The tradition College ‘Trips Week’ takes place in the first week of June. As the Junior Cycle and Leaving Certificate examinations begins, pupils from non-exam years go on a series of trips. Many pupils from Forms I & II travelled to the south of France, visiting Nîmes, Montpellier, Pont du Gard, Avignon, Carcassonne and more, while those remaining at home participated in a series of day trips, including Explorium science museum, Dublin Zoo and Emerald Park.

Form IV (Transition Year) pupils travelled to Achill Island for a week of water sports, camping and outdoor adventures while our Form V pupils made the trip to the Burren in Co. Clare for biology and geography fieldwork. There was time for some rest and relaxation too, with a boat trip to Inis Oirr, the smallest of the Aran Islands, taking in a view of the Cliffs of Moher on their return and some surfing on Lahinch strand.

Below is a photo album from the various trips which took place last week. Many thanks to the staff who organised and accompanied the various trips and to the pupils for their excellent attitude and behaviour.

A wet April meant the summer games programme kicked in a little later than usual, with pitches taking their time to dry out. When things finally got up and running, our Senior Boys Cricket team, in particular, found their groove reaching the Leinster Cricket schools final for the second year in a row. Unfortunately though, despite fine individual performance from Jan Dijkstra (50), Seb Dijkstra (58) and Harry Smith Huskinson (22), it sadly ended in a second final loss in a row, this time against Rush. Rush batted first, amassing a fine 278/4. St. Columba’s were on track during the early stages but a few quick wickets saw them end on 192 runs, losing by 86.

In athletics, Archie Monaghan (Triple Jump) and Darren Ulogwara (High Jump) who navigated their way through East Leinster and Leinster schools athletics to qualify for the All Ireland event, taking place today in Tullamore.

Hughie Casey and Alannah McCoole were the winners of our annual 8km mountain run, both setting new records. Hughie has won the last three events!

The College recently hosted a golf competition for local primary schools; read about the Lionel Munn competition here. Also in golf news, the staff vs pupils golf competition ended in a draw.

The highlight of the sporting calendar, our annual Sports Day took place last Saturday. In glorious sunshine, our pupils competed across a range of track and field sports (plus a few others), with the blue team finishing in 1st place. The final event the day – the Cloister Dash – saw Kim Guinness and Helena Schoen seeing their names etched on the cup. Click here for a full report and for loads of photos from a great day of sport.

In the annual Sports Dinner, taking place that evening, colours were awarded to 24 pupils for their outstanding contribution to sport in the College. Click here for a full report from Mr Canning.

And so, another Transition Year ends and it has been a rollercoaster ride. Seventy determined, hard working and ambitious young people started the year as they began it – at full speed – with the aim of growing as a person and as an academic. Here is a breakdown of the final term.

In May, many members of our TY took part in a hike along the Wicklow Way, to earn their physical challenge badge for the Gaisce Award. In glorious sunshine, the determined walkers trekked over 50km across some of Ireland’s most stunning trails. There was a visit to Grease in the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre and the annual visit to Causey Farm, for the usual fun in the mud!

Some TY pupils were invited to present work they made for the Architect in Schools Programme at the DLR Lexicon library. Our TY Skills Day took place earlier this term also, with pupils learned some basic DIY, hospitality skills and sewing.

The Transition Year Modern Language evening was held at Trinity College in late April. The overall winner was Delia Brady with prizes also awarded to Lucas Perez Soria and Lina Triebold. The judges were Dr Sarah Alyn-Stacey and Laura Le Cleach from the French Embassy.

The 29th annual Transition Year English Evening was held on Tuesday 28th May in the BSR, with Mr Jameson presenting this celebration of pupil writing. The visiting speaker was teacher Mrs Annie Donnelly, who was most impressed by pieces from Rebekah Fitzgerald Hollywood, Delia Brady, Finn Woolsey, Sofia Walker, Sophie Gibbs, Stella Borrowdale, Grant Fabian, Olive Mud, Cerys Mordaunt and Grace Koch.

Cerys Mordaunt won the TY Academic Prize for her excellent presentation on the brain of teenage girls. Many thanks for Alan Cox, principal of Templecarrig School for judging.

There was a great day trip to the local Explorium Science museum …. and, finally, the final Transition Year Award evening took place last night in Whispering House with multiple subject awards presented to pupils for their academic achievements. The Spirit of Transition Year Award was also presented, for encapsulating all that the Transition Year is designed for, to Safia Walker with Ignacio Suarez announced at the runner up. Full details of those awards can be found here.

