Yesterday Primary to Third Form had a fascinating morning with fantasy fiction writer Ruth Long (pictured with Jean our Librarian). It was a real insight into the mind of a writer and the process that a writer goes through to create a novel.

In the afternoon senior artists were treated to a visit to the Stoney Road studio in Dublin (see photos from the visit on our Facebook page here). It was a chance to observe the incredible skill involved in the print making process. Head of Art, Mr Watts is certainly now considering taking up print making in his retirement.

Today we have had both poetry workshops and electro pop workshops. Old Columban, Caroline O’ Neill, together with Cian spent the day working with a group of Fourth Form on producing their own music digitally. They shared the loops they had created at the Open Mic night. Mr Swift kicked off the evening with a song he had written followed by the talented James O’Connor also singing one of his own works.

Jasper Bark, performance poet and novelist surprised pupils in chapel with an unexpected promenade performance of one of his own poems. He went on to spend the morning first with second and then fifth form working on performing either poems they had written or ones they had chosen in preparation for the Poetry Slam competition on Friday night.

All in all a busy day.

Arts week kicked off yesterday with Thibault Loiez (former French teacher) returning to spend the afternoon doing caricatures of pupils. These will be strung up across the dining hall from tomorrow.

Sadly the opening of the Guest Artist exhibition scheduled for Monday night had to be cancelled as the snow meant no-one could get up to St Columba’s to hang the work on Thursday and Friday. We hope to put the exhibition on in May instead.

Today we had a fantastic day. Primary and First Form spent part of their morning with artist and astronomer, Deidre Kelleghan, learning more about the Apollo moon landing. Then on black paper with chalk pastels and using a couple of images as inspiration, they produced some wonderful drawings.

While this was going on we had eighty children from four primary schools arriving to take part in the Primary Schools Choral Day. They spent the day learning various everything from Shosholoza (a song in Zulu from South Africa) to a ‘mash up of some well known pop songs! The day finished with a fabulous concert featuring the visiting schools, our Junior Choir, Sine Nomine, various soloists and our male staff a capella quartet. A big thank you to Eunan MacDonald.

Our Fourth Form art students students enjoyed a workshop with one of the Stoney Road print makers.

Tomorrow (Wednesday) we host fantasy author Ruth Long who will share her work with Primary, First and Second years. We have the rescheduled concert with Mr McCarthy on the piano and Mr Finn singing in the Cadogan at 6.30pm. There is also a visit for senior pupil artists to Stoney Road print studios during the afternoon.

Despite the snowy weekend which put a bit of a dampener on the start of Arts Week things have definitely revved up!

Below are a selection of photos from the week’s events, which will update frequently as new photos are added.

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.

This year’s Staff and Pupils’ concert on the evening of Sunday 21st January featured slightly fewer performers than previously, thanks to the ‘bug’ which had depleted numbers in the school. But it was a real tonic for the spirits, with ten performances of high-quality musicianship. Mrs Malone-Brady in her introduction pointed out that duets featured strongly this year, and that playing with someone else was a great way to learn, while having fun in the process.

However, solos started and ended the concert. The first was from Sixth Former Hector Wright, who sang the perennial South Pacific favourite “Some Enchanted Evening”, followed by singing teacher Edel Shannon’s version of “Till there was you” from The Music Man. Her confidence and expressiveness were a good example of the value of pupils learning from their teachers how to perform for an audience. Two pupils followed: Charlotte Klingmann (IV) played Danzi’s Variations on Mozart’s “La ci darem la mano” with lovely consistency of tone, and Aurora Higgins Jennings (III) accompanied herself singing ‘Wishing You Were Here” from The Phantom of the Opera with a great sense of mood.

Then the duets took over, starting with Edel Shannon and another singing teacher, Anna Brady, who delivered the popular “Flower Duet” by Delibes with aplomb. The Transition Year group had been hit by illness, but Alan Grundy on the guitar accompanied Charlotte Klingmann, Josepha Westphalen and Sakhile Khumalo (with a particularly pleasing light voice leading the line) for “Horse with No Name”. Mrs Malone-Brady then explained piano duets, and with Anna Brady gave familial performances of Schubert’s “Serenade” and a Hungarian dance by Brahms. The final duets featured Alan Grundy (by far our longest-serving music teacher) with Ann Murnaghan in a guitar/’cello combination, including a ‘world premiere’ performance of Alan’s own lively piece named after a Homer Simpson quotation: “This is not my fault. It was like that when I got here”.

