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.

 

UPDATE:

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.
and
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.

The College thanks sincerely Siobhán Tulloch, who has sent us a highly evocative collection of photographs from 1922-24. They feature her uncle John David Gwynn, and there are also letters to do with her great-uncles Lucius and Arthur Gwynn who were pupils at the College in the 1880s. They were great sportsmen in cricket and rugby, especially Lucius, but unfortunately both died in their twenties.

Click here for a transcription of the relevant part of a letter (seen in the images below) from Lucius Gwynn to his aunt, about a disciplinary incident at the school.

Another document is a Foot-Races programme from 1862. One of the athletes, R.D. O’Brien,was the uncle of Lucius Gwynn and great-uncle of John David Gwynn.

The photographs, now almost 100 years ago, show a selection of sporting and other activities and can seen below with some captions.

 

 

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

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

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

Last Friday, September 8th 2017, saw the inaugural All-Ireland Senior Prefect Leadership Conference at St Columba’s. The College welcomed forty three pupils from fourteen schools across Ireland, both the north and south.  This is a first in Ireland. The response from attendees was tremendous. By the end of the day a network of senior prefects across Ireland had been set up and there were requests for a follow up conference at some point during the year. “The Unreasonables”, a group of inspirational young men and women from the UK with a passion for entrepreneurial leadership, facilitated the day.

We were also joined by Rosy Temple, an Old Columban and former St. Columba’s College Senior Prefect (now Irish Sales Manager for Rebel Kitchen) challenged the attendees to be their own person and to step outside of the box. Pupils were encouraged in their understanding of themselves and what holds them back, in personal branding – how the world views you as opposed to how you want to be viewed – and in public speaking – all essential skills for quality in leadership. We look forward to the year ahead and all that these empowered young people have to offer in their schools.

On Thursday 1st June in the Big Schoolroom, Old Columban Alex Panayotou will talk to all V, IV, II, I and Primary (those in exam Forms are welcome too).

A motivational speaker based in Spain and Greece, with an extraordinary story in extreme-long-distance running, Alex’s talk will be called “Dare to Dream – Dare to be You”.

Alex will based her talk on some of her own experiences, and focus on personal excellence, self-esteem, knowing yourself, accepting yourself, finding your passion and path, trusting yourself, empathy and team spirit, and emotional intelligence.

Alex left the College thirty years ago (she is in Dublin for her thirty-year reunion at the weekend, a close bond that has persisted over the decades), and has kept in close touch since. She knows the importance of  being part of such a community, and the fact that this is not the norm in most schools. The synergies and relationships that are created here are truly unique, and can help us all moving forward in our lives.

Alex also contributed a testimonial to our new prospectus:

“”St. Columba’s helped shape me into who I am today – my inner strength, my passion for sports, adventure, the arts, learning, and interpersonal relationships were nurtured through the unique curriculum, and helped enormously in the development of my career. My home away from home: the pupils and staff were my family.”

Check out her website, including videos, here.

We were delighted to welcome back eleven Old Columbans today as speakers for this year’s Transition Year Careers Morning. The speakers took part in some career “speed dating” rotating around small groups of pupils, speaking with them about their roles and taking questions for 10 minutes. It was a great event and we were delighted to see our former pupils report great successes in their careers to date. The speakers this year were Jaspar Pickersgill (Royal Navy Engineer), Klara Douglas (Airbnb), Adam Philpot (Brooks Sports), Emma Mallon (Screentime ShinAwiL), Georgie Smithwick (Diageo), Aifric Tracey (J&S Automotive), Jack Dunne (Windmill Lane Recording Studios), Emma Klyne (Leading Social), Tom Crampton (Actavo), Jessica Dean (eBay) and Ian McKinley (Benetton Treviso). A huge thank you to all the speakers for giving so generously of their time.