On Saturday 17th June at 2.00pm a service in memory of former Warden, D.S. Gibbs, will be held in the Chapel.
David Gibbs was Warden of the College from 1974 to 1988, a time of great changes in the College, which he successfully implemented. He died on June 21st 2020, but pandemic restrictions meant that a proper memorial service was delayed. All Old Columbans and friends of the College are most welcome to attend the service; further details will be given here in due course.

The first girls entered the College 51 years ago – just four of them, who lived in Mrs Caird’s house. Through the rest of the 1970s, the numbers built up in Fifth and Sixth Forms, before in the early 1980s girls started to arrive in the Junior Forms, creating the House called Beresford, and full co-education developed. On Saturday, an event (delayed by the pandemic from last year’s 50th anniversary) took place in the College to mark this important event in our history.

53 Old Columban women returned on a pleasant day; all had entered the school between 1971 and 1981. Before lunch there was a short service in Chapel, followed by a tour of the grounds, and then a lunch in Whispering House, at which the Warden, and Sarah Love (the first female Chair of the Fellows) spoke. We were delighted that Gaye Caird was able to be present as the Bursary in her name was launched. Lunch went on well into the afternoon! Particular thanks go to Sonia Young, Foundation Manager, for organising the whole event so well, and Natalie Campbell (Catering Manager) and her staff.

Remembrance in Ireland is not easy, at least not when it comes to the First World War, where, it is estimated, up to 50,000 Irish soldiers may have lost their lives. For a century it has been fraught with complexity and I, as an Englishman, cannot claim to fully understand the situation in Ireland in the early twentieth century. The ‘War to End all Wars’ (what a sad phrase that is right now) ended in 1918, but the War of Independence finished in 1922 and it complicated the act of remembering, since those who died in Flanders Fields had been fighting for the British Empire, of which Ireland was no longer a part. So for thousands of families, rather than proudly telling the stories of the husbands and sons who died, rather than seeing their names inscribed on monuments and commemorated in annual acts of remembrance, it was considered politic to keep the pain to themselves and bury it. Many of those Irish heroes never got the thanks that they deserved or that their families craved.

100 years is a long time and times have changed. No longer is it considered unacceptable to recall a great-grandfather who died at the Somme, or a great-uncle who sank in the mud at Passchendaele. To remember them is not a political statement, or a denial of the sacrifice of good men who died in the fight to gain freedom from my country’s rule. It is allowed now to simply remember the pain and the suffering and the grief felt by so many families who said goodbye to their loved ones and never saw them again.

There is a chapel in Ypres called St. George’s Memorial Chapel. On the walls of this chapel a large number of brass plaques have been placed by the most famous schools in Great Britain and Northern Ireland. However, there is no plaque anywhere there that remembers those from schools now in the Republic who made the ultimate sacrifice. When I first went there three years ago, I determined to put that right.

This Wednesday a group of Old Columbans and staff are making a short pilgrimage to Ypres. We will lay a wreath in the daily ceremony at the Menin Gate and make a tour of some of the sites that are significant to the Irish experience of the war. Then, on the Friday morning, we are going to hold a simple service in St. George’s Chapel to dedicate the plaque that we have commissioned in memory of the 72 former pupils and staff who died in the war. That number does not compare to the many hundreds from some of England’s greatest public schools who died, but in the years 1890-1914 St. Columba’s was a very small school and 72 dead represents an extraordinary proportion of the community. We will read out all their names and try, vainly, to do justice to the pain of their families.

It just feels appropriate that these young Irish men, who died in that awful conflict, should be remembered alongside so many others, who were their compatriots at the time.


Mark Boobbyer, Warden.

April 2022

On March 12th 2020, the Taoiseach announced from Washington DC that all Irish schools would close that day due to the impending pandemic threat. The Sixth Form then thus never got the chance to end their school careers as normal, and go through all the rituals associated with leaving school.

Yesterday, at last under a pure blue sky, they returned to the College, many of them with their parents, and we had a chance to say a proper goodbye. Firstly there was a Chapel service at which the Warden greeted the visitors, three favourite hymns were sung, the former Senior Prefect Megan Bulbulia spoke on behalf of the year, and prayers were said by the Chaplain. You can read the Warden’s words below.

This was followed by a presentation ceremony in the sunshine outside Whispering House, with sports’ awards and Parents’ Association gifts being handed out, and then a tea, before all headed off for further festivities off campus.


