And so, another Transition Year ends and it has been a rollercoaster ride. Seventy determined, hard working and ambitious young people started the year as they began it – at full speed – with the aim of growing as a person and as an academic. Here is a breakdown of the final term.

In May, many members of our TY took part in a hike along the Wicklow Way, to earn their physical challenge badge for the Gaisce Award. In glorious sunshine, the determined walkers trekked over 50km across some of Ireland’s most stunning trails. There was a visit to Grease in the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre and the annual visit to Causey Farm, for the usual fun in the mud!

Some TY pupils were invited to present work they made for the Architect in Schools Programme at the DLR Lexicon library. Our TY Skills Day took place earlier this term also, with pupils learned some basic DIY, hospitality skills and sewing.

The Transition Year Modern Language evening was held at Trinity College in late April. The overall winner was Delia Brady with prizes also awarded to Lucas Perez Soria and Lina Triebold. The judges were Dr Sarah Alyn-Stacey and Laura Le Cleach from the French Embassy.

The 29th annual Transition Year English Evening was held on Tuesday 28th May in the BSR, with Mr Jameson presenting this celebration of pupil writing. The visiting speaker was teacher Mrs Annie Donnelly, who was most impressed by pieces from Rebekah Fitzgerald Hollywood, Delia Brady, Finn Woolsey, Sofia Walker, Sophie Gibbs, Stella Borrowdale, Grant Fabian, Olive Mud, Cerys Mordaunt and Grace Koch.

Cerys Mordaunt won the TY Academic Prize for her excellent presentation on the brain of teenage girls. Many thanks for Alan Cox, principal of Templecarrig School for judging.

There was a great day trip to the local Explorium Science museum …. and, finally, the final Transition Year Award evening took place last night in Whispering House with multiple subject awards presented to pupils for their academic achievements. The Spirit of Transition Year Award was also presented, for encapsulating all that the Transition Year is designed for, to Safia Walker with Ignacio Suarez announced at the runner up. Full details of those awards can be found here.

Transition Year Photo Album 2023-2024

It’s been an incredibly busy final term for our Transition Year pupils, capping off an extraordinary year (read the end of term report here). Last night, at the prize presentation evening in Whispering House, our Transition Year co-ordinator Ms Lynch wrapped up the year, reflected on the various experiences and, finally, announced the following awards for academic performance across the year:

English: Grace Koch
Business: Felix Strigel
Economics: Giulia Trolese
Art: Rachel Pollock
Chemistry: David Chukwueke
Physical Education: Giulia Trolese
Biology: Polly Pringle
Geography: Naoise Bradley-Brady
Design: Jason Zhang
History: Elisabeth Sebbesse
Music: Cerys Mordaunt
Computer Studies: Eoin Siegel
Religion: Ignacio Suarez
French: Felix Strigel
Spanish: Grace Koch
Mathematics: Herbert Feng
Irish / Gaeilge: Dairbhre Murray
Classics: Safia Walker
Physics: Felix Strigel

Ms Lynch also announced another award – the Spirit of Transition Year Award – to the pupil who encapsulates what the Transition Year is design for: embracing every opportunity imaginable, growing and learning as both an academic and a person. We are delighted to announced this years winner as:

Spirit of Transition Year: Safia Walker
Runner-up: Ignacio Suarez

Safia Walker with the Spirit of Transition Year Cup

Mr Canning, our Head of Sport, reports on last Saturday’s Sports Dinner and the awarding of ‘Colours’.

The annual ‘College Traditional Team Sports Dinner’ was held on Saturday the 25th of May after the colour and fun filled Sports Day. Many thanks to Mr. Havenga and all the teaching staff and external coaches who helped make it a special day filled with colour and combining fun and traditional athletics events.  

During the evening we celebrate the participation and successes of our traditional teams over the year. Of course, individual sporting success is important but we hold particular store in our pupils’ involvement in a team sport.

Our guest speaker was was Old Columban Sophia Cole who left the College during the Covid evacuation of March 2020. In the Second Form Sophia played on the Senior Girls’ Hockey team that won the Senior Schools’ Trophy Cup. She represented Leinster at Under 16 and under 18 level.  She also represented Ireland at Under 16, Under 18, Under 21 and Under 23. This included playing for Ireland in the Junior World Cup in South Africa in 2022. She was part of the 2020 Senior Training Squad for the Tokyo Olympics. She was awarded an Ad Astra Sports’ Scholarship to UCD where she is currently the Club Captain.

Sophia was awarded College ‘Colours’ for her hockey achievements while in St.Columba’s and she would certainly have been Sportsperson of 2019-2020 if Covid had not completely disrupted that academic year and beyond.  

