During the period of ‘lockdown’ since March, our resident Chaplain and talented photographer, Daniel Owen, has been roaming the campus taking pictures, and now we present you with an online exhibition, below.

These are of course portraits of a campus emptied of pupils (though there are many resident staff and their families); they are also portraits of beautiful places blossoming with the growths of the season. They will be very evocative for all pupils, their parents, and Old Columbans, who cannot currently visit the College.

Reverend Owen writes:  “They are a mixture of colour and black and white and even a few taken on film. Emptiness and space are prevalent, along with a distinct lack of people – but there are also plenty of light-filled Spring photos to remind us of new beginnings to come…”


[Update May 27th: we have now concluded these sessions, but hope to run more next term if still necessary].

Since our annual May Open Evening cannot take place, due to the closure of the campus, the Warden is going to host ‘remote’ Open sessions, and families who are interested in sending children to the school up to 2023.

There will be three Open evenings/days over the next few weeks and we invite you to sign up. They will be held on the following dates (always Irish time):

  • Thursday 21st May, 18:00 (closed – FULL).
  • Tuesday 26th May, 14:00 (closed – FULL).
  • Tuesday 2nd June, 18:00 (closed – FULL).
  • Thursday 4th June, 14:00 (closed – FULL).

There will be a limit of ten families for each session. You will be given a link in advance, and then welcomed ‘remotely’ by Warden in his study. He will give an introduction and then show a 7-minute film of him giving a brief tour of key parts of the campus. After the film there will be for a live session of questions. It is envisaged that the sessions will last less than an hour.

If necessary more sessions will be organised.

 If you would like to sign up for any of these sessions, please fill in the form below.

Raphaela Ihuoma writes:

On Wednesday our weekly Politics Debate Club came together and discussed whether juveniles should be tried as adults for serious crimes and also whether ex-criminals can reform and reintegrate back into society. Raphaela introduced the motion in a neutral way and the group discussed the following points and issues:

  • Are ex-criminals able to reintegrate back into society after committing such serious or heinous crimes? If so, how?
  • Should they get a second chance? Should society forgive them?
  • Is it the government’s duty to provide work and reintegrate former convicts so they can be part of society, pay tax and pay their way?
  • The UK case of Jamie Bulger, Jon Venables and Robert Thompson was discussed. Some asked whether prison is the best way to deal with juvenile ‘criminals’? Or whether justice should be about retribution or reformation?

The first Wellbeing Challenge this term produced lots of cheery images of what makes pupils, staff and parents happy.

The next challenge is to submit photos of things which bring you calm and peace. Please submit photos by Thursday 14th May.

See all the photos from the challenges in the album below.

Fifth Former Maybelle Rainey writes:

On Thursday evening, at the Art Talk, my uncle Gawain Rainey spoke about art in the fashion world. His company Image Partnership has over 20 years of experience producing fashion shoots and films and is also an agency representing some of the hottest artistic talent in fashion. He has worked with a glittering array of  top names in fashion, including Burberry, Vogue, Fendi, Prada  and Stella McCartney to name a few. He and his teams create exciting content for these brands in a number of different media: advertising, flim, editorial shoots and animation as well as the production of fashion shows. In his agency books, he has gathered a broad range of talent to make this possible – directors, photographs, set designers and makeup artists.

During his chat, Gawain went through, layer upon layer, all of the different departments and skill teams he puts together to create this magic. On just one fashion shoot, there can be as many as 35 people on set, aside from the model and photographer, to assemble the final product. Teams of set designers, stylists, make-up artists, lighting crews, catering and assistants are all pulled together by production (ie. Gawain) to create the precise look that the client desires.

Gawain grew up in the Welsh countryside, the second youngest of a bustling and bohemian family, driving tractors and running wild on the hillside, about as far from the world of fashion as you could imagine. However, his father had a seminal clothes shop on London’s Kings Road in the sixties, called “Hung on You”, dressing the Beatles and Rolling Stones, and his mother Jane, now a very successful interior designer, was considered a style icon of that decade. So although he had a fairly wild country upbringing, it is clear that fashion and design run in his blood.