The Warden:

745 days ago, March 12th 2020, is a day I remember very well and I am sure it is etched permanently in all of our memories. To cast our minds back, the virus that had started in China, had arrived in the north of Italy in February and was getting closer to these shores. I was due to take a parents’ trip to Florence in late February, but decided that it might have looked slightly cavalier to head off to Italy on a pleasure trip at that moment, so that trip was cancelled at the last minute. We thought we might rearrange it for the Autumn. The first few cases of Coronavirus had appeared in Ireland and rumour was growing that schools could close early for the end of term and staff and pupils were a little jittery. One or two pupils were even wearing masks, which we thought was over the top and creating an unnecessary sense of panic. Common sense Irish people don’t wear masks, we thought, perhaps considering it as a sign of weakness or surrender. I thought the situation called for some decisive leadership, so at the end of morning chapel I confidently strode to the front here to reassure everyone that it was business as usual…that if schools were to close early, which was unlikely, the government would obviously give us plenty of notice and we needed to stay focused on the task at hand. It was a good performance…I strode back to my seat, sure that I had delivered a strong and clear message. Two hours later Leo Varadkar closed schools with immediate effect! So much for my reassuring and wise words!

The news went round the school like wildfire and the message went out to parents that flights would need to be rearranged and that any pupils unable to leave that day would be allowed to stay until the next day. It was amazing how pupils who could not get themselves sorted to hand their essays in on time, unless it was for Mr. Finn of course, nor carry out restriction properly for Mr. Higgins, nor get motivated to turn up to games on time, could suddenly organise international flights around the world at a moment’s notice and get out of here within what seemed like minutes. By that evening we had about 20 pupils left in the school.

Of course, they took the minimal amount of belongings, because we were going to see them all in a few weeks…two weeks of online work, three weeks of holiday and we would all be back, once the Coronavirus was gone and life was back to normal. But, as we know, for all of you, that was your last ever day physically at school and we never got the chance to say goodbye. Some of you came back to get your stuff, creeping in individually by appointment, when we could be sure that you would not run into anyone else, but for those who live abroad Gillian and her heroic team, once it was clear that there would be no return during the following term, spent hours and hours boxing up your things and shipping them off…and many of you have not been back here until this afternoon. I promised that we would organise a farewell in the Autumn of 2020, then the Spring of 2021, then it was delayed again and again…and finally here we are…745 days later. In actual fact, we are in the middle of by far our worst outbreak among the staff and pupils at the moment, which is why you may not see some of those you were expecting. I hope that this will not be a super-spreader event!

So let me start by saying to you pupils, or rather Old Columbans, that it is an absolute joy and pleasure to see you here this afternoon and the fact that so many of you have made a big effort to be here reflects I would suggest both a love of the College and also a need to finally close out this chapter of your lives in an appropriate way. You haven’t changed that much, although some of you are a little hairier.

It is also a great pleasure to welcome back your parents, to whom, like you, we never got a chance to say farewell. You had been standing on touchlines together for years, sat on committees, hosted each other’s’ children and you also were deprived of seeing your child proudly leave school and of saying goodbye to your fellow travellers. I am touched that so many of you have come to be with us today and hopefully enjoy a social and convivial weekend in Dublin.

Turning back to the pupils, there is no doubt that your cohort, the leavers of 2020, got a very raw deal. It was tough for everyone, but you got the worst of all worlds. You missed out on the rites of passage that go along with leaving school: your final house singing competition (it hasn’t happened since, but we are doing it early next term), sports day, sports dinner, Columba’s Day, prize-giving, graduation…even the actual experience of sitting your LC exams (although I know, looking around here, that there were a few for whom that was a huge relief). Then, having decided that there was no point in having a gap year, since there was nothing that you could do anyway, as there were no jobs and no travel was allowed, you headed off to university, to online lectures and remote freshers weeks. You cannot relive your last term at school, nor have your first year at university all over again, but I do hope that coming back here today gives you a chance for some closure. And I do hope that your university experience has got better since its rather sad beginning.