In her address to the pupils Sophia talked about her overall sporting experiences. She touched on the camaraderie and closeness of team mates, the travel experiences and the buzz of the competitive match arena. She also talked about the challenges and difficulties of being an elite sportsperson. How under the surface she  experienced anxiety and a lack of self confidence; that she managed to hold this at bay by implementing a focused and determinedly positive mindset reinforced by a systematic mantra whenever those internal doubts surfaced.

She openly shared that she had been playing in considerable pain since her schooldays and was only diagnosed as  suffering from Compartment Syndrome in her calves; while playing in Australia last summer.  She is currently recuperating from a relieving operation on the calves of both legs.  Hopefully, a full recovery will mean that she will be able to play and train pain free in the future. We certainly hope that Sophia’s dream of being part of the Irish Ladies Squad aiming to play in the 2028 Olympics in Los Angeles will be realised.  

Sophia’s talk resonated with our pupils.  The fact that she is only a few years older than them, candidly shared her thoughts and feelings so generously and openly. The fact that she is a fellow Columban made her talk even more special. I cannot thank her enough for giving us her time the day after her final commerce examinations ended. We wish her the very best while travelling through South East Asia before starting her accountancy internship.  LC

College Sports Colours 

We hold great store in what being awarded Colours means. Those who are awarded Colours are exceptional in every way.

  • They have excellent ability and an excellent attitude.
  • They are committed on and off the playing field.
  • They play and practise with consistency.
  • They are reliable and have character, resilience and courage.
  • They are an example to others either as leaders or soldiers on a team.
  • They are the ones who stand up when things are personally challenging or difficult for the team.
  • They are selfless and put others before themselves.
  • They are true team players.

Colours were awarded to 24 pupils this year and they were:

Boys’ BasketballConnor Bermann, Chris Atkins, Finn Tabb

Girls’BasketballAbbie and Raicheal Murray

CricketIsaac Dijkstra, Sean Roets, Sebastian Dijikstra, Harry St.Leger

Boys’ HockeyCristoph Geyer*, Julius Tenge, Joon Schultheiss, Harry St Leger

Girls’ HockeyHelena Schoen, Leopoldine Buenau, Elizabeth Hart

RugbyNoah Kutner, Cameron McKinley, Ned Chambre, Aaron Murray, Tomas Dwyer, Audrey Gardner, Hugo Laurenceau.

Multi Sport Colour (Special Category): Sarah Cron (For consistent commitment to a variety of Senior traditional team sports in the College over more than one year  (Hockey, Basketball, Cricket and Tennis), as well as being consistently involved in all our traditional team sports through her five years in the College)

Sports Persons of the Year

We do not always award this.  The reason is that we have a standard and that standard needs to be met for it to be awarded. We narrowed it down to two candidates this year. Both represented two College Senior Teams Hockey and Cricket for the last two years. They have also represented their country at a variety of age levels.

At Cricket Sebastian Dijikstra has represented Leinster at U15 and U17. He has been on the Leinster Schoolboys’ team for the last two years.  Last year he was on the Irish U17 team and is again. He was also on the U19 training panel and will be on that panel later in the summer.

Harry St. Leger has represented Leinster and Ireland Hockey Teams at U16 and U18 Levels. He also  represented Ireland at an U19 tournament last February. He will be playing for the Leinster Schoolboys cricket team against the MCC.  

The Heads of Sport Committee felt it would be invidious to separate them so they shared the award and the honour.  Joint winners – Sebastian Dijkstra and Harry St. Leger (pictured above with our guest speaker, Sophia Cole).

Sports Team of the Year – Senior Boys’ Cricket XI

The team reached their Leinster final two years in a row. This year’s final was one of a very high quality. St. Columba’s lost the toss and were set the daunting target of 298 runs. The pulses of the game went them and they replied with a creditable 192.

Although they did not win silverware the cricket team are playing in the very top league in the province.  The gained 2nd position last year and maintained it this year. They have four Leinster players on the team and two Irish players. This speaks of the standard they are playing at. On that basis the Senior Boys’ Cricket team beat off strong challenges from both the Senior Girls’ Basketball and Hockey teams.

Many thanks to Rev Owen for his wonderful photos of our very special sporting occasion.

Leadership Awards were presented to ten more worthy recipients this week (Hughie Casey, Gabriel Murphy and John-Jack Beglan O’Connell received Leadership Awards for their excellent charitable endeavours earlier this year), recognising the fine example they set throughout the year to their fellow pupils. This year, the Warden highlighted our young leaders who best represented each of the College values (Kindness, Inclusion, Compassion, Determination and Responsibility). Over 100 nominations were received from both pupils and staff.

This year’s recipients were: Ebah Assebian, Alannah Starbuck, Archie Monaghan, Daniel Moran, Rebecca Flanagan, Harry Powell, Henrike Tertilt, Marianna O’Shaughnessy, Ryan Murphy and Safia Walker.

