At last, after many months, we are ready to welcome almost 340 pupils back (some, of course, for the first time) to the College campus in the coming days. These months have been strange for everyone, but we are truly looking forward to re-establishing some sense of normality: to excited friends meeting up again after such a long time, to classes resuming in physical classrooms, to the buzz and movement of a busy school around a beautiful campus, to pupils making the most of the outdoor exercise opportunities here.

Enormous efforts have gone on in recent months by the Bursar and her team to prepare everything according to the best safety standards. Pupils will see the signs and arrows we are all familiar with now, in all public places, and some of the standard procedures of daily life (like meals and class routines) will be altered for a while, but much is unaltered, and we hope that as the year goes on we can gradually restore things like sports’ matches and major College events.

First Form pupils, who of course missed the rituals of leaving their Primary schools, arrive for a relaxed introduction to the campus on Tuesday afternoon; other new pupils come on Wednesday afternoon, with returning boarders that evening (they should not arrive before 6.30pm), and day boys and girls on Thursday morning.

On Thursday morning there will be House and academic administration sessions in small groups, including recorded ‘Assembly’ messages. Classes start after lunch on Thursday (after which day boys and girls may leave), and Friday is the first full day.

We look forward to getting into the routines of College life very shortly.

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.

On Sunday, May 31st, St. Columba’s College was contacted by a former pupil of the College, who bravely shared her experiences of racism while attending the school. Her actions motivated other people, both former and current pupils, to share similar experiences.  We thank them for having the courage to bring these matters to our attention.

The Board and Management of St. Columba’s College is taking these matters very seriously and has taken, and continues to take, a number of steps to address and respond to the issues raised. In the first instance, in June of this year, the College established an independent review to consider the issues raised by the pupils and former pupils and specifically how systemic racism, as alleged, could be avoided, such that diversity and inclusion are fostered and maintained in the College and, importantly, to make appropriate recommendations arising out of the review.

The aim of the review, based on submissions made by a number of former pupils and parents, as well as interviews with staff, was not to challenge or interrogate the facts or to pass judgment on individuals, but rather to use the past to inform the future and to make recommendations for how issues and concerns could be handled better.

This review has now been completed and the College has received a comprehensive report. The College accepts the findings of the report and welcomes the honest and robust analysis of the past contained within it. It thanks the author for the time invested in the production of this valuable piece of work and for the sensitive manner in which she facilitated the raising and discussing of these important issues. The College accepts that, as has been raised in the report and the recommendations, there is a need for greater understanding when dealing with matters of racism. St. Columba’s is a school with a large international contingent, that prides itself on its pastoral care, and where people have felt let down, it accepts its responsibility.

The completion of the review is only the beginning of what will be a long journey of education, awareness-raising and change. The College is committed to that journey. The report contains a substantial number of recommendations for the College to implement as it seeks to learn from the past by improving responses and procedures in the future.  The College plans to immediately put in place a Working Group comprised of staff, pupils, parents and board members who will take the review, its findings and its recommendations, and develop it into a roadmap for change.

Mark Boobbyer, Warden of St. Columba’s College said: “The College wishes to thank all those who contributed to the review and who participated in interviews. With the completion of the report, we now have clear guidance and direction on what we need to do in order to make the future better for all members of the Columba’s community.

“I also want to apologise to all pupils, both past and present, who feel let down by the manner in which we have addressed incidents of racism in the past. I specifically want to apologise to the two former pupils who first brought these matters to our attention. Their courage in sharing their experiences with the school has led us to do a lot of soul-searching and ensured that we will learn from the past in order to build a more inclusive school for all our students.

“This has been a difficult experience for the College but the Board of Management and the Fellows of the College are determined that the lessons learned, and the difficult conversations of recent months, will help to shape the College’s future.”

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

“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.

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!’

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.

Though the campus is closed, subject teachers will continue to make 2020 Prize Awards (a lot of prizes have already been awarded in the Michaelmas and Hilary Terms). This post will list those who receive prizes this term (some will wait until June, when pupils will have a chance to spend more time on some remaining subjects).

Many congratulations go to:

  • Tania Stokes: Peter Dix Memorial Prize for Poetry
  • Raphaela Ihuoma: Geology Prize
  • Eliza Somerville: Willis Memorial Prize for Shakespeare
  • Hannah Swanepoel: Junior Poetry Prize
  • Keelin Bradley-Brady: John Bevan Classical Studies Prize
  • Eliza Somerville: Physics Prize
  • Poppy O’Malley: Agricultural Science Prize
  • Elys Walker: Junior Science Prize
  • Sophia Cole: Economics Prize
  • Arizona Forde: Senior Earl of Meath Art Prize
  • Nikolaus Wachs: Senior Craft Prize
  • Sveva Ciofani: Photography Prize
  • Georgia Goodbody: Junior Earl of Meath Art Prize
  • Alison Coogan: Junior Craft Prize
  • Songyon Oh: Business Prize
  • Sam Lawrence: Biology Prize
  • Sakhile Khumalo: Senior Drama Prize
  • Ellen Homan: Fry Prize for Stagecraft
  • Zofia Cannon-Brookes: Junior Geography Prize
  • Zofia Cannon-Brookes: Technical Graphics Prize
  • Eliza Somerville: Senior Geography Prize
  • Emily McCarthy: Junior Drama Prize
  • Coco Xu: John Jenkins Music Prize
  • Emily McCarthy: Junior Music Prize
  • Songyon Oh: Senior Music Prize
  • Sakhile Khumalo: Senior Music Prize
  • Marcus O’Connor: Aroti Sisodia Music Prize
  • Cosima Schilling: Sandham Willis Prize for Music
  • Tania Stokes: Senior Music Prize (instrumental).



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:

You can listen on this page to the Chapel services taking place this term (check the bottom of the page for the three which happened earlier in March/April). A handful of resident staff attend, adhering to distancing regulations.

Pianist: Mr Peter McCarthy. Organist: Mr Tristan Clarke.

You can subscribe to the services via Spotify and podcast players by going here.

Trinity Term 2020




(Updated statement, June 7th)

On Sunday, May 31st, St. Columba’s College was contacted by a former pupil of the College, who bravely shared with us her experiences of racism while attending the school. Her actions motivated other people, both former and current pupils, to share similar experiences.  We can only imagine how difficult it was for the young people involved to write down those experiences. We thank them for having the courage to bring these matters to our attention.

The Board and Management of St. Columba’s College is taking these matters very seriously and are taking a number of steps to address and respond to the issues raised.

The College has established an independent review to consider the issues raised by the pupils and former pupils and specifically to evaluate whether there is a culture of racism, direct or indirect, within the College and, importantly, to make appropriate recommendations arising out of the review. This review is being conducted by an experienced legal and governance professional and will involve others with expertise in the area of cultural diversity, with direct experience within an educational setting. We have asked those working on the review to conduct it within a 6 week period. This is to allow sufficient time to ensure that the process is thorough and robust.

The College is committed to shining a searchlight into these issues, which are of the utmost importance to the College community and are part of a wider discourse in society. I very much hope that the conversation which will ensue from this process will be a catalyst that will allow us to ensure the care for our pupils is of the highest standard. Where there are lessons to learn we will not be afraid learn to them.

Mark Boobbyer, Warden of St. Columba’s College

Here is a film to mark the St Columba’s Day weekend.  The Warden speaks, as well as Chairperson of the Fellows, Sarah Love, and Senior Prefect Megan Bulbulia. At the end are prize announcements (more prizes are being awarded in June). St Columba’s Day itself is on June 9th.

St Columba’s Day 2020 from St Columba’s College on Vimeo.