It wasn’t easy for you, but it hasn’t been easy here either. There were times in those first few months of lockdown in 2020 when I wasn’t sure whether we would have a school at all in the September, as there was uncertainty over whether boarding schools would be allowed to operate and, if they were, whether international boarders would be allowed into the country. There were pre-term quarantine periods that tested all of us, including an almost total absence of many of the things that make Columban life so colourful: concerts, full school chapel, sports matches, debating, plays. It was very hard work and demoralising at times but we survived, somehow, through the incredible hard work of a lot of extraordinary people, and the wonderful support of staff, parents and pupils…and we have managed to keep smiling through it all. Or at least most of the time…I know that there have been some tears along the way as well.

Have a wonderful and I look forward to chatting to all of you later.



The College community sends its best wishes and congratulations to the former Sub-Warden, Housemaster of Stackallan and Geography teacher Mr Norman Lush, on his 100th birthday today. He celebrates this event at home in Somerset together with his wife Joyce, and the rest of his family, including his Old Columban children Nicola, Colin and Tessa.

Norman had a long and distinguished career at the College, retiring in the mid 80s. He and Joyce subsequently moved to England. Several of his former colleagues have sent him a photo book with their own best wishes, and scenes from the school to which he gave so much.

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.

On Sunday 1st March the late Christiaan Vis, former Head of Art at the College, was remembered in a celebratory event at Orlagh Estate. A large number of family, former colleagues, friends and former pupils attended.

Reverend Michael Heaney, former Chaplain at the College, thanked Hudia Vis and her family for inviting everyone, and then handed over to the Sub-Warden, Julian Girdham, who read out a series of comments from Old Columbans about the impact Chris had had on them: “His classes were the highlight of the week”, “His art classes to me meant freedom. Freedom of expression, to push boundaries, from the confines of the regulated SCC life”, “His sense of humour was wicked but kind”, “A great teacher, always honest and funny”, “An inspiration and a shepherd to me in my callow teenage years”, were typical of the comments.

Michael Heaney then read out a wonderful tribute from Tim Macey, former Warden (who could not be present), including these observations:
He was very respectful, welcoming and polite, yet I got the distinct impression that he was frequently having to suppress a little chuckle at the bizarre formalities of College life. In fact this ambiguity may have been at the heart of his great success as Art teacher at the College. He certainly had a great sense of humour and there must have been many occasions when it was badly needed.
He was wise and thoughtful, independent and sound in judgement, in every respect the mature senior member of staff, yet at any moment that impish teenager would reassert himself, to the amusement and enrichment of us all. I remember Chris with great respect as artist and teacher, with affection as colleague and with the warmest thanks for the laughter and colour that he brought into all our lives. To Hudia and to all those very close to him, I can barely begin to imagine your loss. I hope nevertheless that the warmth that we all feel in our memories of him, even those of us who did not know him really well, will stay with you always. He was a blessing to us all.

Michael Heaney followed up with prayers, and then there was a further tribute from OC Charlie Hackett, read out by artist Anthony Lyttle, and Chris’s daughter Grainne and son Leonard also spoke, thanking all for their kindness.

To get a good sense of Chris, check out the video interview below from the year 2000 by his colleague Morgan Dockrell, filmed by Garry Bannister.


We are delighted to present an extraordinary discovery on film. In early 2018 the Sub-Warden, while researching old editions of the school magazine for his book Floreat Columba: 100 years of The Columban magazine, 1879-1979, came across repeated references in the 1930s to ‘Mr Barnardo’s film of the College’. This had apparently been regularly shown to the boys, and regularly updated. It seemed extremely unlikely anything remained of it, but the references were intriguing.

Eventually the trail came to the Barnardo fur business in Grafton Street, which was founded in 1812 and is the oldest such surviving family business in the world. Harry Barnardo had entered the College as a very young boy in 1934, and left in 1941, and it was his father, a keen amateur film-maker, who had put together the film. Harry continued his father’s interest, becoming very involved in the Dublin cinema world, and when he died (still only in his 50s) in 1978 his widow Caroline kept the film paraphernalia passed down from his own father.

So it was that in early July 2018 three 16mm films were discovered in the attic of the family home. When transferred into digital form, there was revealed an extraordinary amount of material from the 1930s of the school in action: swimming, cricket, prize-giving, the surfacing of the main drive, the openings of buildings, the visit of Ireland’s first President, Douglas Hyde and more. You can now watch an edited and captioned selection from those reels below (the music has been added), including some sequences in colour.

This is a very special discovery.

The Barnardo Films from St Columba’s College on Vimeo.