Transition Year Photo Album 2023-2024

It’s been an incredibly busy final term for our Transition Year pupils, capping off an extraordinary year (read the end of term report here). Last night, at the prize presentation evening in Whispering House, our Transition Year co-ordinator Ms Lynch wrapped up the year, reflected on the various experiences and, finally, announced the following awards for academic performance across the year:

English: Grace Koch
Business: Felix Strigel
Economics: Giulia Trolese
Art: Rachel Pollock
Chemistry: David Chukwueke
Physical Education: Giulia Trolese
Biology: Polly Pringle
Geography: Naoise Bradley-Brady
Design: Jason Zhang
History: Elisabeth Sebbesse
Music: Cerys Mordaunt
Computer Studies: Eoin Siegel
Religion: Ignacio Suarez
French: Felix Strigel
Spanish: Grace Koch
Mathematics: Herbert Feng
Irish / Gaeilge: Dairbhre Murray
Classics: Safia Walker
Physics: Felix Strigel

Ms Lynch also announced another award – the Spirit of Transition Year Award – to the pupil who encapsulates what the Transition Year is design for: embracing every opportunity imaginable, growing and learning as both an academic and a person. We are delighted to announced this years winner as:

Spirit of Transition Year: Safia Walker
Runner-up: Ignacio Suarez

Safia Walker with the Spirit of Transition Year Cup

Mr Canning, our Head of Sport, reports on last Saturday’s Sports Dinner and the awarding of ‘Colours’.

The annual ‘College Traditional Team Sports Dinner’ was held on Saturday the 25th of May after the colour and fun filled Sports Day. Many thanks to Mr. Havenga and all the teaching staff and external coaches who helped make it a special day filled with colour and combining fun and traditional athletics events.  

During the evening we celebrate the participation and successes of our traditional teams over the year. Of course, individual sporting success is important but we hold particular store in our pupils’ involvement in a team sport.

Our guest speaker was was Old Columban Sophia Cole who left the College during the Covid evacuation of March 2020. In the Second Form Sophia played on the Senior Girls’ Hockey team that won the Senior Schools’ Trophy Cup. She represented Leinster at Under 16 and under 18 level.  She also represented Ireland at Under 16, Under 18, Under 21 and Under 23. This included playing for Ireland in the Junior World Cup in South Africa in 2022. She was part of the 2020 Senior Training Squad for the Tokyo Olympics. She was awarded an Ad Astra Sports’ Scholarship to UCD where she is currently the Club Captain.

Sophia was awarded College ‘Colours’ for her hockey achievements while in St.Columba’s and she would certainly have been Sportsperson of 2019-2020 if Covid had not completely disrupted that academic year and beyond.  

In her address to the pupils Sophia talked about her overall sporting experiences. She touched on the camaraderie and closeness of team mates, the travel experiences and the buzz of the competitive match arena. She also talked about the challenges and difficulties of being an elite sportsperson. How under the surface she  experienced anxiety and a lack of self confidence; that she managed to hold this at bay by implementing a focused and determinedly positive mindset reinforced by a systematic mantra whenever those internal doubts surfaced.

She openly shared that she had been playing in considerable pain since her schooldays and was only diagnosed as  suffering from Compartment Syndrome in her calves; while playing in Australia last summer.  She is currently recuperating from a relieving operation on the calves of both legs.  Hopefully, a full recovery will mean that she will be able to play and train pain free in the future. We certainly hope that Sophia’s dream of being part of the Irish Ladies Squad aiming to play in the 2028 Olympics in Los Angeles will be realised.  

Sophia’s talk resonated with our pupils.  The fact that she is only a few years older than them, candidly shared her thoughts and feelings so generously and openly. The fact that she is a fellow Columban made her talk even more special. I cannot thank her enough for giving us her time the day after her final commerce examinations ended. We wish her the very best while travelling through South East Asia before starting her accountancy internship.  LC

College Sports Colours 

We hold great store in what being awarded Colours means. Those who are awarded Colours are exceptional in every way.

  • They have excellent ability and an excellent attitude.
  • They are committed on and off the playing field.
  • They play and practise with consistency.
  • They are reliable and have character, resilience and courage.
  • They are an example to others either as leaders or soldiers on a team.
  • They are the ones who stand up when things are personally challenging or difficult for the team.
  • They are selfless and put others before themselves.
  • They are true team players.