The finale was provided by Anna Brady, with an hilarious performance of Adelaide’s aria from Jonathan Dove’s 2006 opera The Enchanted Pig (“I want shine! I want bling!”) – an excellent way to polish off another highly enjoyable concert.

Abigail O Brien, Transition Year, reports on the upcoming Art Exhibition of the work produced for the Junior Certificate 2017

Last year 23 pupils in 3rd Form completed the Junior Certificate Art Project. Each of us had to put together a number of finished art pieces. The  themes we worked on ranged from sharks to space travel. However, a major part of the project also required that we show our preparatory sketches and brainstorming, alongside explanations of our individual thought processes.

The course is pretty straightforward – we had to make a 3D construction or sculpture, a painting or graphic design, and an optional third craft piece (calligraphy, puppetry, batique, a lino cut, and a host of other things). The challenge came in trying to complete all of this work in the time frame and to a standard which was strong enough.

A big part of the project was to show how our ideas developed over time. The big difference between this project and sitting a one hour portrait exam is that your ideas have a lot more time to evolve and grow. Despite drawing inspiration from a common theme throughout the three pieces, many of us were surprised at how varied the results were. In addition to the project we had to do a drawing exam.  We had a model sit for us  while we drew them and we also had to choose an object from a set list to draw. We were given an hour for both.

All of us worked well over the year and were all happy with our results. I think it was a very good experience and an opportunity to express our ideas.

This coming Sunday December 10th, there will be an opportunity to view our work as it will be displayed in the BSR for all to see after the evening Carol Service. We hope that you can make it!

Here are a small selection of pieces on display.

Portrait paining by Abigail O’Brien

Poster design by Andrew Kim

Batique craft by Sophia Cole

This year’s major drama production is the perennially-popular Rodgers and Hammerstein 1943 musical Oklahoma! Rehearsals have been going on for many weeks now, and they culminate in performances shortly. The details are below. All performances start at 7pm in the Big Schoolroom, and last approximately 1 hour 45 minutes (including a short interval).

Tickets are not issued, and there is no charge for entry, but parents and their guests are advised that seats cannot be guaranteed on Friday and Saturday evenings after the times indicated.

On Saturday evening parents and families are welcome to come to a have a drink with the Warden at 6pm in the Drawing Room.


Thursday 16th November: preview

  • Attendance: all Primary and First Form, including day pupils. No external visitors.

Friday 17th November: first performance

  • Attendance: all Second Form; all remaining day boys and girls; all those taking standard overnight exeats on Saturday evening.
  • Parents and guests are welcome, but are advised to be seated by 6.45pm.

Saturday 18th November: second performance

  • Attendance: all remaining boarders, and P/I/II boarders who wish to see the musical for a second time.
  • Parents and guests are welcome, but are advised to be seated by 6.40pm.


St. Columba’s College, being a seven day boarding school, organises a wide range of Saturday evening and Sunday events for their boarders (and indeed day pupils) and last weekend was no exception. On Saturday the College welcomed Old Columbans who left the College in 1997, for their 20 year reunion. It was great to see so many familiar faces back in the College. On the games field the Senior Boys Development Rugby XV took on Wesley’s equivalent, in their first game of the season. All members of the squad played during the fixture but, alas, the visiting Wesley side took the win 29-20, after two tries apiece from Max Hopkins & Hector Wright. Later that evening classical guitarist Pat Coldrick performed an excellent concert for pupils and staff in the Big School Room (BSR). It was a wonderful event, with the BSR’s excellent acoustics making Pat’s music sound wonderful.

On Sunday morning a small but dedicated group of Transition Year pupils joined Mr. O’Shaughnessy and Mr. Coldrick for an early morning walk to the Hell Fire Club – an infamous ruin at the top of Moutpelier Hill in the Dublin Mountains. Normally walkers are treated to a stunning view of Dublin City but, unfortunately, early morning fog ruined the view but did add to the eery feeling in one of Dublin’s most famous haunted houses. Later that afternoon over twenty Transition Year pupils (pictured above) joined Ms. Hennessy for the annual ‘An Taisce Clean Coasts‘ beach clean, on sunny Seapoint Strand in South Dublin. The pupils picked up and recorded the litter on the beach while enjoying the mid-day sun.