Like me, Gawain is extremely dyslexic, but unlike me, there was little support within schools at this time, and he abandoned formal education at 15 and got a job, determined to get going.

He spoke of how he started as a photographer’s assistant, which mainly involves carrying photographic equipment and running errands, but showed him the ropes of how a set ran. Through working consistently and determinately, he built up a base of contacts within the industry, some his age, starting out, who were soon to be household names.

In his chat, Gawain stressed that although there are many amazing courses now in fashion colleges, it is also possible to climb the ladder in this world by just getting out there and getting work experience. Whichever route you take, though, it requires true hard graft, determination and a belief in one’s own personal ‘look’. The fashion world is famously hard to crack, but again he stressed that consistent hard work carries you forward.

I have a boundless admiration for Gawain’s achievement in having built such a successful business- what an inspiring and interesting talk! If you want to see more about his company follow this link.

Fifth Former Tim Otway-Norwood and three of his friends are raising money for the Royal National Lifeboat Institution by ‘virtually cycling’ around Ireland. They aimed to raise €2000 at first, but have gone well past that now, with currently over €7000 on their GoFundMe page.

Tim writes:

“To update you, the RNLI challenge is going really well: we have been cycling for six days. We set up a Twitter page @VirtualRnli and have been mentioned on Ryan Tubridy’s morning radio show on RTE radio 1, and the Irish Sailing Association have put it up on their website and put an article on Afloat.

We have been joined by Olympic Silver Medallist Annalise Murphy and other Olympic hopefuls have also taken part, including Aoife Hopkins, Oisin McClelland and former Olympian Timothy Goodbody. The Olympic Federation have also mentioned us on their Twitter accounts.

We have cycled over 1134km, climbed 7400metres and spent 36 hours cycling over six days around my online classes.  We took a rest on Friday in Virtual Achill Island Lifeboat Station.

Today, Saturday, we set out for Donegal.

Thank you for your support, we hope to get to over €8000.00.”

Further donations can be made below.


Éile Ní Chianáin reports on the latest session of the Fifth Form virtual politics debating club:

Today we discussed ‘the legalization of all drugs.’ Sinead Cleary introduced the topic and highlighted why she suggested this motion. We decided to begin each of our meetings with a quick vote before the discussions began on whether we were for or against the motion. Interestingly, we were an even split. 7 of us were for the legalisation of drugs and the other half against. In our discussions we encourage everyone to contribute through stating opinions, outlining ideas or hopes for this future idealistic world, responding to others points or asking questions.

This discussion raised thoughts and questions on:

  • should we decriminalise drug users?
  • the power drug cartels hold over society and governments
  • whether the sale of illegal substances gives rise to secrecy and mistrust in society?
  • can substance abusers and addicts get the help they need for rehabilitation and recovery within prisons?
  • is reforming corruption in governments that facilitate drug trafficking the solution?
  • if drugs were legalised what restrictions would be put in place?
  • the practicality of implementing drug legalisation is LEDCs
  • The real-life effect of the legalisation of drugs in Portugal

In our next meeting we plan on voting at the beginning and end of the debate to see if members have been swayed by others’ arguments.

Congratulations to pupils who have been awarded Art Prizes this year (the annual prize exhibition could not be held this year in March). You can see the work of these pupils in the album lower down the page.


