Following the recent elections, the following pupils have been appointed as representatives of their respective Forms for the Pupils’ Council 2o20 / 2021. Congratulations to each of them and we look forward to seeing them help lead the pupil body in the year to come.

Form I – Stella Borrowdale & Felix Jellet

Form II – Lily Moore & Elliot Warnock

Form III – Vivian Tuite & Christopher Atkins

Form IV – Isabel Warnock & Nikolai Foster

Form V – Poppy Gleeson & Hugo Dunlop

Form VI – Sveva Ciofani & Carl Schierstadt


We have been deeply saddened this week at the untimely passing of Tobias Onyeka-Patrick, Old Columban, who left the College the summer before last.

Tobias ended his lengthy struggle with illness on Thursday and he is fondly remembered by all his friends here, by those who lived with him in Glen House, those who taught him and those who trained and played with him on College teams. Gentle manners, a ready smile and a wonderful warmth of personality were all hallmarks of this unique young man.

Tobias joined his younger brother Edward in the College in September 2017 in Form V; he is pictured that month. In both years as a pupil he represented the 1st XV in rugby. He served as a House Captain in Glen in VI Form where he was popular and well-liked by all. Tobias was a creative person with a talent for music, particularly as a hip-hop vocalist.

Unfortunately illness prevented him from sitting his Leaving Certificate in 2019. All through the 18 months of his illness we were bowled over by his fortitude, grace, courage and a dignified bearing that was almost saintly to behold. The impression he made has been enormous. Our thoughts and prayers are with all the family at this difficult time, especially his brother Michael in Form III.

Ronan Swift, Housemaster of Glen.



On the evening of Wednesday 14th October a small group of pupils and staff met in the Chapel, properly distanced, to remember Tobias. This was recorded for others to listen to, especially his family and Old Columban friends, who cannot currently come into the College. Listen to it below.

I am welcoming you to St Columba’s College in unprecedented times. We return to an altered reality, where rules and social interaction are different. As Coronavirus infiltrates our lives, this is a time for us to stay close together as a school, as colleagues and as friends. As a group, we need to be united and be attentive to each other, and especially to the vulnerable amongst us and to our extended families and the wider community.

The coronavirus will continue to impact on our lives, but we should keep in mind that the problems and issues we grappled with before lockdown have not gone away, in fact, most have been exacerbated. Every day more people slip into poverty, our planet continues to get sicker and our society is becoming more divided.

Here at St Columba’s, I believe we can make a difference, and we should all welcome the recent external review of racism as the first step towards positive change. I hope you will all join me in making a commitment to embrace the changes proposed in this review, but also to go further and to stand up against all forms of discrimination and prejudice. Let us do this with open hearts and a willingness to see what we can do individually, and as a community, to make Columba’s a place we are proud to call our school, and a microcosm of the world we want to live in.

This year, more than any other, it’s imperative at St Columba’s that we are kind to each other, that we are inclusive, that we value and enjoy each other’s company and make the most of the year ahead.

St Columba’s in 2020 can be a school at the forefront of change in Ireland, and I am very proud to be invited to lead you on this exciting journey.

Éile Ní Chíanáin, Senior Prefect 2020 / 2021

In COVID-19 times can we still look at the bright side of life? Thoughts by Marc Kaptein, Parent and Medical Director, Pfizer the Netherlands

Dear fellow parents of SCC students, the last couple of months have been a rollercoaster for all of us; children had to leave school in March, parents had to adapt quickly to that reality, children were attending classes remotely, SCC staff had to adjust to online teaching and prepare for the return of students in September. Now that our children have returned to school we need to accept that, despite all measures, staff or students may be infected with COVID-19(if even the president of the USA gets it…) and quarantines are warranted by the Irish authorities. My daughter Julia who, after a “close contact”, tested negative to our relief, is quarantined until October 8th. Despite this quarantine situation I want to quote the lovely German couple that accommodated her; “without this situation we would have never met!” So, always look at the bright side of life!

That’s great, but how and when can we return to pre-COVID normality, you may ask. Basically, there are three scenario’s possible. Firstly, the virus can no longer be contained, a large majority of world citizens will get contaminated, many will get seriously ill and millions die. The end result will be that group immunity is achieved and the virus slowly fades out. This scenario, while I’m writing it down, is not only scary but also unacceptable to me.

The second scenario hinges on significant scientific progress of the treatment of COVID-19 patients above and beyond the current options; virus inhibitors, immune system modulating medication and blood thinners. This would allow for the virus to go around the world population without the devastating effect and reach the much desired group immunity. Unfortunately new drugs, that would make this scenario a realistic option, won’t be available before the end of 2021 (if ever) and health care systems may collapse under the massive patient demand.

The third and most likely scenario in my opinion, is a safe and effective vaccine or, even better, vaccines. This, I guess, is also a good moment for my disclaimer; I am working for Pfizer, so my knowledge is specific to the vaccine we’re developing. Please understand that my view is coloured by the information I have access to. Working in the pharmaceutical sector I am convinced the first corona vaccine may be approved just before or after New Year. However, may I remind you, I always look at the bright side of life!

