In May 2018, coinciding with celebrations for the College’s 175th anniversary, a new book is being published, supplementing the two key historical books about the College, G.K. White’s A History of St. Columba’s College, 1843-1974 and Ninian Falkiner and Patrick Wyse Jackson’s A Portrait of St Columba’s College, 1843-2013.
Floreat Columba: 100 years of ‘The Columban’ magazine, 1879 to 1979 is a rich selection that ranges from the most solemn moments in the life of the College in these years to the trivial, bizarre and off-beat. It has been compiled and edited by the Sub-Warden, Julian Girdham, following the work of Patrick Hugh Lynch, who digitally captured the magazines in recent years.
This is a history of the everyday life of pupils and staff, and of the campus itself: the building of the current Chapel, the Great Fire of 1896, the Chapel Square, the Orpen Building, the extraordinary creation of the front drive by boys and staff in 1939, the Kennedy Steps, Founders, the swimming pool, the Science Block and more. But also during this time there were two World Wars, the 1916 Easter Rising, the War of Independence and the Civil War, and the book gives insights into how the College was affected by both world and local events.
Locally, there was the sudden death of a Warden, a school trip to Berlin in 1938, the Big Snow of 1947 (which puts the 2018 ‘Beast from the East’ in context), the arrival of junior boys (the ‘Rubber Ducks’) and then of the first girls in 1971.
And there is the unexpected: a teacher who fought a duel with the cousin of the Emperor of France, a Leinster Senior Cup win in rugby, 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, the abolition of bowler hats as a uniform requirement, the sensational international scandal witnessed on the first skiing trip, and the spectacular way an Old Columban delivered his St. Columba’s Day greetings.
There are many Old Columbans in these pages, including the great figures of College history such as R.M. Gwynn and Richard Orpen, as well as William Leech, C.S. Marriott, Lionel Munn, Sir Stanley Cochrane, Rex Ingram, Oisin Kelly, Sir Dermot Boyle, Patrick Pye, William Trevor as well as less familiar names.
The book has black and white illustrations, and an accompanying DVD of original editions of the magazine is included with the first 250 copies. It costs €10: contact firstname.lastname@example.org to order a copy. You can also buy it online here now (£9 plus postage).
[Copies of A Portrait, which gathers together a huge collection of fascinating photographs along with a commentary, can also be ordered from the College at €10 each (postage costs are extra).]
Both books are featured on the College’s new Gift Ideas page.
UPDATE: MAY 2019. As a result of the research into this book, an extraordinary discovery: the Barnardo Films of the 1930s. Read about this here, and watch below.