Colours were awarded to 24 pupils this year and they were:

Boys’ BasketballConnor Bermann, Chris Atkins, Finn Tabb

Girls’BasketballAbbie and Raicheal Murray

CricketIsaac Dijkstra, Sean Roets, Sebastian Dijikstra, Harry St.Leger

Boys’ HockeyCristoph Geyer*, Julius Tenge, Joon Schultheiss, Harry St Leger

Girls’ HockeyHelena Schoen, Leopoldine Buenau, Elizabeth Hart

RugbyNoah Kutner, Cameron McKinley, Ned Chambre, Aaron Murray, Tomas Dwyer, Audrey Gardner, Hugo Laurenceau.

Multi Sport Colour (Special Category): Sarah Cron (For consistent commitment to a variety of Senior traditional team sports in the College over more than one year  (Hockey, Basketball, Cricket and Tennis), as well as being consistently involved in all our traditional team sports through her five years in the College)

Sports Persons of the Year

We do not always award this.  The reason is that we have a standard and that standard needs to be met for it to be awarded. We narrowed it down to two candidates this year. Both represented two College Senior Teams Hockey and Cricket for the last two years. They have also represented their country at a variety of age levels.

At Cricket Sebastian Dijikstra has represented Leinster at U15 and U17. He has been on the Leinster Schoolboys’ team for the last two years.  Last year he was on the Irish U17 team and is again. He was also on the U19 training panel and will be on that panel later in the summer.

Harry St. Leger has represented Leinster and Ireland Hockey Teams at U16 and U18 Levels. He also  represented Ireland at an U19 tournament last February. He will be playing for the Leinster Schoolboys cricket team against the MCC.  

The Heads of Sport Committee felt it would be invidious to separate them so they shared the award and the honour.  Joint winners – Sebastian Dijkstra and Harry St. Leger (pictured above with our guest speaker, Sophia Cole).

Sports Team of the Year – Senior Boys’ Cricket XI

The team reached their Leinster final two years in a row. This year’s final was one of a very high quality. St. Columba’s lost the toss and were set the daunting target of 298 runs. The pulses of the game went them and they replied with a creditable 192.

Although they did not win silverware the cricket team are playing in the very top league in the province.  The gained 2nd position last year and maintained it this year. They have four Leinster players on the team and two Irish players. This speaks of the standard they are playing at. On that basis the Senior Boys’ Cricket team beat off strong challenges from both the Senior Girls’ Basketball and Hockey teams.

Many thanks to Rev Owen for his wonderful photos of our very special sporting occasion.

Leadership Awards were presented to ten more worthy recipients this week (Hughie Casey, Gabriel Murphy and John-Jack Beglan O’Connell received Leadership Awards for their excellent charitable endeavours earlier this year), recognising the fine example they set throughout the year to their fellow pupils. This year, the Warden highlighted our young leaders who best represented each of the College values (Kindness, Inclusion, Compassion, Determination and Responsibility). Over 100 nominations were received from both pupils and staff.

This year’s recipients were: Ebah Assebian, Alannah Starbuck, Archie Monaghan, Daniel Moran, Rebecca Flanagan, Harry Powell, Henrike Tertilt, Marianna O’Shaughnessy, Ryan Murphy and Safia Walker.

Last Saturday, the College was once again awash with colourful energy as practically every pupil in the school took part in our annual Sports Day. There were multiple events taking place including the traditional caterpillar and three-legged race, soccer and rugby kicks, basketballl throws, long jump, high jump, shot put, archery, tug of war and more. Every pupil was assigned a team colour, with points accumulating across all the events. The winning team was BLUE, who were rewarded with the traditional ice cream trophies! Many thanks to Mr Havenga for organising this wonderful showpiece and to every pupil who took part.

The traditional end to Sports Day is the Cloister Dash, where our Form VI pupils compete in a race from the “white gate” to chapel square. The winners this year were Kim Guinness and Helena Schoen. Later that day, our annual Sports Dinner took place where appointments were made for next year and ‘Colours’ were awarded to pupils who have contributed to College sports at the highest level. Many thanks to Rev Owen for his excellent photos below!

The 29th Transition Year English Evening was held on Tuesday 30th May in the Big Schoolroom. Again, it was a showcase of some of the best writing done during the year in English classes (there is no competitive element). Mr Jameson hosted the event, and the guest was former English teacher here, Mrs Annie Donnelly, who now works at Loreto Beaufort School.