The Art and Music Prize events took place over the weekend, on Saturday and Sunday nights respectively. These events traditionally bring to a close our annual Arts Week.

On Saturday evening we welcomed artist and Old Columban Conrad Frankel to speak with the whole school on his journey as an artist and, of course, to judge the entries for the prize. After a fascinating and humorous talk, Conrad announced the winners in each category. The prizes went to Jeanne Levesque (Senior Art), Tania Stokes (Senior Craft), Verlaine Bolger (Photography, one of her photos featured above), Emma Hinde (Junior Art) and Isabel Warnock (Junior Craft).

The Music Prizes Concert was held on Sunday, March 30th; the adjudicator was Mr Jonathan Browner. He is currently headmaster in Educate Together School in Bray, but was previously Director of Music in Sandford Park School. It was a very entertaining evening with performers from 1st to 6th Form. He gave a very good adjudication and especially praised the high standard of singing in the College. Prizes were awarded to Harry Oke Osanyitolu, Toby Green, Alexandra Murray Donaldson, Alex Russell, Andre Stokes and Songyon Oh.

Well done to everyone involved in a hugely entertaining and engaging weekend, but especially to the prize winners!

A hearty congratulations to the Leaving Certificate Class of 2018 on their record breaking average points score of 483. This, we are confident in saying despite the lack of national statistics, places St. Columba’s as one of the top performing schools in the country. 7% of our pupils achieved over 600 points, with one candidate attaining 6H1’s and therefore the maximum points score of 625. A phenomenal 48% of our pupils achieved over 500 points, 81% achieved over 400 points and, finally, 97% of our pupils achieved over 300 points. On the grades obtained across all candidates 17% of all exams sat were awarded H1’s, 41% either a H1 or a H2 and 61% either a H1, H2 or H3 – which is extraordinary. A considerable 85% of all exams were sat at Higher Level.

Our pupils worked extremely hard over the past two years, and in particular in the final term, and we are delighted to celebrate their achievements today. We celebrate every pupils’ results – from the pupil obtaining the maximum score to the pupil who struggled throughout but obtained their target, however modest. Of course, although it should seem obvious, the results obtained in these exams are not a true measure of a pupil’s life in school. Pupils are not remembered for their CAO points total but for their contributions to St. Columba’s on the stage, sports-field or in the classroom, for their attitude, work ethic, personality, humour and talents, of which this cohort had many.

We now wish each and every pupil success in their next big adventure, be that university, a gap year or another path entirely. Congratulations once again – we are all extremely proud of you!

During the recent 175th Anniversary Weekend a collection of paintings & sculpture were on display in the College. Some items in this collection are for sale, with a percentage of the proceeds going towards the College Development Fund. Below is an album of the displayed work. For any questions or to enquire about purchasing a piece contact Mrs. Cathy Boobbyer by email: cboobbyer@staff.stcolumbas.ie. See the attached leaflet for full details on the pieces and their creators.

A spectacular weekend’s activities concluded last night with a lovely Chapel service at 6pm. Old Columbans from around the world, parents, staff and pupils took part in a huge variety of events blessed with perfect weather.

It all kicked off with the Old Columban Society drinks party in the Dining Hall of Trinity College, Dublin, with almost 300 attending. President of the Society Ian Fraser welcomed everyone, and the Chairman of the Fellows Gavin Caldwell also spoke. Simultaneously a large gathering of Sixth Formers and their parents were in the College at the traditional Leavers’ dinner. See an album of photos here.

The next day marked the annual St Columba’s Day celebrations, with the Chapel service followed by prize-giving in the Sports Hall. The speakers were Gavin Caldwell, the Warden, and Senior Prefect Kitty Morris, while there were presentations of various kinds by pupils such as Tiernan Mullane (drama), Grace Goulding, Isabelle Townshend and Orla Conlon-Batey (poetry), André Stokes, Tania Stokes, Sam Lawrence, Alex Lawrence and the Junior Choir under Mr McDonald (all music), and science pupils. Former Wardens Tim Macey and Lindsay Haslett were in attendance, and there was a filmed greeting from David Gibbs.

A fine lunch was had on Chapel Square, the BSR and Dining Hall in the sunshine.