Senior Earl of Meath Art Prize

Arizona Forde (Coursework notebook pages and lino)

Senior Craft Prize

Nikolaus Wachs (lino print)

Photography Prize

Sveva Ciofani

Junior Earl of Meath Art Prize

Georgia Goodbody (painting in term I and her CBA)

Junior Craft Prize

Alison Coogan (Pottery macaroons)



Full details – 

Senior Earl of Meath Art Prize

Arizona Forde (Coursework notebook pages and lino)



  • Tania Stokes (Portrait & Painting) 
  • Iona Chavasse (Portrait)
  • Edna Johnston (Portrait)
  • Anthony Zhang (Portrait)
  • Eyitore Gbenga Ajayi (Portrait)


Senior Craft Prize

Nikolaus Wachs (lino print)



  • Paolo Garcia Leslie (Pottery Hand)
  • Iona Chavasse & Emma Hinde (Pottery landscape)
  • Elea Strahl and Mia Deutsch (Pottery hand and world)
  • Caroline Hagar and Edna Johnson (pottery Honey- comb)


Distinctions also awarded to the following for their excellent work on the JUNK KOUTURE project

  • Bonnie McCallum (Slaves to Pollution)
  • Maria Grimalt Pujol (Slaves to Pollution)
  • Jasmine Williams (Slaves to Pollution)
  • Caroline Hagar (The Treasure Hunters)
  • Vera Iltchenko (The Treasure Hunters)
  • Lioba Preysing (Black Water)
  • Franz Kohlhaas (Black Water)
  • Emma Hinde (Books for Dreams)


Photography Prize

Sveva Ciofani


Junior Earl of Meath Art Prize

Georgia Goodbody (painting in term I and her CBA)



  • Jasper Wilkinson (Drawings)
  • Amaya Street (Drawings)
  • Keelin Bradley (Drawings)
  • Phoebe Landseer (Painting term I and CBA)
  • Max Cully (CBA)
  • Isabella Tracey (CBA)
  • Jaime Green (CBA)

Junior Craft Prize

Alison Coogan (Pottery macaroons)



  • Elys Walker (Clay skull and prep work)
  • Kaley Song (Notebook Work and Drawings)
  • Kate Higgins ( Clay head and prep work)
  • Zofia Cannon-Brookes (Clay eye and prep work)
  • Isabel Warnock (Clay heart and prep work)
  • Elena O Dowd. (Lino and prep work)


This weekend would have seen our Transition Year pupils participating in our 5th Pieta House ‘Darkness into Light’ walk in Marlay Park. Despite the cancellation of the event, we continued the tradition and supported this amazing charity by asking TY pupils and staff to show solidarity with those affected by suicide by getting up at 5:30am on Saturday 9th May to watch the sunrise from their homes. See the many evocative photographs in the album below.

Pieta House is accepting online donations here.

After the first virtual Artist Talk last week, Maybelle Rainey had the idea of getting a guest artist to speak every week. So this week we had “Art Maker”, Street Artist, Illustrator and Teacher, Niall O’Lochlainn, to talk to the pupils about his art work.
It was really interesting for pupils to hear about his work and processes. It was also great to hear about the range of work and commissions he does and how each one leads to the next.

Tania Stokes writes:

Last Thursday we had the great pleasure of listening to a talk from Niall O’Lochlainn. Niall is an art maker based in Dublin who specialises in street art, illustration and design. If you want to familiarise yourself with his work, his Instagram is a good place to start… though you might also try hunting around the city for his fantastic murals.

In his presentation, Niall shared some iconic experiences with us that were made possible by his art. He talked about how a small artistic favour done years ago for an anonymous rapper led to him getting recommended for a job for Wu-Tang Clan. He got to create the promotional poster for a Berlin concert they were putting on, and he considers it to be among his proudest works. “One of my musical heroes got to see a piece of my artwork through this… That was a cool moment.”

Niall’s involvement in the street art community has had its share of highlights too. Doing professional work for various clients has helped broaden his horizons. He told us he had never been sporty, but that on one occasion he was commissioned to paint a hurling wall at Stradbally, which got him involved with the club there for a few days. “It’s nice when you can link in to a culture that you’re not good with… through art you can get into that culture.” 

Likewise, his own personal art has opened up new worlds for him. Painting on walls in the streets at all sorts of strange hours of the day has resulted in some memorable encounters. “You don’t get that sort of stuff when you’re in a studio”, he says, telling us about the time when a homeless person bought him a smoothie out of appreciation for a giant mural of a granny he was painting. Hearing about the characters Niall has met along his journey put a good few smiles into our day.