Speakers (with Mrs Donnelly’s comments in square brackets) were:

  • Rebekah Fitzgerald Hollywood on the nature of true friendship [this was thoughtful, with a clear sense of the person, and an excellent use of the extended metaphor].
  • Delia Brady on her great-grandmother, ‘a person I would bring back from the dead’ [an engaging, fascinating historical essay, powerful as well as moving and tragic].
  • Finn Woolsey on imagining his alternative self, ‘a person I would bring back from the dead’ [this was brilliantly philosophical, very controlled and original].
  • Safia Walker on the proposition that young people have more problems than adults [an essay that was convincing and persuasive].
  • Sophie Gibb with a story, ‘Window to the Soul’ [extremely memorable, with lots of tension and drama, and particularly effective use of sounds]
  • Stella Borrowdale on her first home [a fine focus on family and belonging, with good attention to small things].
  • Grant Fabian with a description of nature [poetic techniques used very well, with strong landscape description].
  • Olive Mui on ‘The Oldest Person I Know’, her grandmother who went through the Chinese Famine [very engaging and original, with a lovely sardonic touch].
  • Cerys Mordaunt imagining meeting up again in 8 years’ time with her friend Polly [excellent attention to detail in this imagining what the transition from adolescence to adulthood might look like].
  • Grace Koch: a story called ‘Alone in the Forest’ [this captured big ideas, and used dialogue very well].

Mrs Donnelly also talked eloquently about the power of English, and how it deals with the most important things in life. She much enjoyed returning to the College, where she worked for two happy years. She also announced the winners of this year’s Premier Awards:

Stella Borrowdale, Delia Brady, Rebekah Fitzgerald Hollywood, Grace Koch, Grace McCarthy, Cerys Mordaunt, Olive Mui, Felix Strigel, Giulia Trolese and Safia Walker.



The long-standing Voices of Poetry event at the end of May provides a pause-point in the year. It is the last major event in the Big Schoolroom, and on a Sunday evening at the end of a busy weekend it gives us all a moment to listen attentively and appreciate great writing.

As always, it featured a mixture of English and other languages. It is remarkable how much one can get out of another language in terms of musicality even if the words are mysterious. Readers did give brief introductions to each of their pieces, and 23 poems were covered in 45 minutes, with Mr Girdham presenting and linking them.

Anton Demenko kicked things off in Ukrainian, followed by an utterly different language from a totally different part of the world: Bibiire Oke-Osanyintolu recited a poem in Yoruba from Nigeria.

The first English poem came from Eoin Siegel – Robert Frost’s famous ‘The Road Taken’, with its resonant final lines 

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.

 

On the thin grounds that both languages start with the letter ‘I’, but on the more substantial ones that they are both beautifully euphonious, Italian and Irish followed, with four poems intertwined and recited by Anna Luisa Sanminiatelli, Euan Flanagan, Francesco Malacarne and Molly Mann.

Shannon Walker Kinsella chose to read Cassandra Wright’s ‘Clandestine Meeting’, and she was followed by three ‘Iberian’ languages – Spanish (Pedro Olea), South American/Venezuelan Spanish (Manuela Nassief) and Portuguese (Kayra Mbanefo).

Congratulations to Nia Jessup, winner of this year’s Junior Poetry Prize for her touching poem ‘My Love’, about her grandmother, which she read out movingly.

Quite a jump then to one of the most unusual European languages, Hungarian (unconnected to any other, apart from, peculiarly, Finnish), from Gaspar Kekessy and Kasimir zu Bentheim.

And another jump to Mr Swift, who marked his interest in golf by reading out John Updike’s tribute to Payne Stewart, who came to a tragic end in 1999 at the age of 42.

Neighbouring France and Germany came next, with poems read out by Olivia Borbath and Vito Wieser, followed by two major languages from further afield, Arabic (Cecilia Corti) and Mandarin Chinese (Merida Zhang).

English rounded things up: Hal Somerville recited Byron’s dramatic ‘The Destruction of Sennacherib‘ from 1815, followed by the Warden again impressively performing one of his many learnt-poems, Rudyard Kipling’s classic ‘If’. Finally, the awarding of the Peter Dix Memorial Prize for Poetry was marked by the Sub-Warden reading out one of Isabella Treacy’s winning poems from her portfolio. Congratulations to her on winning the prize for three years in a row.

As Mr Girdham said at the end, there is nothing better than catching up with some reading in whatever areas pupils like best. And why not some poetry?