Many thanks to all the pupils and staff who contributed to a great weekend of activities. For some more photographs of the weekend’s activities visit the College’s Facebook page.

We were promised entertainment, we were promised variety and we got both in abundance last night in the BSR. Nineteen ‘acts’ performed, ranging from dance to guitar, duets to choirs, piano solos to rock bands, all showing off their talents to the appreciative audience. An evening which was in the best traditions of entertaining and supporting each other. A tremendous show organised by Mrs Malone Brady and her assistants. Well done to all concerned. The participants were:

1) The orchestra

2) Henry zu Rantzau (voice)

3) Emma Hinde (guitar)

4) Aurora Higgins Jennings (piano and voice)

5) Nicole Dickerson and Anna Janssen Heidenfeld (duet)

6) Sine Nomine choir

7) Imogen Casey and Phoebe Grennell (duet)

8) Songyon Oh (dance)

9) Aifo Ebelghe, Nicole Dickerson, Nevin McCone, Ciara Gumsheimer, Mona Lamotte (song)

10) Alexandra Malone and Aurora Higgins Jennings (piano and voice)

11) Ferdinand Kuehne and Anton Tapking (trumpet)

12) Tania Stokes (cello)

13) Ralph Sweetman Sutton (voice)

14) Ciara Gumsheimer, Robyn Brady, Aisha Burke, Maria Herrero

15) Andre Stokes (violin)

16) Anna Laurenceau and Mona Lamotte (voice and guitar)

17) Ciara Gumsheimer (piano)

18) Rock Band – Ross Magill, Toby Green, Sakhile Khumalo, Nevin McCone, André Stokes and Alex Russell.

Many thanks to Henry zu Rantzau for the video clips which can been viewed here.

There is a tremendous variety of activities on show in our annual Arts Week, which this year runs from Monday 20th to the evening of Sunday 26th. See below for a day-by-day outline.

Monday 20th March

Look Up, Look Forward, Look Out with James Shone 8.30 am (pupils) and 7.00pm (for parents and friends) with James Shone. Venues: BSR in the morning and the Drawing Room in the evening

11.45am: Dancersize, Sports Hall, 11.45 am Form IV

1.20pm: everyone and anyone, including staff.

6.30pm  French Theatre for Schools, BSR, I/II/III.


Tuesday 21st March

10.30am : Instituto Cervantes trip for Form IV Spanish pupils.

3pm:  Primary Schools Choral Day concert, Chapel (P, I, II).

Emily Archer workshop, Art Centre, Second Form art pupils

6.30pm  (Drinks and Dinner);  8.oopm  Lecture (VI, V art pupils). Opening of Hector McDonnell exhibition, Whitehall & Lower Argyle.

7pm,  Flamenco Dance Workshop, BSR, Fourth Form.


Wednesday 22nd March

8.10am, Art and Social Conscience with Hector McDonnell, Chapel

Wednesday, Thursday, Friday: Second Form Actiontrack drama workshops, BSR, during class-time.

Morning: Art Workshop with Hector McDonnell for Form V and VI, Art Centre

Lunchtime:  Speaker’s Corner, Chapel Square

8pm, Guitar Recital with Shane Hennessey, Chapel


Thursday 23rd March

Morning: Poetry Slam with Jasper Bark (pictured) (different times for P, I/IV), Library. [CANCELLED]

Morning: Photographic Workshop with Erin Quinn, Art Centre

VI and V art pupils to exhibitions of Caravaggio at NGI and Lucien Freud at IMMA.

8pm, ‘William Trevor Remembered’, BSR, with Joseph O’Connor and Julian Girdham – talks and readings. Reception in Whitehall for visitors afterwards.


Friday 24th March

Morning: Poetry Slam with Jasper Bark (different times for P, I/IV), Library. [CANCELLED]

7pm, Poetry Slam Competition Final, BSR (P to IV) and performance by Jasper Bark [CANCELLED]


Saturday 25th March

8.15pm, Art Prizes Evening  with Mick O’ Dea, president of the Royal Hibernian Academy, BSR.