Then the weekend really got going for Old Columbans and other visitors, with 400 people attending the Ball in the Sports Hall, preceded by a lovely drinks gathering in the Warden’s Garden. The Warden welcomed all at the Ball, asking OCs to stand according to the Warden of their time. A splendid meal was capped by a male-voice choir staff appearance by Barry Finn, Julian Girdham, Tristan Clarke, Eunan McDonald, Fraser Morris and John Fanagan, who performed two songs with familiar tunes but unfamiliar lyrics (adapted to the College traditions). The band Duvet played until 1.30pm, and eventually all drifted off in the small hours.

Sunday was much more informal, but equally enjoyable. Cricket, golf and hiking went on in the continuing sunshine, there were tours by the Sub-Warden, an art exhibition in Whitehall by Old Columbans, bouncy castles for smaller family members, and then a delicious barbeque on Chapel Square produced by surely-exhausted caterers.

The Chapel service was the perfect end. Mrs Malone-Brady had been rehearsing earlier with the choir, who sang several pieces, including Vivaldi’s ‘Gloria’ and Holst’s ‘Turn Back O Man’. The former Chaplain, Reverend Michael Heaney, read the first lesson and Gavin Caldwell the second. Prayers were said for all parts of the College community by the Chaplain, the Sub-Warden Julian Girdham, Christopher Hone, Sinéad Clarkin and Alex Owens, and traditional hymns were rousingly sung.

The sun was still shining strongly as the campus settled into peacefulness.

Particular thanks are due to the 175 Committee under chair Rosie Johnson, and organisers on-the-ground Sonia Young and Cathy Boobbyer as well as many many other helpers. Our thanks also go to Patrick Hugh Lynch for generously being at all events and photographing them; albums are here (TCD) and here (SCC).

Check out a Twitter timeline of weekend events here.

Old Columbans are currently travelling from all over the world for our special 175th anniversary weekend, which coincides with the annual St Columba’s Day Celebrations. We have already welcomed visitors from places such as Singapore and Bangkok who have been seeing the school, and tonight 300 OCs and their guests attend a drinks party in the Dining Hall of Trinity College, Dublin.

Tomorrow sees the prize day marked by a Chapel service at 11am and the prize-giving itself in the Sports Hall at 12pm, followed by a lunch for parents and their guests. Then the Sports Hall will be readied for the evening Ball, with drinks starting at 7pm and the Ball itself at 8.30pm. 400 people have booked places.

Sunday sees a variety of sporting and more informal social activities on the campus, including cricket, golf and hiking, and a barbeque, with everything being rounded off by a Chapel Service at 6pm.

The College is looking at its best and we are excited to welcome so many old friends. Follow #scc175 on Twitter over the coming days.

To coincide with the 175th anniversary, the Sub-Warden, Julian Girdham, has just published Floreat Columba, a book based on the first 100 years of The Columban, the school magazine. It is a rich compilation about all sorts of elements of College life from 1879 to 1979, from the most serious (the effects of the world wars, the fire that nearly destroyed the College in 1896) to the most bizarre and off-beat (a College Museum of scorpions, monkey-skins and spiders’ nests, ice-skating in Marlay estate, the death of a pet owl in a desk, a deer visiting classes for biscuits and cake, a rat being poisoned by a Library book, and much more).

You can find out more about the book here, and see many of the illustrations. It costs €10, including a DVD of the original files, and can be reserved for collection in the College by emailing jgirdham@staff.stcolumbas.ie. Postage is extra.

Today, May 17th, we congratulate David O’Morchoe on his 90th birthday. An Old Columban (1941 to 1946), The O’Morchoe has had a profound and positive influence on the College over many decades, most significantly as a long-serving Fellow and Chairman of the board and of the Executive Committee. He is also a Vice-President of the Old Columban Society and Chair of the OCS Bursary Fund sub-committee. He has given enormously of his time and wise advice over many years to the College, and we thank him sincerely for this.

In 2007 The O’Morchoe was awarded the CBE for his services UK-Irish Relations and the cause of British Veterans in Ireland. He retired from the British Army as a Major-General after a ‘glittering military career‘, including being Commander-in-Chief of the army of the Sultan of Oman. He is also a former President of the Royal British Legion in Ireland, and in 2011 showed Queen Elizabeth the grounds of the Irish Memorial War Garden at Islandbridge during her state visit.

He is the hereditary chief of the O’Morchoe / Murphy clan.

Below is a selection of photographs taken by Patrick Hugh Lynch.