I love Niall’s art, with all of its personality, quirky shapes and the interesting stories behind each piece. It was truly inspirational hearing him talk so passionately about it, and I want to end with a quote from him that I think sums it up very well: “I like to think that these pieces all have a bit of me in it. Y’know, that little bit of hip hop.”


Fifth Former Tita Schack and friends are organising a charity fundraiser for the Chittagong eye infirmity (CEITC), which is the largest eye clinic in Bangladesh. They would be grateful for any contributions to this worthy cause. You can see plenty more details, and a link for donations, here. You can follow also on Instagram here.


Fifth Former Raphaela Ihuoma writes:

The “crashcoursedebateclub” is a Fifth Form discussion group. We discuss current affairs, political and social issues. I set up the club in the midst of this global pandemic because I was keen to discuss and make sense of what was going on around me. I realised that when I spoke with my peers at St Columba’s that I learnt new things and I was influenced by what others had to say, sometimes to the point of reversing my initial opinion on a topic. This is why I thought it would be a good idea to establish an official club.

I sent out emails to teachers who would help establish this club and I asked the Warden for permission. They were all in full support of my idea. Ms. Duggan and I decided it would be a good idea to start a virtual discussion while the school campus wase closed, so we meet via Google Hangout now. Sveva Ciofani  and I gathered the initial thirteen Fifth Formers (the number has now grown to sixteen) and things started from there. If you would like to join our weekly discussions, please email me or Ms Duggan. The whole team is very grateful to Ms. Duggan for helping us set up this club.

Our Librarian, Ms Kent-Sutton, has advice for all pupils and parents about reading now. Many pupils have a great opportunity to deepen and extend their reading both for academic reasons and pleasure.

Note that e-books are available on several platforms (including BorrowBox – see below), and Amazon’s Kindle app can be downloaded for free on all devices (you do not need a physical Kindle). Many classic books are free.

First of all, visit Libraries Ireland who have relaxed their joining policies for the duration of the shutdown. Anyone can join and get immediate free access to their online services with their virtual library card: you need to download some free apps. The Borrowbox app will allow access to audio and ebooks. RB Digital is superb for comics books and graphic novels; the quality of the illustrations is not lost. They also do audio books. And finally in PressReader there is unlimited access to daily newspapers by country.

The Carnegie Medal is always excellent at highlighting the best of YA fiction for the year, and the 2020 shortlist is here. Each title on the list gives an age rating so pupils can access their appropriate level.
The Bookseller also has a Young Adult Book Prize shortlist.

If pupils/parents are looking for a challenge they could try the 16 Before 16 Reading Challenge. Pupils attempt to read 16 “classics” before they turn 16. A sample list is below, which is definitely not exhaustive but a rough guide.

  • I Know why the Caged Bird Sings- Maya Angelou
  • Wuthering Heights- Emily Bronte
  • Misery- Stephen King
  • To Kill a Mockingbird- Harper Lee
  • The Catcher in the Rye- J. D. Salinger
  • The Outsiders- S. E. Hinton
  • Frankenstein- Mary Shelley
  • 1984- George Orwell
  • The Crucible- Arthur Miller
  • Great Expectations-Charles Dickens
  • Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland- C.S. Lewis
  • Brave New World- Aldous Huxley
  • Pride and Prejudice- Jane Austen
  • One Hundred Years of Solitude- Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  • Never Let Me Go- Kazou Ishiguro
  • Atonement-Ian McEwan
  • All Quiet on the Western Front-Erich Maria Remarque
  • Cider with Rosie- Laurie Lee
  • Schindler’s Ark- Thomas Keneally
  • I Capture the Castle- Dodie Smith