Over the last two weeks, the College has held two fabulous events for Old Columbans, one at the Athenaeum Club in London, attended by over a hundred guests, and the other the annual Grace Cup Lunch, for any Old Columban who left the College over 50 years ago; that event was attended by over 70 Old Columbans.

The latter has become an annual highlight of the College calendar, while the London event will hopefully become an annual event as well. Both events were reminders of the strength of the College community and how much it continues to mean to so many people.

Many thanks to Michael Essame OC for taking the photos below at the Grace Cup Lunch and an album from the London event can be found here.

Well done and congratulations to everyone who took part in this year’s Mountain Race which took place yesterday on Kilmashogue Mountain. Introduced in 2018, to celebrate the College’s long-standing running tradition, this is a now an annual event with the winners being awarded a perpetual trophy engraved with their name. The course follows the Wicklow Way for 4 km, starting in Kilmashogue car park, before returning along the same route and back to the starting point, totalling 8 km (5 miles). We are blessed to have so many wonderful trails around us.

Eighteen runners took part this year. Hughie Casey recorded a hattrick of victories in beating his old record by 27 seconds in an outstandingly fast time of 28 minutes 50 seconds, with Archie McKeever in second place in 31:43.

Two girls beat Thea Clare’s record of 38:03. Oleana Cowan ran the course in 37:37 and Alannah McCoole took the victory in 36:20 beating the old record by 1 minute 43 seconds.

Thanks to Mr Gibbs for driving the bus, Chaplain Owen for taking some great photographs, Mr Duffy for recording the half way stage and Mrs Canning for providing the water and a bucket of recovery jellies.

Friday 17th of May is the 4th time St. Columba’s have run this event. We increased the field to include 4th as well as 5th and 6th class entrants. In total, we had thirty two entrants from nine local schools. The positive energy and excitement was palpable as were some understandable nerves. It was great to see young like minded people playing competitively, sharing a day of fun, camaraderie and competition while making new connections.

The Lionel Munn trophy goes to the combined better ball team of two. This year was again very close with two teams on a combined nine hole gross score of 40 (4 over par). Holy Cross School Dundrum’s team of Taegun Lee and James Cummins won on a final six hole count back from Whitechurch National School’s Alex O’Herlihy and Joshua Cron. Taegun Lee had the day’s best individual gross score of 41 (5 over par).

Scoil Naomi Pádraig Ballyroan’s Ella Byrne won the individual girl’s prize with a 62 gross score and Whitechurch National School’s Alex O’Herlihy’s 42 gross score secured him the individual boy’s prize.

Very well done to all participating schools and players; their parents, accompanying teachers and the well maintained and conditioned St. Columba’s golf course. Thank you also to Kilmashogue Golf Club for facilitating this competition and the use of their clubhouse facilities.

The day would not have been possible without the administrative input of Lorna Wynne, Ian O’Herlihy and our resident PGA professional Josh Adams. The accompanying teachers and parents certainly deserve a mention as they are the ones that take on the tasks of driving, waiting around and supporting their young charges and children. Also thank you to the Warden for presenting the prizes.

Congratulations to the winners of this year’s Form Prizes, based on overall academic performance, including examinations:

  • FIRST FORM: Charlie Dunleavy, Max Heidenfeld, Oyindamola Oni, Marianna O’Shaughnessy.
  • SECOND FORM: Jan-Christian Dijkstra, Grace Lee, Alannah Starbuck, Cora Wheatley, Merida Zhang,
  • THIRD FORM: Lexi Hunter, Ethan Robertson, Jason Wong.
  • FOURTH FORM: Grace Koch, Leire Mayo, Oscar Ryan, Giulia Trolese, Safia Walker.
  • FIFTH FORM: Nooria Nakschbandi, Manuela Nassief, Melina Paulsen, Alison Wang, Lucas Weber.
  • SIXTH FORM: Hannah Bergmann, Elizabeth Hart, Yilong She, Lorne Walsh, Cheuk Yin Wong, Cocu Xu.

I have just finished reading The Anxious Generation by Jonathan Haidt. If you haven’t read it, get a copy. It is an important book.

The overall thrust of the book is that the current mental health crisis among young people has been caused by the advent of the smart phone…children are now experiencing a phone-based childhood instead of a play-based childhood and the effects of that are profound: increased anxiety due to unrealistic comparisons on social media; the pursuit of likes and followers and the misery caused when you cannot keep up with the popular crowd; an increased number of contacts but far fewer real friendships; a lack of face to face conversation and real life contact in the physical world.

