Boarding at St. Columba’s College

The great majority of our pupils board at the College. We are a seven-day boarding school, with classes on Saturday mornings and a full set of events and activities over the weekends. Now find out more about boarding at St. Columba’s and explore our seven boarding houses.

Why Boarding?

For families who have not traditionally sent their children to boarding school the very idea might seem very alien. Here are some reasons why boarding might be an attractive option for your children:

  • Boarding enhances independence and allows young people to make some of their own decisions.
  • Boarders stay together in dormitories, where they learn to live with each other, appreciating each other’s differences, strengths and weaknesses. This is great preparation for life after school and in the workplace.
  • Boarding creates very close bonds of friendship which often survive all through one’s life.
  • Boarding gives maximum time for sports and activities, as time is not wasted in travelling to and fro. This means that parents do not need to spend excessive time in the car twice every day taking children to and from school and then to clubs and music lessons after school and at weekends.
  • In many families both parents are working late throughout the week and time spent at home with children is often rushed and of limited quality.
  • Children do all their academic work at school, in a supervised environment, rather than at home where there can be distractions from TV and computers and battles over how much work is being done. Don’t you like the idea of not fighting with your children over homework every evening?

Why Board at St. Columba’s?

Fundamental to our community at St Columba’s is our commitment to full boarding. We do have local day pupils, but over 80% of our pupils are seven-day boarders. Visitors are quickly struck by the friendly atmosphere between staff and pupils, and among pupils themselves, and our small size ensures that all members of the College are known to each other.

  • Columba’s does have day pupils but is fundamentally a boarding school. It is not a day school with a few boarders tacked on, with the majority of the school going home after school each day. Most Irish ‘boarding’ schools actually have a large majority of day pupils.
  • Columba’s boarding is seven days a week, with Saturday school and chapel on Sunday. Boarders here are not left on their own if they stay in for the weekend since most of the boarders are in every Saturday night.
  • Not just our boarding staff but the majority of all of our teaching staff live on site with their families, creating a unique sense of community throughout the week, in evenings and at weekends.
  • Our boarding staff are all teachers, not separate staff or gap students. This means that our staff see their charges in all aspects of their lives, in the classroom and on the games field.
  • Our facilities are excellent and the campus is very beautiful, with wonderful views of Dublin and on the edge of the Dublin Hills.

Boarding Houses

The Beresford girls live in a beautiful Georgian building which was originally a family home. It is now the heartbeat of the College and known as the main college building. It is made up of the main staff area, offices, the boarding house itself as well as being right beside the dining hall!

Beresford House provides a cosy homely atmosphere for the youngest girls in the College. Girls in Form I live along with a group of about twelve Form V and VI girls. The girls entering Form I make lasting friendships that continue to grow throughout their school days and beyond.

The senior pupils play a vital role in helping to integrate the junior girls.

In the words of one Form I pupil, “ My time spent in Beresford allowed me to be part of a new family. I was apprehensive about boarding life but the atmosphere was always so comforting and made me feel at home. Of course, every school year is going to have their ups and downs but the older girls and house staff made issues much easier and less of a struggle. Everybody in the house was always so supportive of you.”

Day pupils are an integral part of the House. A day pupil writes, “ We always felt included. The day pupils were always made to feel welcome and were invited to participate in many fun activities such as having take-away food and coming up on weekends to visit. I really appreciated that if you had any issues you could go to the house staff and even the senior girls. The senior girls were very kind to us.”

Beresford accommodates 32 pupils and comprises boarders and day pupils as well as a diverse mix of nationalities.

The Staff involved in Beresford House includes the House Mistress Derarca Cullen, Assistant Housemistress Megan Fitzpatrick, and House Tutors Emma Patterson and Cathy Boobbyer.

Founded in September 2021, Clonard is one of two dedicated houses for day pupils. All day girls are allocated to Clonard, named after the monastery where Columba trained, which is overseen by Housemistress Karen Hennessy, Assistant Housemistress Clotilde de Frein and Lynn Murphy as the House Tutor.

This is a historic moment for St Columba’s College, the opening of the first day houses for boys and girls, and we are confident that these houses will integrate seamlessly into our wonderful and supportive community. Together with Ms. Hennessey and Ms. de Fréin, I am very excited about the new house set up and we are sure that it will improve the experience for the day girls, as they will have their own space in the heart of the College. My hope is that Clonard will be a warm and welcoming house, a peaceful but fun place, that will help the girls to fully participate and enjoy the busy daily life here at St. Columba’s. 