Last Saturday, the College was once again awash with colourful energy as practically every pupil in the school took part in our annual Sports Day. There were multiple events taking place including the traditional caterpillar and three-legged race, soccer and rugby kicks, basketballl throws, long jump, high jump, shot put, archery, tug of war and more. Every pupil was assigned a team colour, with points accumulating across all the events. The winning team was BLUE, who were rewarded with the traditional ice cream trophies! Many thanks to Mr Havenga for organising this wonderful showpiece and to every pupil who took part.

The traditional end to Sports Day is the Cloister Dash, where our Form VI pupils compete in a race from the “white gate” to chapel square. The winners this year were Kim Guinness and Helena Schoen. Later that day, our annual Sports Dinner took place where appointments were made for next year and ‘Colours’ were awarded to pupils who have contributed to College sports at the highest level. Many thanks to Rev Owen for his excellent photos below!

The 29th Transition Year English Evening was held on Tuesday 30th May in the Big Schoolroom. Again, it was a showcase of some of the best writing done during the year in English classes (there is no competitive element). Mr Jameson hosted the event, and the guest was former English teacher here, Mrs Annie Donnelly, who now works at Loreto Beaufort School.

Speakers (with Mrs Donnelly’s comments in square brackets) were:

  • Rebekah Fitzgerald Hollywood on the nature of true friendship [this was thoughtful, with a clear sense of the person, and an excellent use of the extended metaphor].
  • Delia Brady on her great-grandmother, ‘a person I would bring back from the dead’ [an engaging, fascinating historical essay, powerful as well as moving and tragic].
  • Finn Woolsey on imagining his alternative self, ‘a person I would bring back from the dead’ [this was brilliantly philosophical, very controlled and original].
  • Safia Walker on the proposition that young people have more problems than adults [an essay that was convincing and persuasive].
  • Sophie Gibb with a story, ‘Window to the Soul’ [extremely memorable, with lots of tension and drama, and particularly effective use of sounds]
  • Stella Borrowdale on her first home [a fine focus on family and belonging, with good attention to small things].
  • Grant Fabian with a description of nature [poetic techniques used very well, with strong landscape description].
  • Olive Mui on ‘The Oldest Person I Know’, her grandmother who went through the Chinese Famine [very engaging and original, with a lovely sardonic touch].
  • Cerys Mordaunt imagining meeting up again in 8 years’ time with her friend Polly [excellent attention to detail in this imagining what the transition from adolescence to adulthood might look like].
  • Grace Koch: a story called ‘Alone in the Forest’ [this captured big ideas, and used dialogue very well].

Mrs Donnelly also talked eloquently about the power of English, and how it deals with the most important things in life. She much enjoyed returning to the College, where she worked for two happy years. She also announced the winners of this year’s Premier Awards:

Stella Borrowdale, Delia Brady, Rebekah Fitzgerald Hollywood, Grace Koch, Grace McCarthy, Cerys Mordaunt, Olive Mui, Felix Strigel, Giulia Trolese and Safia Walker.

The long-standing Voices of Poetry event at the end of May provides a pause-point in the year. It is the last major event in the Big Schoolroom, and on a Sunday evening at the end of a busy weekend it gives us all a moment to listen attentively and appreciate great writing.

As always, it featured a mixture of English and other languages. It is remarkable how much one can get out of another language in terms of musicality even if the words are mysterious. Readers did give brief introductions to each of their pieces, and 23 poems were covered in 45 minutes, with Mr Girdham presenting and linking them.

Anton Demenko kicked things off in Ukrainian, followed by an utterly different language from a totally different part of the world: Bibiire Oke-Osanyintolu recited a poem in Yoruba from Nigeria.

The first English poem came from Eoin Siegel – Robert Frost’s famous ‘The Road Taken’, with its resonant final lines 

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.


On the thin grounds that both languages start with the letter ‘I’, but on the more substantial ones that they are both beautifully euphonious, Italian and Irish followed, with four poems intertwined and recited by Anna Luisa Sanminiatelli, Euan Flanagan, Francesco Malacarne and Molly Mann.

Shannon Walker Kinsella chose to read Cassandra Wright’s ‘Clandestine Meeting’, and she was followed by three ‘Iberian’ languages – Spanish (Pedro Olea), South American/Venezuelan Spanish (Manuela Nassief) and Portuguese (Kayra Mbanefo).

Congratulations to Nia Jessup, winner of this year’s Junior Poetry Prize for her touching poem ‘My Love’, about her grandmother, which she read out movingly.

Quite a jump then to one of the most unusual European languages, Hungarian (unconnected to any other, apart from, peculiarly, Finnish), from Gaspar Kekessy and Kasimir zu Bentheim.

And another jump to Mr Swift, who marked his interest in golf by reading out John Updike’s tribute to Payne Stewart, who came to a tragic end in 1999 at the age of 42.