Haidt has an interesting way of viewing what has happened. A few decades ago parents become very fearful that their children were in danger in the community from paedophiles or from being abducted, or getting physically hurt when they were unsupervised, so they became nervous of allowing their children to do things by themselves and thus learn resilience and independence. In contrast to that over-emphasis on safety in the physical world, parents have given their kids the most extraordinary access to the virtual world through their smart phones, a mad and dangerous world in which they are almost entirely unsupervised. In truth, says Haidt, the physical world is no more dangerous than it used to be and may actually be safer, because all the paedophiles and weirdos are online, which is where their children now spend all their time. The online world is a minefield of negative influences, run by companies whose algorithms are designed to cause addiction to their apps. The potential dangers there are far greater than merely climbing a tree or going to the shops unsupervised.

Apparently girls are more affected by social media than boys, because girls are more likely to be comparing themselves to others and feeling inadequate about their looks, their skin, their clothes, their body shape. All that breeds anxiety and a feeling of inadequacy. The same can be the case with boys but they are more likely to be watching porn, getting unrealistic ideas about relationships, seeing girls being abused and objectified and learning that it is ok to talk about them in a demeaning manner. Real relationships with girls, requiring respect and conversation, are awkward, and there is the danger of rejection, but no matter if you can get your fix online. No danger of rejection there. Is that what we want for our boys?

I don’t think Haidt is exaggerating the effects that smart phones and social media have had. However, he has a simple way that he thinks parents and schools can turn back the tide: far less access to phones and far more access to and encouragement of what he calls ‘free play.’ Playing outside builds character. Children learn how to deal with bumps and bruises and, when they are left on their own, they also learn how to resolve conflicts, without adult interference. That is an important rite of passage. Play time in school used to be a mad welter of playground football and tag…now it can be totally silent with every child glued to their phone. Does anyone think that is progress?

In some ways I actually think that this is quite a good advertisement for boarding schools. Here at St. Columba’s we can’t ban phones because we are largely a boarding school and that would not be fair or realistic. In any case, learning to use phones responsibly is something that children need to do. But access to phones here is limited, while all pupils play some sport 6 days a week after school, building face to face relationships in the team sports which we think have so much to teach them. Many children in other schools go home at 3.30 p.m. and spend the rest of the day on their screens. Our children here are kept very busy and I doubt that there is a single parent who does not appreciate that. Prepare for a renewed interest in boarding schools!

Last week we had the new intake for September in for testing. What a great crowd! I wrote to all their parents earlier this week to urge them to hold off on smart phones for their children, if it is not too late, or to find a way of limiting or monitoring the apps on the phones, if they already have them. What is most important when children come here is that they learn to interact face to face, to deal with each other in the physical world and not to be drawn into the dog eat dog world of social media before they can cope with it. I am not sure that any of us can cope with it, actually, but the longer it can be delayed the better for the children.

School and parents are in this together and we need to collaborate to beat back the incoming tide. Awareness of these dangers is growing and perhaps the tide is already turning. If we can set a different value to the use of social media and phones here in our own school community, I think we will find that we will be on the right side of history.

Harry Williams, Form V, writes on his recent experience taking part in the European Youth Parliament.

From April 3rd to the 8th I was invited to a European Youth Parliament National Session which took place between Cork and Dublin, concluding with a general assembly in the Dáil Éireann. I was in Dunmore East at the time meaning my dad had the pleasure of driving me about two hours to Cork for the registration and first day. After saying goodbye I made my way to the table at the back of Cork College FET, filled with faces that I’d soon come to know and, after a few technical difficulties, I was up and running with my very own lanyard and committee that I would soon be a part of. Since I was there by myself and didn’t really see anybody I could recognize from the regional session I had done a few months prior, I was slightly by myself. There were kids milling about the large conference room, laughing and chatting amongst themselves. They all seemed quite content in their little circles of comfort, so I decided to put on my big boy boots and walked towards the nearest group of people and introduced myself.

I was terrified as I walked up, since you always expect a bit of shunning or some sort when meeting new children your age but, to no one’s surprise, everybody was extremely welcoming and considerate. Turns out there were a couple faces I could recognise from the Dublin session and after reintroducing ourselves (and, at the time, me remembering none of their names) we got to reminiscing on the whimsical things we took part in at the regionals. Remembering this helped a lot with reconnecting, and so did the absolutely amazing lunch of a cold service station sandwich they gave us. I would become very familiar with these in the coming days of the event.