 The experience of being part of a house builds friendships that last a lifetime. It teaches pupils how to empathise, how to motivate, how to lead, and how to play their part in the College community. Clonard looks forward to being part of the existing atmosphere of healthy competition between the houses, which is encouraged and celebrated through inter-house competitions in sport, general knowledge, and singing. 

 I expect that there will be a great buzz about the house and the feeling of being part of a community within such a busy environment will be a special one.

Glen is the oldest house in the College and is the largest boys’ boarding House, catering for pupils from Form II to Form VI. It is named after the Glen stream which flowed down from Kilmashogue Mountain through the school property. The House has had several homes through the decades in various buildings. In 2004 Glen was amalgamated with Grange and moved to its current location, the Grange building (which it shares with Hollypark House), and which also includes four classrooms.

There are 52 beds in Glen in dorms of either two, four or six berths. There are four common rooms with kitchen facilities. Day boarders have an area for their academic belongings and a changing and showering area for games. The House ‘hub’ area is a central point for informal meetings between boys and house staff where notices are posted, where Glen Artist-in-Residence pieces are displayed and where a cup of tea and a chat can be enjoyed of an evening.

Our house motto, Lag Not in Zeal is taken from a Romans XII, a text read twice annually in the College – on the first day of the school year and on St. Columba’s Day.

The Glen staff team currently comprises Mr. Ronan Swift (Housemaster), Mr. Barry Finn (Assistant Housemaster), Mr. Hein Havinga and Mr Kieran Kirwan (House Tutors).

History of Gwynn House

Gwynn house is named after the Reverend Gwynn who was the Chaplain and Acting Warden during his time at St. Columba’s. The house has been situated in a variety of locations over the years. In 2004 Gwynn boarders moved from Garden House to the Founders’ Building.

Number of pupils in Gwynn

Gwynn is a house that caters for senior boys (28 boarders) from Form II to Form VI.

Facilities for boarders

Gwynn is a very traditional boarding environment with six dorms, five with 5 beds and one with 3. The dorms are spacious and every boy has a workspace with ample storage for clothing, books & belongings. Generally, each dorm contains pupils from the same Form. There is a common room in the masterman library attached to the house with kitchen facilities and a kitchenette for the senior pupils at the senior end of the house. The common room is used by all forms. It is used for house meetings, celebrating birthdays, watching TV and chilling out.

Interaction between pupils

All of the pupils in the house regardless of form get to know each other very well. There is a very friendly and homely feel to Gwynn as it is smaller than some of the other houses.

Interhouse competitions

Gwynn has a proud tradition of doing well at all of the inter-House competitions such as Rugby sevens, Football, Cricket, Debating, Singing, Hockey, Choir, Drama & Academics.


For the coming year, Gwynn has chosen Team Hope as their charity. Every year the Gwynn boys help to pack gift-wrapped shoeboxes with toys, sweets and gifts for children in Africa and Eastern Europe. Team Hope is also involved in water filter projects, clothing, housing, medical and educational projects.


Our house motto is RESPECT. If everyone in the house (staff and pupils) treat each other with the level of RESPECT that we would like to be treated with, then we will reap what we sow.

R.E.S.P.E.C.T is an acronym for

  • R is for Responsibility – we encourage boys to take responsibility for their own actions (self-discipline and work ethic) & futures – with Rights come responsibilities.

  • E is for Empathy – we ask people to consider how their actions or lack of actions can impact on others.

  • S is for Support – we recommend that pupils ask for support from staff, parents, peers, their faith and that they support others

  • P is for Positivity – we ask pupils to be positive and proactive with a good sense of humour especially when things don’t go as planned

  • E is for Encouragement – we try to promote positivity, teamwork and the importance of encouraging others

  • C is for Character–  we help pupils to realise that their actions become habits, their habits become their lifestyle and that shapes their character

  • T is for Truth – being honest with others and with oneself is an essential ingredient in a successful life


The Gwynn staff team currently comprises Paul Cron (Housemaster), Tristan Clarke (Assistant Housemaster), Cormac Brady and Dylan Stewart (House Assistants).

Named after the original and main building on campus, Hollypark is the largest of our Girls’ boarding houses. It opened in 2004 and enjoys stunning views over the city.

It comprises of 12 dormitories, varying in size, housing 52 Form 2 – Form 6 boarder girls. Each form has their own common room, complete with mini kitchen and there is plenty of communal space around the house for us all to get together for social events. Our day boarders are encouraged to become fully integrated into house life sharing the common space with their peers whilst also enjoying their own dedicated facilities.

Life within the house involves all forms mixing together with the older girls representing excellent role models. We foster responsibility, acceptance and a caring atmosphere, which in turn provides a stimulating environment for the girls to learn.

The house team consists of Julie Robinson  (Housemistress), Lisa Lynch (Assistant Housemistress)  Caroline Finn & Megan Carey (House Tutors).