Sunday 26th March

8pm: Music Recitals and Music Prizes Evening, BSR, with adjudicator Margaret O’Sullivan Farrell.

Activities that will be running through the week

WE ARE UNIQUE – drop into the Science Lab and create your unique handprint for display.

Fifth and Sixth Form  art pupils will reconstruct a figurative painting of their choice from their course work which will be photographed and displayed during the week.

The annual Junior Play production this year is, like last year’s, actually two (short) plays, both about expectations being turned upside down.

The first is a gentle comedy by Irish writer Lennox Robinson (1886-1958), author of the 2015 production Drama at Inish, Crabbed Youth and Age (1924). The story centres on three young women, who are dismayed that gentlemen visiting their house are rather more interested in their mother than themselves. The performers are Grace Goulding, Lucy Maher, Aurora Higgins Jennings, Ellen Homan, Matthew Keaveney, Fintan Walsh and Harry Oke-Osanyintolu.

Entirely different is The Virtuous Burglar, a hectic farce by the Italian writer Dario Fo (pictured), who died last year at the age of 90. He won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1997, and is best known for Can’t Pay Won’t Pay and The Accidental Death of an Anarchist. The Virtuous Burglar (1958) was his second play, and features an hilarious scathing vision of the middle classes when their amorous arrangements are thrown into disarray by a visiting burglar. The performers in this are Ross Magill, Casper v d Schuelenberg, Catherine Butt, Isabelle Townshend, Maybelle Rainey, Toby Green and Ailbhe Matthews.

The performances are on Friday 10th and Saturday 12th February in the Big Schoolroom starting at 7pm, and ending at about 8.30pm. There is no charge for entry and no booking is required. Visitors should note that entry is via the lower door only (the main door on Chapel Square will be blocked off).

The annual staff and pupils’ concert is by now a very pleasant fixture in the calendar, cheering dark January days with a variety of excellent music-making. As Mrs Malone-Brady said at this year’s concert, on Sunday 22nd January, it is also an opportunity for all to hear some of their music teachers performing, and show what standards they can aspire to. The opportunities are there on a plate for pupils here, while they will not be in their future lives, and they should grab these.

This year an innovation was the fine first performance by an ensemble (on its way to becoming an orchestra?) under the tight direction of Michelle O’Reilly: flute, clarinet, oboe, saxophone, piano, violin and drums were represented in ‘My heart will go on’ and the theme tune from Pirates of the Caribbean. They were followed by a variety of excellent pupil soloists, including Aurora Higgins Jennings (accompanying on piano her own version of Adele’s ‘Make you feel my love’), Nicole Dickerson (singing Handel’s ‘Lascia ch’io pianga’), Aleksandra Murphy (Handel again, this time on flute), Tania Stokes (‘Irish Lament’ on the ‘cello), and Heinrich zu Rantzau, who to the acclaim of the audience sang ‘Cockles and Muscles’. Brothers Alex and Sam Lawrence, who presumably have plenty of opportunity to practise at home, gave us their jazzy version of ‘Bye Bye Blackbird’ on piano and saxophone respectively.

The first music teacher to perform, with her characteristic expressiveness, was Anna Brady, last year’s Gala Concert star, with Bellini’s ‘Vaga Luna’. Later we had by far the longest-serving member of the music staff, Alan Grundy, with two superb renditions: ‘My Funny Valentine’ and a ‘rowdy’ (his word) flamenco piece. Another favourite local performer, Mr Swift, took to the stage to sing ‘Southern Man’ by Neil Young (as he said, one of the few popular music greats to survive 2016), and then accompanied the smoky-voiced Aisha Burke on James Bay’s ‘Let it go’. Mairéad Buicke, another former Gala Concert star, sang Ivor Novello’s ‘We’ll gather lilacs’ beautifully. Michelle O’Reilly returned to take part in the flute quartet alongside pupils Josephine Krieger, Maria Weinrautner and Aleksandra Murphy with ‘Somewhere over the rainbow’.