Next, a list of some time-tested series:-

  • The Mortal Instruments- Cassandra Clare
  • Chaos Walking- Patrick Ness
  • Noughts and Crosses- Malorie Blackman
  • Throne of Glass-Sarah J Maas
  • Gone- Michael Grant
  • The Raven Cycle- Maggie Stiefvater
  • To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before- Jenny Han
  • His Dark Materials- Philip Pullman
  • Uglies- Scott Westerfield
  • Abhorsen-Garth Nix
  • Lorien Legacies- James Frey
  • Shatter Me- Tahereh Mafi
  • Cirque Du Freak-Darren Shan
  • Artemis Fowl- Eoin Colfer
  • Young Bond-Charlie Higson
Some notable new releases in the next month, with potential for these to be big summer reads…
  • The Kingdom of the Back-Marie Lu
  • The Enigma Game- Elizabeth Wein
  • Clap When you Land- Elizabeth Acevedo
  • The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes (Hunger Games prequel) – Suzanne Collins

BAME/LGBTQ+ Summer Reads

  • On The Come Up- Angie Sage
  • Black Flamingo- Dean Atta
  • Kick the Moon- Muhammad Khan
  • Children of Blood and Bone- Tomi Adeyemi
  • The Gilded Ones- Namina Forna (Released July 2021)
  • And the Stars Were Burning Brightly- Danielle Jawando
  • Clap when you Land- Elizabeth Acevedo
  • You Should See Me in a Crown- Leah Johnson
  • Late to the Party- Kelly Quindlen
  • The Henna Wars- Adiba Jaigirdar
  • The Falling In Love Montage- Ciara Smyth
  • Only Mostly Devastated- Sophie Gonzales
And lastly, the following books have been adapted to films (some Netflix) and due for release before the end of the year:-
  • Dune- Frank Herbert
  • The Secret Garden- Frances Hodgson Burnett
  • Artemis Fowl- Eoin Colfer
  • There’s Someone Inside Your House- Stephanie Perkins (Netflix)
  • Death on The Nile- Agatha Christie
  • The Stand- Stephen King
  • Rebecca- Daphne Du Maurier (Netflix)

Time have a list of the best 100 Young Adult Books of All Time if anyone wants to attempt to read all 100!
Goodreads is pretty reliable for suggestions by genre and for suggesting titles/series.

12 Fifth Form pupils yesterday met virtually to discuss the impact of Covid 19 on the twelve countries they researched and have personal experience of: the UK, Nigeria, Turkey, Singapore, Hungary, Australia, Spain, Italy, the United States, China, Sweden and of course Ireland.

Each pupil wrote 500 words on his/her country and this was shared with the group in advance of the discussion in order for the chat to be evidence-based. They plan to pull together some form of publication of the research and the findings of the discussions

The topic for next Wednesday’s session is: “Imagining a better post-covid world- what changes should we make and how can governments implement them?”

If anyone else would like to join the discussion, please mail Ms Duggan.

Despite the pandemic and global lockdown, there is some positive news regarding the environment. The waters in the Venetian canals have cleared, LA smog has disappeared and in Thailand restrictions keeping humans and harmful waste off beaches are having a beneficial effect on the numbers of endangered leatherback sea turtles.

Today, April 22nd, is the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day, an annual event celebrated around the world to demonstrate support for environmental protection. First celebrated in 1970, it now involves over 10,ooo environmental groups across 183 countries.

This year St. Columba’s has joined the digital community to raise awareness, and in support will host a College Kahoot Quiz.

You will need to learn a little about Earth Day first: https://www.earthday.org/history/

Then go to Kahoot game page https://kahoot.it/ and enter the code sent to you on Firefly.

The quiz is open until 8.00pm tonight: Who will become the College Earth Day Kahoot Champion?

Today, Monday 20th April, we start term again (albeit not on the physical campus). The SPHE Department will be running a fortnightly photo challenge for pupils (and teachers and parents too!), to help them think about their wellbeing during the next six weeks. We’ll post entries on our Twitter and Facebook accounts, and they’ll be gathered in the album you can see below. Pupils have been contacted by Firefly about this already.

Thanks to Ms Maybury and Dr Rice for kicking things off…


This morning a small number of residents again met in Chapel with appropriate ‘distancing’ for an Easter Sunday service. You can now listen to this 17-minute service via the player below, and follow it by the text below that, including the words of the hymns if you’d like to join in.