Julie Robinson joined the staff of St Columba’s in 2002 as a Mathematics teacher. She immediately involved herself in boarding life as a house tutor in Hollypark. In 2003 she became a House Assistant before stepping up to Housemistress in 2016. She lives with her husband Ian (also a member of the teaching staff) and son Alex in an adjoining house to Hollypark.

Iona is a boarding house for Senior Girls from Forms II to VI. Currently there are 46 girls in the house. The house was established in 1994 with Mrs Sherwood appointed as the first housemistress. Iona is located in the Fellows Building, which once was home to the now defunct Grange Boarding House.

The Iona team consist of Mrs Donna Sherwood (Housemistress), Dr Sarah Brusey (Assistant Housemaster), Dr. Justyna Pyz and Mrs Lisa Carey (House Tutors)

Kilmashogue house was established in September 2021 and is for Day boys in Form II to Form VI. Named after the mountain that sits above the College, Kilmashogue is home to around 40 boys every year.

The Senior boys act as monitors, just like in the boarding houses and play a key role in helping the boys grow and mature into young men.

Garden House has been altered and refurbished over the past few years to create a space for the boys to relax and change in that is located in the heart of the school.
The boys engage in all aspects of College life, particularly the House Football and House Singing competitions. The Housemaster of Kilmashogue is Mr Peter Stevenson who is assisted by Mr Ian O’Herlihy and the Rev. Owen.

The name Stackallan resonates with the very origin of our unique pioneering school St.Columba’s College in 1843 and its original location in Stackallan House located in the north of County Meath. The name Stackallan is derived from the Irish Teach Challáin, the house of Saint Callan. Saint Callan was an Irish saint of the sixth century, famed for having his adversaries turned into stones. This is not an ability the current House staff possess for pastoral or disciplinary purposes!

The College relocated to its current location in 1849. The ‘House system’ in its modern sense was introduced by Warden C. W. Sowby in 1934 and in 1939 a new Boarding House called Stackallan was created. It was located in the Argyle building until 1973 when it moved into the Cadogan building.

In 2006 during the most recent phase of College building, Stackallan House reversed the trend of westward movement and returned to the Argyle building. The House now occupies the Upper and Middle Argyle building right in the geographical heart and centre of the College. In real terms, this means above the Dining Hall and close to Cloisters and Chapel, saving valuable walking minutes during the working day.

Stackallan House is currently home to 28 boarding pupils from Forms II to VI and four day pupils.  It has four House staff attached to it, three of whom live on campus. It has a reputation for traditional values of honesty and integrity, and full involvement in all areas of college life: sport, music, drama and volunteering for charitable works.

The House has had four Housemasters since 1955: N. H. Lush 1955-1980; N. F. D. Falkiner, 1980-1997, L. J. Canning 1997-2019 and M. E. O’Shaughnessy from 2019.

The Stackallan Team

The Housemaster of Stackallan is Mr. Michael O’Shaughnessy, who teaches Spanish and French and leads university applications. He is assisted by Mr. Humphrey Jones, also Head of Biology & Guidance Counsellor, while Mr. Keith Ryan is the resident House Tutor and Head of the Special Educational Needs department. Gareth McNamara, a member of the sports coaching staff, is a non-resident House Tutor. 

The Head of House for 2023/2024 is Christopher Atkins.

Tibradden House is located at the heart of the campus and is home to our youngest boys (Form I) with some old pupils acting as monitors, assisting the House Staff on a daily basis.

The Tibradden House staff consists of Mr. Scott Crombie (Housemaster), Mr. Sean Duffy (Assistant Housemaster), Dr. Fergus Robson and Graham Glutz (House Tutors). The Head of House for 2023 / 2024 is Joon Schultheis.

Day Pupils & Day Boarders

Day pupils and day boarders are fully integrated into College life. Day Pupils are based in their own dedicated houses – Kilmashogue for boys and Clonard for girls – while Day Boarders, who spend the evenings in the College also, are placed within either Glen or Hollypark. Day Pupils at St. Columba’s can appreciate all the benefits of a boarding education but go home to sleep every evening. We find that many pupils who begin their time at the College as day pupils enjoy life here so much that they move in to board at a later date.

Housemasters & Housemistresses

  • Donna Sherwood, Iona

  • Derarca Cullen, Beresford

  • Paul Cron, Gwynn

  • Ronan Swift, Glen

  • Julie Robinson, Hollypark

  • Scott Crombie, Tibradden

  • Michael O’Shaughnessy, Stackallan

  • Sonia Owen, Clonard

  • Peter Stevenson, Kilmashogue

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