Neighbouring France and Germany came next, with poems read out by Olivia Borbath and Vito Wieser, followed by two major languages from further afield, Arabic (Cecilia Corti) and Mandarin Chinese (Merida Zhang).

English rounded things up: Hal Somerville recited Byron’s dramatic ‘The Destruction of Sennacherib‘ from 1815, followed by the Warden again impressively performing one of his many learnt-poems, Rudyard Kipling’s classic ‘If’. Finally, the awarding of the Peter Dix Memorial Prize for Poetry was marked by the Sub-Warden reading out one of Isabella Treacy’s winning poems from her portfolio. Congratulations to her on winning the prize for three years in a row.

As Mr Girdham said at the end, there is nothing better than catching up with some reading in whatever areas pupils like best. And why not some poetry?

Over the last two weeks, the College has held two fabulous events for Old Columbans, one at the Athenaeum Club in London, attended by over a hundred guests, and the other the annual Grace Cup Lunch, for any Old Columban who left the College over 50 years ago; that event was attended by over 70 Old Columbans.

The latter has become an annual highlight of the College calendar, while the London event will hopefully become an annual event as well. Both events were reminders of the strength of the College community and how much it continues to mean to so many people.

Many thanks to Michael Essame OC for taking the photos below at the Grace Cup Lunch and an album from the London event can be found here.

Well done and congratulations to everyone who took part in this year’s Mountain Race which took place yesterday on Kilmashogue Mountain. Introduced in 2018, to celebrate the College’s long-standing running tradition, this is a now an annual event with the winners being awarded a perpetual trophy engraved with their name. The course follows the Wicklow Way for 4 km, starting in Kilmashogue car park, before returning along the same route and back to the starting point, totalling 8 km (5 miles). We are blessed to have so many wonderful trails around us.

Eighteen runners took part this year. Hughie Casey recorded a hattrick of victories in beating his old record by 27 seconds in an outstandingly fast time of 28 minutes 50 seconds, with Archie McKeever in second place in 31:43.

Two girls beat Thea Clare’s record of 38:03. Oleana Cowan ran the course in 37:37 and Alannah McCoole took the victory in 36:20 beating the old record by 1 minute 43 seconds.

Thanks to Mr Gibbs for driving the bus, Chaplain Owen for taking some great photographs, Mr Duffy for recording the half way stage and Mrs Canning for providing the water and a bucket of recovery jellies.

Friday 17th of May is the 4th time St. Columba’s have run this event. We increased the field to include 4th as well as 5th and 6th class entrants. In total, we had thirty two entrants from nine local schools. The positive energy and excitement was palpable as were some understandable nerves. It was great to see young like minded people playing competitively, sharing a day of fun, camaraderie and competition while making new connections.

The Lionel Munn trophy goes to the combined better ball team of two. This year was again very close with two teams on a combined nine hole gross score of 40 (4 over par). Holy Cross School Dundrum’s team of Taegun Lee and James Cummins won on a final six hole count back from Whitechurch National School’s Alex O’Herlihy and Joshua Cron. Taegun Lee had the day’s best individual gross score of 41 (5 over par).

Scoil Naomi Pádraig Ballyroan’s Ella Byrne won the individual girl’s prize with a 62 gross score and Whitechurch National School’s Alex O’Herlihy’s 42 gross score secured him the individual boy’s prize.

Very well done to all participating schools and players; their parents, accompanying teachers and the well maintained and conditioned St. Columba’s golf course. Thank you also to Kilmashogue Golf Club for facilitating this competition and the use of their clubhouse facilities.

The day would not have been possible without the administrative input of Lorna Wynne, Ian O’Herlihy and our resident PGA professional Josh Adams. The accompanying teachers and parents certainly deserve a mention as they are the ones that take on the tasks of driving, waiting around and supporting their young charges and children. Also thank you to the Warden for presenting the prizes.

Congratulations to the winners of this year’s Form Prizes, based on overall academic performance, including examinations:

  • FIRST FORM: Charlie Dunleavy, Max Heidenfeld, Oyindamola Oni, Marianna O’Shaughnessy.
  • SECOND FORM: Jan-Christian Dijkstra, Grace Lee, Alannah Starbuck, Cora Wheatley, Merida Zhang,
  • THIRD FORM: Lexi Hunter, Ethan Robertson, Jason Wong.
  • FOURTH FORM: Grace Koch, Leire Mayo, Oscar Ryan, Giulia Trolese, Safia Walker.
  • FIFTH FORM: Nooria Nakschbandi, Manuela Nassief, Melina Paulsen, Alison Wang, Lucas Weber.
  • SIXTH FORM: Hannah Bergmann, Elizabeth Hart, Yilong She, Lorne Walsh, Cheuk Yin Wong, Cocu Xu.