Back to the pupils: Mona Lamotte O’Carroll and Aifo Ebeleghe, accompanied by Alex Russell, gave a strong performance of Passenger’s ‘Let her go’. André Stokes successfully took on the beautiful and demanding Mendelssohn Violin Concerto slow movement. Two Sixth Formers and regular BSR performers rounded off the pupils’ contributions: Max Hillery singing ‘My Way’ in his own distinctive way, and Ciara Gumsheimer confidently giving us ‘Humoresque’ by the Czech composer Dussek on the piano.

As a final treat, Anna Brady and Mairéad Buicke sang the great duet from The Marriage of Figaro, ‘Sull’ Aria’, which as Mrs Malone-Brady said in her introduction many would recognise from the film The Shawshank Redemption, and an image of how music can raise our spirits and lift us from the everyday world, ‘making our hearts big’. It was an appropriate way to end yet another impressive concert in the Big Schoolroom. Many thanks to Mrs Malone-Brady on putting together the occasion, and often accompanying, as well as to the teachers and pupils who performed.

Yesterday on Remembrance Sunday, the Chaplain, Rev Daniel Owen led the service broadcast from the RTE studios. The Chapel choir, directed by Mrs Malone Brady, played a major part singing Hewson’s ‘Let us now praise famous men’, Bach’s ‘Sheep may safely graze’ and Hutchings’ ‘We will remember them‘ plus several hymns. The service may be seen on RTE player here.

On Sunday evening Forms P and I were the first up on stage with ‘Bed and Breakfast’. A weird collection of guests come and go, causing consternation to the host and hostess. The Form II play was an adaptation of the well-known children’s spooky character The Gruffalo. All participants played their part to the full, giving great enjoyment to all. Congratulations to Mr Patterson and Mr O’Shaughnessy (Form P and I) and Mr Jones and Ms Harrahill (Form II) as directors, to Sasha Konopleva who helped with the make-up and to the pupils themselves who showed great promise. Well done to all.

Check out the photo album here.

Form P and I:James Noble, Avi Johnston, Edna Johnston, Alexander Hinde, Emma Hinde, Nikolai Foster, Guy Fitzgibbon, Caleb Owen.

Form II: Éile Ní Chianáin, Oliver Townshend, Alannah Hassett, Ailbhe Matthews, Charlotte Moffitt, Aurora Higgins, Imogen Casey, Diego Casasus.

The Reverend B.W.N. Walsh Memorial Concert was held last night in the Chapel to mark the Walsh Fund for restoring the organ. It was a superb evening of high-class music-making, particularly by the ‘headline act’, the Old Columban Colm Carey.  Click here for some photographs.

The large audience was welcomed by the Sub-Warden, Julian Girdham, who thanked all subscribers to the Fund, including the Walsh family, who were well-represented. Then former Chaplain Michael Heaney gave a tribute to his predecessor ‘Bert’, a much-loved long-serving colleague, who as well as being Chaplain and a teacher of Religious Studies was a distinguished Head of the Irish Department.

Then the concert began. Currently Master of Music of the Chapels Royal, HM Tower of London, Colm Carey started his career on the organ as a teenager in our Chapel under David Milne and Chris Jenkins, and has gone on to an impressive performing and recording career. His complete mastery of the instrument was obvious from the opening piece, a spectacular delivery of Egil Hovland’s Toccata, ‘Now thank we all our God’.  Angela Hicks (soprano) sang exquisitely throughout the concert, including a stunningly controlled version of Schubert’s Litanei auf das Fest ‘Aller Seelen’ and the engaging love song ‘Sweeter than Roses’ by Purcell.

The choir, who in December travel to Amsterdam to perform in several venues, gave us Bach’s ‘Sheep May Safely Graze’, and Mozart’s beautiful ‘Laudate Dominum’ in support of Angela Hicks.

Colm Carey’s virtuosic skills were in evidence in a wonderfully varied programme, the rest of which included pieces by Locklair, Hakim and Karg-Elert, and a memorable Durufle ‘Veni Creator’, with plainsong intervals by Angela Hicks.

The concert concluded with the choir’s resounding rendition of George Hewson’s “Let us Now Praise Famous Men'”. The standing ovation for organist and soloist at the end was thoroughly deserved. It was a superb evening, and a deserved tribute to Reverend Walsh, and is now memorialised by a new brass plaque on the organ casing.

Refreshments and chat were enjoyed by all in the Big Schoolroom afterwards.