The service is conducted by the Chaplain, Reverend Daniel Owen. The reading is by Caleb Owen, and Mr Peter McCarthy is the pianist.

Easter Day – The First Sunday of Easter
12th April 2020

The Greeting
Christ is risen.
The Lord is risen indeed. Alleluia! Luke 24:34

Introduction from the Chaplain

O Lord, open our lips
And our mouth will proclaim your praise.

O God, make speed to save us.
O Lord, make haste to help us.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit;
As it was in the beginning, is now, and shall be for ever. Amen.

Praise the Lord.
The Lord’s name be praised.

Hymn 244

1. There is a green hill far away,
Without a city wall,
where the dear Lord was crucified
who died to save us all.

2. We may not know, we cannot tell,
what pains he had to bear,
but we believe it was for us
he hung and suffered there.

3. He died that we might be forgiven,
he died to make us good,
that we might go at last to heaven,
saved by his precious blood.

4. There was no other good enough
to pay the price of sin,
he only could unlock the gate
of heaven, and let us in.

5. O dearly, dearly has he loved!
And we must love him too,
and trust in his redeeming blood,
and try his works to do.

Cecil Francis Alexander (1818-95)

The Reading
John 20:1-18, The Resurrection of Jesus
(Followed by short address by the Chaplain).

Easter Collect
Almighty God,
through your only-begotten Son Jesus Christ
you have overcome death
and opened to us the gate of everlasting life:
Grant that, as by your grace going before us
you put into our minds good desires,
so by your continual help we may bring them to good effect;
through Jesus Christ our risen Lord
who is alive and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Concluding with:

Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name,
thy kingdom come,
thy will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory
for ever and ever. Amen.

Hymn 288

1. Thine be the glory risen, conquering Son,
endless is the victory thou oe’r death hast won;
angels in bright raiment rolled the stone away,
kept the folded grave-clothes where thy body lay:

Thine be the glory, risen, conquering Son,
endless is the victory thou oe’r death hast won.

2. Lo, Jesus meets us, risen from the tomb;
lovingly he greets us, scatters fear and gloom;
let the Church with gladness hymns of triumph sing,
for her Lord now liveth, death hath lost its sting:

Thine be the glory, risen, conquering Son,
endless is the victory thou oe’r death hast won.

3. No more we doubt thee, glorious Prince of Life;
life is nought without thee: aid us in our strife;
make us more than conquerors through thy deathless love;
bring us safe through Jordan to thy home above:

Thine be the glory, risen, conquering Son,
endless is the victory thou oe’r death hast won.

Edmund Budry (1854-1932), Tr. R.B. Hoyle (1875-1939)


Concluding Prayer and Blessing
Living God,
for our redemption you gave your only-begotten Son
to the death of the cross,
and by his glorious resurrection
you have delivered us from the power of our enemy.
Grant us so to die daily unto sin,
that we may evermore live with him in the joy of his risen life;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

The blessing of God Almighty,
The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit,
be with you and remain with you always. Amen.

Go in the peace of the Risen Christ. Alleluia! Alleluia!
Thanks be to God. Alleluia! Alleluia!

Finally, listen to ‘O vos omnes II’ by Tomás Luis de Victoria (1548-1611) sung by some ‘distanced’ residents on Good Friday below:

Material in the service from The Book of Common Prayer copyright © RCB 2004.

Photograph of the Chapel taken by the Chaplain.

Numerous institutions, including the Getty Museum in Los Angeles, have taken up the challenge of recreating their favourite artworks with whatever they can find in their homes, with some amazing and interesting results…

Pupils, parents and staff: take a look at the examples on these two Instagram feeds:

We challenge you to recreate a work of art with objects (and people) in your home!

Choose your favourite artwork
Find three things lying around your house⠀
Recreate the artwork with those items


Email the pictures to Ms. Cullen or Ms. Murphy and they will be shared on