A question I often get is; how did you guys get your vaccine developed so quickly -and- can we be sure that it is rigorously tested and safe? I will try to answer those questions by pointing out a few key factors that have helped in achieving the almost impossible.

Firstly, the vaccine Pfizer/BioNTech has developed is a so-called mRNA vaccine. The key difference with other vaccine technologies is that the “vector” which is the vehicle that gets the “pay load” (Corona spike protein or genetic mRNA code for that spike protein) into the cell is a fully synthetic, non-pathogenic nano particle, not an inactivated virus. Because we don’t need to produce these “vehicle” viruses in mammalian cell cultures in large bio reactors (which is a tricky and time consuming process) in massive quantities we’ve been able to produce candidate vaccines for testing months quicker. Secondly, we’ve chosen to do multiple steps in parallel. For instance, we’ve combined phase II and III clinical trials and we’ve started manufacturing of the vaccine before we’ve been granted approval. This saves years in development and manufacturing time. Although these decisions increase the financial risks (in case of failure) it does not affect  patients safety or rigorousness of our clinical trial program. Thirdly, governments worked alongside with us to accelerate approval processes. Both EMA and FDA have decided on so-called “rolling reviews” which means that they will review data when available rather than waiting for us to submit a full dossier. This saves up to 9 months compared to regular approval processes without affecting the objectivity or rigor of the process.

My personal experience over the last couple of months has been that impossible things were done in days and little miracles in weeks. Unlikely partnerships were forged and friendships started. This also holds true for SCC,  we can only overcome this extremely challenging period together. With my own eyes I’ve seen the extraordinary amount of work that Mark Boobbyer and the COVID team have put in to prepare and find solutions for each and every unique students  problem or situation. Without COVID-19  I would’ve never been in close contact with the COVID team at school. So I stand with my motto; always look at the bright side of life! I hope you do too!

Marc Kaptein,

Medical Director

Pfizer the Netherlands

Dear Parents

Welcome to our first newsletter of the new academic year 2020/2021.

On behalf of all the parents, we would like to take this opportunity to thank the Warden, the Matron and all her team, and all members of staff, including ground staff, for the way in which they have quickly adapted and are adapting to the new educational environment at SCC. The past few months, have been , without doubt, difficult and trying for both management, parents, and student alike and we appreciate how the staff have worked tirelessly over the summer under the restricted guidelines to ensure that SCC opened its doors in September despite all the challenging Covid-19 protocols that had to be put in place.

On behalf of the P.A. Committee, can we ask parents to try to ensure that we and our children respect the HSE and school guidelines, especially during Exodus and mid-term breaks, so that students, staff and all their families remain safe for the foreseeable future.

The HSE Website is linked below.

It is important too, to thank those parents who are housing children during exodus and half term for those children who are unable to return home, and to thank those that have contributed and continue to contribute their time, advice and expertise in answering questions for parents living here and abroad.

If you have any questions going forward , please do post them on what’s app or message one of our P.A representatives  personally. If you are still not on the WhatsApp group and would like to be please email

PA reps for the coming year:

1st Year – Ciara Hassett

2nd Year – Jenny Pringle

3rd Year – Colette Cully

TY – Aine Carroll

5th Year – Sarah Gleeson

6th Year – Ciara Hassett

Overseas –  Irmela Hopkins

Unfortunately all coffee mornings are suspended at present but as soon as restrictions are eased to allow greater numbers at gatherings we’ll get going again and welcoming you for a catch up.

Gilly Goodbody is your contact for the Second Hand uniform shop. There is not an awful lot of stock left, but if any one is need of anything. Please contact her. 086 6077455

The current COVID-19 restrictions have meant the Transition Year Co-ordinator and her team have had to be more imaginative in their organisation of the year’s various activities. The Transition Year at St. Columba still places a strong focus on academic work but, like many other schools, there is a greater focus on community outreach, physical exertion, building a service culture, team building and extra-curricular activities. Catering for these activities is a challenge in the current climate, but not impossible.

We were delighted that our annual TY team building event at Causey Farm was still able to go ahead, with the Causey Farm team putting strong procedures in place to protect our pupils and staff. Elys Walker wrote a detail report on this last week which can be read here. Another great team building activity was the drone video where the Transition Year pupil paid tribute to the work of health workers across Ireland and Europe. It’s been viewed over 18,000 times on our Facebook page – click here to see it.

Another whole year event was a recent hike to Fairy Castle, the peak of the nearby mountain complex. Kate Higgins writes this report:

We left at 8:30 that morning and the mist was so heavy that it was difficult to see. We were lead by Mr. O’Shaughnessy, Miss.Lynch and Mme. DeFréin and left the College through the front gate. We turned left up Kilmashogue lane and walked up the surprisingly steep hill towards Ticknock. We were then on a forest trail and the trees looked eerie in the morning light with the heavy mist. It wasn’t too cold or windy when we were walking in the forest but once we got out into  the open to walk towards Fairy Castle it was freezing. The wind was  strong and the mist was still too thick to see very far. We came back down on a slightly different route over a path of rocks. Once we got back into the forestry we were sheltered from the wind again. We then made our way back to the college after a very fun and enjoyable walk on the mountain right at our doorstep. Many thanks to those who organised it and joined us. 