After everybody registered they began with the introductions of the organisers of the event and ”energisers”. For those in the dark an “energiser” is just about the most mortifying thing you can think of doing as a cool and mysterious teenager, group singing and dancing. Typically an organiser will get into the middle of a large circle of adolescents and start singing a “sing after me song” in which the rest of the room copies what the organiser is doing/saying. After a couple of excruciating and also weirdly fun minutes, we assembled into our committees with our chairpersons making their own introductions. The chairperson is similar to that of the mom/dad of the group who is a couple years older and supervises the committee so we actually get stuff done. Then we moved upstairs and got to getting to know each other by playing name games, dancing, and debating morality and guilt.

Following this, we had some tea and biscuit (we were only allowed one) and went back to playing catch with the speaking ball or guessing which instrument the person next to us is likely to play. Once the group had decided I was a tin whistler, we had dinner (a slice of vaguely stale lasagna) and transferred over to our hostel for the next four days. After unpacking and meeting the roommates, I went down and began the nightly ritual of playing a game of cards with way too many people, putting a couple cards into my pockets, winning, and then heading to bed just as I was going to lose. The next day we continued with the team building, this time with competitions between committees.

After dominating every other group, we started thinking about ideas for our resolution. The committee I was on was called TRAN, or the Committee for Transport and Tourism. Our proposing question was “In light of the 2050 EU carbon target, how should the EU further improve the sustainability of domestic and international transportation?” As riveting as it may sound, for me it was actually my first choice. So I was happy to waffle on as much as possible about high-speed rails and how planes and rich people are bad. The following two days were spent on what was called “committee work”. In normal terms, a bunch of kids get together and try their best to come up with a solution to a major EU wide problem. It actually went quite smoothly, bar a few hiccups about monopolies and world domination.

Once we had finished with all of this committee work we were given a day’s break to go to Fotá, Ireland’s premier wildlife picture taking area. However the organizers of the event seemed to have forgotten that it was April in Ireland so Fotá, Ireland’s premier wildlife picture taking area, was closed due to storms. As such the organizers brought us to the next best thing, Kung-Fu Panda 4. After a mid-tier Kung-Fu Panda movie, we made the transfer to Dublin and had some delicious lunch (cold service station sandwiches). We unpacked our bags in a newer and nicer hostel and headed downstairs for more music and card games. That night every committee’s resolution was released for all of the other committees to critique and tear apart. This led to a few dorm wars but thankfully only a few lives were lost.

The next morning was a great healthy start with one apple for breakfast and the hope that I could make it the next 4 hours without eating anything. We made the ten minute bus ride to the Dáil Éireann and got our very own passes and metal detector tests before heading in. The chamber was exactly like on TV, but in real life. The whole situation didn’t quite feel serious until the speaker of the Dáil came and gave us a talk. At which point I began to understand that I was, in fact, sitting in the seat of major politicians in Ireland. After the Lord Mayor of Dublin spoke next, we began the General Assembly. This was a process in which one committee would give an opening speech, then there would be two position speeches (speeches given by opposing or agreeing committees), followed by three rounds of open debate.

These rounds of open debate would start by the jury calling on around six points of interest from opposing committees and then after which the proposing committee would respond as best they could. Once these debates were finished, there was a closing speech and then all of the committees would vote on the motion and whether it should pass. Once the votes were tallied, and the resolution passed or failed, the whole process was restarted. On the first day, there were three committees before lunch, two after, and then a coffee break. After the coffee break (still one biscuit) we began the final two. We finished around four o’ clock after which we went back to the hostel to enjoy more live music and dancing and cards. The final day we had three committees before lunch and then the final committee proposing after lunch. TRAN (my committee) was third on the second day, so I had plenty of time to tear out my hair over every single word on our resolution in an attempt to predict what people would criticize. Of course, I wasn’t even close to any of them but at least I felt like I was doing something. When our committee was proposing the time went by a little too quickly in the run up to my turn. I was responding to the second round of open debate which was stressful enough, but the whole operation being televised and having every team member throwing sticky notes with valuable information on them at me didn’t help. But I managed to get through it without making a complete fool of myself which I was quite happy with. On top of that I managed to tear down another committees’ resolution as they had forgotten to include a way to solve one major issue that they had mentioned in their very own resolution. So if that’s not indicative of a great time I don’t know what is.