The launch of the College’s Development Office and 175th Anniversary Celebrations took place on Thursday evening in Whitehall, with details of the activities and projects which will commemorate the 175 years of excellence in education. The newly formed Development Office, headed up by Sonia Young, will focus on garnering philanthropic support for the College’s future growth. It will manage a series of funds including the Old Columban Society Bursary Fund (which provides financial assistance to sons and daughters of former pupils to attend the College), the College Bursary Fund (proving financial bursaries to pupils with no previous connection to the College), the Annual Fund (which will direct money to various capital projects within the College) and, finally, the 175th Anniversary Fund (which will support the College’s ambitious plans for 2018 – the new Social Hub, pictured below). For more information on the Development Office please visit the new dedicated webpage here.

The new Social Hub will be located in the Warden’s Garden (opposite the library) and will transform Whispering House into a vibrant social space for pupils.

In addition to the launch of the Development Office the College’s 175th Anniversary Microsite went live last night. The new site details the all the various events taking place during the year, more detailed plans and images of the Social Hub, 175th anniversary news, articles on the evolution of the College since its 150th anniversary and a detailed history of the College in the earlier years. The 175th Anniversary celebrations will centre around the June Bank Holiday weekend in 2018, traditionally the St. Columba’s Day celebrations, and will include a gala ball, invitational cricket & hockey fixtures, a family barbecue, a golf outing and much much more. Visit the microsite here (175.stcolumbas.ie).

A service was held in the Chapel this afternoon in memory of Old Columban Orla McCooey. About 60 of Orla’s family, friends, OC peers, teachers and others attended, and the service was conducted by the Chaplain, Reverend Daniel Owen.

Those gathered sang ‘Abide with Me’ and ‘Brother, sister, let me serve you’, and in between there were readings from Orla’s contemporaries at the College: ‘Remember me’ from Ciana Taylor; Wordsworth’s ‘Daffodils’ read by Jessica Beresford; Kipling‘s ‘If’ from Jack Goulding; ‘She is Gone’ by David Harkins read by Molly Maire; Psalm 23 read by Eliza Hancock.

Orla’s mother Sarah then gave a moving address, emphasising how strongly Orla’s Columban friends have supported her family over the last year. After the service, all went to the bench organised by Orla’s friends outside Iona House, alongside the Japanese maple donated by the McCooey family, and Conor expressed his thanks.

All then went to Whitehall for tea and chat.

Updated Monday November 13th 2017, 8:00am

Everyone within the St. Columba’s College community would like to send their heartfelt congratulations to Old Columban Ian McKinley who made his international rugby debut with his newly adopted home Italy on Saturday. Ian was a star during his time at St. Columba’s, leading the Junior Cup Team to Duff Cup success and later the Senior Cup Team to McMullen Cup – they then went onto the semi-final of the Vinnie Murray Cup and the Leinster School Cup proper later in the same season). After leaving St. Columba’s Ian went on to represent Leinster and Ireland at U20 level, captaining the side during the Junior World Cup in Japan. Tragically, during a domestic game in 2010, Ian damaged his right eye but, amazingly, he returned to the field six months later. However, he subsequently lost the sight in the eye and was forced to retire from playing rugby.

Ian spent some time coaching at St. Columba’s after his retirement until he was offered the opportunity to travel to northern Italy to coach at underage level there. Ian, along with his brother Philip, came across a new protective goggle and helped to get them recognised on a trial basis by World Rugby. He came out of retirement and began playing for his new club Leonorso Udine before joining the Italian side Viadana on a professional contract. His performances there caught the attention of Pro14 side Zebre who offered him a contract after some impressive cameos during international windows. Ian was instrumental in the goggles being recognised by all nations in the last few years allowing him to return to play on Irish soil and to also represent the Barbarians. Ian has since moved to Benetton Rugby (formerly known as Treviso) and his form this season and last – he is arguable Italy’s form out half – earned him the call up to Conor O’Shea’s Italy for their November test series. He was named on the bench to play Fiji on Saturday, coming on for the final 20 minutes and scoring a vital penalty. Italy won 19-10. Ian was the first player to use in the goggles in the Pro14, the European Champions Cup and now at international level.

Ian’s story is an inspirational tale of courage and persistence. We are immensely proud of him at St. Columba’s and sent him this video message at the weekend. We now hope he has a long international career ahead.