We were delighted to once again welcome John Lonergan, the former Governor of Mountjoy Prison, to speak with the Transition Year pupils recently about drugs, crime and his time in the prison. The pupils enjoyed John’s gentle tone in what was a wide-ranging talk. We thank him for his time.

Nikolai Foster reports on the recent series of litter clean-ups undertaken by the Transition Year pupils, who are taking part in the Gaisce challenge series.
As part of the community involvement for Gaisce, we went litter picking. We went down the back entrance and into Marlay Park. We litter-picked along the paths as well as in the bushes, where a lot of stuff is dumped. We continued out of Marlay and went along the road, finding crisp packets and beer cans along the way.”
We are grateful to the Dún Laoghaire–Rathdown County Council for donating litter picking equipment to the TY.

Academic work continues but there is greater freedom to explore aspects of tradition subjects. Verlaine Bolger reports on an interesting activity in her Spanish lessons recently.

Today in TY Spanish class we made “chocolate con churros”. We decided to research Spanish recipes and make this popular Spanish dessert. We split up into three groups, as we had to socially distance. One group started by melting the chocolate in the simmering cream, the second group weighed the flour, butter and mixed this with water and an egg, while the third group were taking care of heating the pans and adding the oil etc…. We ended up with the dough and then piped it into the hot oil. It quickly took shape and the final result, deliciously freshly made sugary churros!! We dipped the churros into melted chocolate and everyone really liked them. The churros were a great success, everyone participated and had a great time! This was my first time making churros and I was very proud of my efforts“.

There have also been opportunities to try new subjects this year, including our new formal lessons in Mandarin.

In summary, it’s already been a busy time for the Transition Year pupils and we have been delighted with their efforts to engage with the various activities, despite the challenging environment. Well done!

Below is a photo album of all Transition Year events which will be updated as the year progresses.

Form IV pupil, Elys Walker, reports on the recent Transition Year trip to Causey Farm.

On Wednesday the 9th of September, the Transition Year went to Causey Farm, in Meath. We left around 1:00 pm in the afternoon and arrived in Causey Farm at around 2:00 pm. We were split into three groups and sent off to different locations. First, we baked bread. We only needed six ingredients, white flour, wholemeal flour, bicarbonate soda, salt, an egg and buttermilk. We all found it funny that there were no exact measurements for the ingredients. Instead, we used a mug to measure out the flour and milk. After we put our bread in the oven, we went for a walk around the farm. We saw alpacas, a camel, pigs, cows and we even caught a sheep.

After we finished our tour of the farm, we got changed into our old clothes to go to the bog. All 20 of us in group 1 climbed into the back of a trailer. There were no seats! We were driven by a tractor down the road to the bog. The trip took 10 minutes. When we arrived at the bog, we had to get a safety briefing on how to jump into the bog and how to get out. We were told to jump in and land with our legs in front of us. To get out of the bog we had to push all the mud off our legs, then hook our hands underneath our knees and pull our legs out. When we finally jumped into the bog, it was so hard to get out! The mud was so heavy and trying to clamber back up the bank was really hard as our legs kept sinking back into the mud. By the end of the bog jumping, we were all covered in mud and our arms were so tired. We got back onto the trailer and went to get cleaned off. We went into a lake to wash the mud off. We then got changed back into our dry clothes.

We also played the Bodhrán, a traditional Irish drum. It was quite hard to get the rhythm right and to play in time with everyone else. Just before we left the farm, we collected our loaves of bread which were fresh out of the oven. We then got back on the bus and started the journey back to school, stopping off at McDonald’s en route! We arrived back at school at 8:30 pm, and everyone was exhausted from a brilliant day. All of TY would like to thank Ms. Kilfeather for organising this trip and to Ms Lynch, Mr Ryan and Mr Clarke who came with us. We all had an amazing day and it was a great opportunity to get to know our year better.

We are alive and well in spite of the times, determined to carry on and enjoy ourselves. Please do share this video with any friends who may be looking at schools for their children at the moment.

Applications for admission for day places for the academic year 2021 / 2022 open on Thursday, October 1st 2020 and close on Wednesday, October 21st (in line with the Admissions Act 2018).

Parents of prospective pupils should fill out the attached Application Form. Full details on Admissions can be found in the Admissions Policy and on our dedicated Admissions Page.

Application Form

All enquiries to


Coady Architects have produced a short video which gives an excellent account of the development of Whispering House in 2018-19, showing with drone footage how it fits beautifully into the centre of the College campus.


Please find below the Annual Admission Notice, outlining the timeline for Admission in 2021 and the number of pupils that we are hoping to admit. For full details on the College admissions process, click here.

Last night a small House group attended Evensong, and the Warden gave the first sermon of the school year. You can listen to this below:

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