Our ending ceremony was emotional as the organizers had spent the last 9 months doing what their names suggest, so their attachment was definitely reasonable and if I was in their position I probably would’ve shed a few tears as well. After the closing, we got a goodie bag from the government and after a few photos, exchanging numbers, and collecting bags, I said my goodbyes and headed back to school. The whole ordeal left me quite exhausted but also very satisfied. There is something very special about the EYP program. It teaches you how to become fast friends, as well as slight enemies. The competition was good-spirited and at the end of the day we were all just happy to have done it. I would highly highly recommend the whole thing to anyone who is even moderately interested in not politics, but making a small change.

An interesting story I heard about during the session was that one of the resolutions that got turned down in a previous national session was then redone in an international session. This was passed in the international session, which led to a committee in the actual European Parliament proposing a real proposition that was noticeably similar to the international sessions, and it then getting passed. So if you ever feel as though nothing you do actually impacts those around you, maybe reconsider. It could be that by doing one of the silly little regional sessions you’ll find that tearing apart other people’s ideas while giving no solution in the meanwhile is actually very very fun. 

We are delighted to host an Open Evening for prospective pupils and their parents will take place on the evening of Thursday 16th May, from 6.30pm to 8.30pm.

This will be an opportunity for pupils seeking entry in 2025, 2026 or 2027 at any age to see around the College with their parents. There will be a reception, with teachers available for questions, followed by introductory talks, and then short tours given by Junior pupils.

If you would like to come to the Open Evening, please contact us via email – admissions@stcolumbas.ie – or phone 01-4906791.

 

This year’s SCC Book Week is running from Wednesday 17 to Tuesday 24 April.

A variety of activities and competitions will take place in the library including ‘Crack the Code’, ‘Guess Who’s Coming to Supper’ and ‘Book Worms’. 

Among the other events planned are an Author Visit on Wednesday from Science Fiction and Fantasy novelist Conor Kostick, ‘First Year Speed Dating with Books’ on Thursday, a Book Tasting in the BSR on Friday and ‘Drop Everything and Read’ on Saturday morning.

Congratulations to all the pupils who participated in the Senior Art Prize for 2024. The level of dedication and craftsmanship displayed in each submission is a testament to the commitment of the pupils. Throughout the academic year, amidst the mountains of responsibilities and extracurricular activities, the pupils worked away on their submissions in the art room.

We are very thankful to multidisciplinary Irish artist Serena Kitt, who was invited to judge the entries, which were based on the themes ‘Territory’ and ‘Encounter’.

The Earl of Meath Art Prize, Senior, was won by Ivan Zhu, Form V (his piece above). Serena commented that the work was extremely skilled and innovative for showing the other side of the war through the lens of the camera and for all of the hidden messages around the composition.

The Craft Prize, Senior, was awarded to Felicitas Ratibor. Serena added that her work (above) was thought provoking and visually arresting as it leaves you wanting to see more.

The Photography Prize, Senior, was awarded to Ella Taylor, Form VI. Serena thought this work (below)by Ella was beautiful and a really interesting and innovative take on the theme of territory.

Commendations for the Art Prize were awarded to Ella Taylor, Form VI, for her conceptual, sentimental painting. And to Sofia Gill-Torrejon, Form V, for her painting of the rabbit and fox and for its meaning about two animals in the animal kingdom each vying for territory. A distinction for the Art Prize was awarded to Georgia Goodbody, Form VI, for the scale and sheer skill in her work. Serena added that it was a joyous piece to look at. A distinction was also awarded to Calvin She, Form VI, for his sensitive, gentle rendering of a young girl.

Commendations for the Craft Prize were awarded to Constance Chambré, Form V, for her provoking ideas that she communicated through clay modelling, and to Arthur Jellett, Form VI, for the ship that Serena commented was “beautifully made” and reflected a lot of detailed work and skill and very interesting accompanying drawings. Distinctions in this category were awarded to Maximilia Holstein, Form VI, for her lively batik.

A Commendation for the Photography Prize was awarded to Jacob Owen, Form V. Serena was so impressed with the compositions and the dedication and effort he went to to shoot his photographs.

Generally, Serena expressed how impressed she was with the standard and variety of the submissions, which also included; pottery pieces by Aeladh Bradley-Brady, Amaya Street, Elisa Bulla, Ella Taylor, lino prints by Hedley Butler and batik by Joy Orogun. Photographs by Calvin She and Jason Zhang and drawings and paintings by Clodagh Walsh, Liberty Jacquier-Kende, Finn Tabb, Elisa Bulla.

We commend all the pupils for their outstanding achievements. Please enjoy viewing the work in the gallery below.