and their parts, in extraordinary detail thus improving our knowledge and understanding of the world around us. Pupils could use a variety of media to explore biological art in one of the following five themes: plants, animals, inside the cell, viruses or anatomy.

The entries have now all been received and our judge, Old Columban and botanical artist Holly Somerville, has decided on a winner. Many congratulations to Zofia Cannon-Brookes (Form III) for her piece ‘Inside we are all the same‘. Holly remarks: “It combines excellent illustrative qualities with painterly skills, while at the same time reminding us of such an important and timely issue. A superb design!” Zofia wins a signed print of Holly’s wonderful painting ‘Sanctuary’ (shown above).

‘Inside we are all the same’ by Zofia Cannon-Brookes

The following pupils and their paintings were all ‘Highly Commended’: Kate Higgins (Lung Flowers), Elena O’Dowd (Vibrant Skull) and Isabel Warnock (Coffea arabica). Each will receive a copy of either Animalium, Botanicum or Anaticum – wonderful books celebrating the best of biological art.

The College Virtual Choir launch their performance of Bob Marley’s ‘One Love’ tomorrow morning at 11:30am. Be sure to check it out on FireFly here or by watching below (when it goes live).

While we couldn’t maintain the traditions of a normal Sports’ Day this year, we did move it online… check it all out in this film.

Sincere thanks to Mrs Johnson for organising the day, Ms Thompson for putting the film together, Reverend Owen for lots of photographs, and all pupils, parents and staff who participated.


Well done to all those who contributed to the final edition of The Submarine for this academic year: click here to access and download a copy.

First Formers Rory O’Dowd, Hal Somerville and Alexander Fought write about their grandparents.  Fifth Former Maybelle Rainey  reports on forest fires in the Hortland Bog in North Kildare and Hugo Dunlop (Fourth Form) asks whether humanity’s aspiration to do justice at Nuremberg has been fulfilled. We also hear what some of our pupils got up to during ‘lockdown’ and about their plans now that lockdown has been lifted. There are poems from Isabella Treacy (II) and Marco Trolese (III) and an abundance of art-work from Third Formers Zofia Cannon-Brookes, Kate Higgins, Isabel Warnock and Pavlov Shavlov,  as well as Fourth Formers, Cadhla McGuinness and Iona Chavasse and Fifth Formers Arizona Ford and Ana Junquera, among others.

Sixth Former Thady McKeever and his friend Joe Gordon have decided to cycle to every GAA club in their home county, Louth, (a total journey of 260km) for Cancer Research Ireland and Purple House Cancer Support. We are all greatly affected by cancer and Purple House is closely linked to the school (it is the chosen charity for the postponed Run ‘Til the Sun). By June 13th they have raised €1800 and aim to €4000 and would really appreciate more contributions here:

Last Wednesday the Warden, Mark Boobbyer, interviewed Rajmohan Gandhi (grandson of Mahatma Gandhi) via Google Meet.  In a wide-ranging and fascinating interview, Mr Gandhi speaks of his memories of his grandfather and the lessons he can still teach us about navigating the complex world of the 21st century. The full video is available here but below is a short clip on Rajmohan Gandhi’s advice on leadership for the pupils of St. Columba’s College.

Rajmohan Gandhi is a biographer and a research professor at the Center for South Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, University of Illinois. In the photograph below, Rajmohan is pictured with his grandfather and sister Tara in New Delhi in 1942.

Again, the full interview is available to view here.

Mrs Johnson thanks all who participated in the first-ever SCC Virtual Sports’ Day on Wednesday. It was great to see so many contributions from the Columban community (including family members) from around the world.

A film of the day is being put together, and will be available here before long.

(featured photo from last year, of course).

Meanwhile, here is Mrs Johnson’s announcement about the winners…