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 in Form I make lasting friendships which last 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 “being a junior in Beresford is a great way to experience boarding life, making friends and discovering new things. In boarding life there is always going to be some challenges but in Beresford there’s a certain family element that is genuine and kind. Where your friends and older girls are always looking out for you, as well as the house staff who support in any way they can”.

Beresford accommodates 27 pupils and comprises boarders and day pupils as well as a diverse mix of nationalities.

The Staff involved in Beresford House include the House Mistress Derarca Cullen, Assistant Housemistress Suzanne McEneaney and House Tutors Aoife Thompson and Cathy Boobbyer.

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 boys 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.

Glen is the current holder of the annual House Singing, House Football and House Rugby competitions.

For the coming year Glen has identified homelessness as a pressing concern in Irish society and the boys have nominated the Peter McVerry Trust as their chosen charity. 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 Ashley Kemp and Hein Havinga (House Tutors). The Head of House for 2019 / 2020 is Philip Shekelton (also a College Prefect).

Gwynn is a house that caters for senior boys (boarders, day pupils or day boarders) from Form II to Form VI. The 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 and the day pupils continued to use Garden house. From October 2017 day pupils and day boarders moved to the Masterman Library which is connected to Founders’. In the Masterman every day pupil or day boarder has a spacious locker for their academic and sports belongings. There is a changing and showering area and a large work space.

Gwynn is a very traditional boarding environment with five dorms, each with 5 beds. The dorms are spacious and every boy has a work space with ample storage for clothing, books & belongings. Generally, each dorm contains pupils from the same Form. There is one common room in 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.

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. Day pupils and day boarders are encouraged to spend time in the boarding house and many enjoy staying late on Saturday evenings to socialise.

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 are 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 & futures – with Rights come responsibilities.
  • Keep areas tidy develop self discipline work ethic effort marks 
  • E is for Empathy 
  • Empathy
  • 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, team work and the importance of encouraging others
  • C is for Characterwe ask people to consider how their actions or lack of actions can impact on others & 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), Peter McCarthy, Chris Maye (House Tutors). The Head of House for 2019 / 202o is Sakhile Khumalo (also a College Prefect).

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 use 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 currently is the home to 28 boarding pupils and ten day pupils.  It has four house staff attached to it, all 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. O’Shaughnessy from 2019.

The Stackallan Team

The Housemaster of Stackallan is Mr. Michael O’Shaughnessy, who also teachs French and Spanish, and leads university applications. He is assisted by Mr. Humphrey Jones, also Head of Biology, while Mr. Keith Ryan is the resident House Tutor. Mr. Patrick Tice is a non-resident House Tutor, and teachs some English and Classical Studies. He is a past pupil of the College and a former member of Stackallan House.

The Head of House for 2019 / 2020 is Edward Fizgibbon.

Named after the original main building on campus (where it was first situated), Hollypark is the oldest and largest of our girls’ boarding houses. It moved to the Grange Building in 2004 and enjoys stunning views over the city. It comprises 12 dormitories, varying in size, housing 52 Form II – Form VI 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 pupils are encouraged to become fully integrated into house life, sharing the common space with their peers while also enjoying their own dedicated facilities.

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

As a house we have chosen to support Crumlin Childrens’ Hospital as our House Charity  in 2018-18. It is a charity the girls are all familiar with and have a personal affection towards. All money raised will be given directly to the Cystic Fibrosis Unit to support research and fund much-needed equipment for the team.

The house team consists of Ms. Julie Robinson (Housemistress), Ms. Lisa Lynch (Assistant Housemistress), Mrs Jean Morley and Caroline Finn (House Tutors). The Head of House for 2019 / 2020 is Margot Aleixandre.

Iona is a boarding house for Senior Girls from Forms II to VI. Currently there are 46 girls in the house, both boardings, day boarders and day pupils. 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.

Iona have chosen to support the Deaf and Dumb School in Sicuani, Peru (once visited by Mrs Sherwood) as their charity for this academic year. The school is run by two Carmelite nuns  and receives no funding from government and are therefore totally depends on donations. Iona are also having a knitting club during activities, knitting hats and scarves for orphans in Eastern Europe.

The Iona team consist of Mrs Donna Sherwood (Housemistress), Dr. Laura Rice (Assistant Housemistress), Mrs. Justyna O’Shaughnessy and Ms Grace Mullane (House Tutors). The Head of House for 2019 / 2020 is Anna Philippa Wedemeyer. The Senior Prefect, Megan Bulbulia, is also a member of Iona.

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), Mr. William Gibbs and Graham Glutz (House Tutors). The Head of House for 2019/2020 is Han Neuger.

Day Pupils & Day Boarders

Day pupils and day boarders are fully integrated into the different houses and participate fully in the life of the community (day boarders remain at school until the end of the evening study, and day pupils go home at about 5.30 pm). 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