Castleknock College

Castleknock College

Castleknock College ("Coláiste Caisleán Cnucha" in Irish) is a private (fee-paying) secondary school for boys situated in the residential suburb of Castleknock, 8 km west of the city centre in Dublin, Ireland.


The history of Castleknock College dates back over 170 years. In 1830, a year after the passing of Catholic Emancipation, priests from the Vincentian Community (Congregation of the Mission, C.M.) in Maynooth College obtained permission to open a day school under the patronage of the Archbishop of Dublin. On the 28th of August 1833 a day school at 24 Usher's Quay Dublin was opened.

So successful was the school that on the 28th of August 1835, St. Vincent's Ecclesiastical Seminary was opened in Castleknock, catering for just 47 boys. The first student to arrive in 1835 was John Lynch of Clones, Co. Monaghan. He would later enter the Vincentian order and become Archbishop of Toronto. A contemporary of John Lynch was Patrick Moran who would also be ordained as a Vincentian priest and become Bishop of Cape Town before being appointed as the first Catholic Bishop of Dunedin in New Zealand in 1869. Castleknock College's position at the forefront of Irish Catholic education was affirmed on 22nd April 1900, when Queen Victoria and her royal party visited the College.


Castleknock College was founded in 1835 by the Vincentian Community. The Vincentians remain the College Trustees. The Mission Statement of the College is reflected in the ethos of the College.

The College Motto is 'Nos Autem In Nomine Domimi' which translates from Latin as 'We, however, in the name of the Lord'. This comes from Psalms xx 7. The full Psalm is "Hi in curribus et hi en equis; nos autem in nomine Domini Dei nostri invocabimus" ('Some trust in chariots or horses; we, however, [trust] in the Name of the Lord.') The Catholic faith is the bedrock upon which the College was founded and it continues to underpin the spiritual, academic and co-curricular life of Castleknock.

The aim of Castleknock College is to enable each of its pupils to reach full development in a harmonious growth of the whole person. It promotes this aim of integral formation by many varied activities, religious, academic, social, cultural and sporting, which are conducted by means of personal contacts and shared commitments, and experienced by the pupils in the context of life within the College.

The College ethos is distinctly Vincentian in character and is best summed up in the Castleknock Mission Statement, 'To have a College which is concerned with the development of theWhole person in a Christian atmosphereWhich encourages involvement in a balance ofReligious, Intellectual, Cultural and Sporting ActivitiesAnd which promotes the growth of Self-worth and Respect for OthersIn the spirit of St Vincent de Paul.'

Each year on Union Day the College Medal (Vincentian Medal) is awarded to the Sixth Year student who has best embodied and exemplified the ethos and charism of the College. The Governing Body of Castleknock College is committed to an Admission Policy which reflects the spirit and meaning of the Education Act 1998, the Education (Welfare) Act 2000 and the Equal Status Act 2000.

Academic Life


Castleknock College has long been established as one of the top rugby schools in Leinster. The College has won the Leinster Schools Senior Cup on eight occasions since first entering (and winning) the competition in 1913. Castleknock teams have been runners-up in the competition on fifteen occasions, contesting more finals than any other school except Blackrock. The Leinster Schools Junior Cup has also been won on eight occasions in Castleknock's history, the last time in 1965.

In 2006 three members of the Castleknock College SCT were selected for the Ireland team for the Under-19 World Cup in Dubai. Brian Collins played in every match at out-half while Tom Walsh and Ruaidhri Murphy featured prominently throughout the tournament. In Ireland's second round 17-16 victory over Samoa, all of the Irish points were scored by Castleknock players. The Irish team eventually finished a very creditable fifth in the tournament, beating England in the group stages. Ruaidhri Murphy was a member of the Ireland Under-21 team that won the Grand Slam in February 2007.

Castleknock College has also tasted success in schools athletics with College athlete Adrian Toolan winning the All-Ireland Senior 400M title in 2006. Adrian was a member of the victorious relay team that won the All-Ireland Schools Senior 4x100M title in 2006. Final Year student John Coghlan was recently crowned All-Ireland Schools Senior Cross Country Champion 2007, thus continuing the winning trend in both Track & Field and Cross Country. Castleknock College competes in a variety of other sports including soccer, tennis, golf and cricket. Gaelic Football is played as a recreational game during the summer term.

t. Vincent de Paul Society

Castleknock College was established by the Congregation of the Mission (Vincentians), the religious order founded by St. Vincent de Paul. Consequently, the ethos and traditions of the Vincentian order characterise the spirit of the College. The most popular student society within the College is the St. Vincent de Paul Society. There are currently two SVP conferences in Castleknock College; the Fourth Year conference and the St. John Gabriel Perboyre conference for Fifth Year students.

Following the example of St. Vincent, members are involved in helping the impoverished of our society through a variety of means such as visiting local centres for people with special needs. In the academic year 2007/2008 up to 64 Transition Year student members of the SVP carry out voluntary work in such centres each week. The SVP has also hosted Halloween and Christmas parties for students and residents of local schools and centres for those with an intellectual disability.

The Castleknock College Conference recently twinned with the St. Andrew's (Mpika) and Sacred Heart (Kabwe) SVP Conferences in Zambia. Fundraising activities are held throughout the academic year to support the society's activities which include a financial commitment to support our sister SVP Conferences in Zambia. The annual SVP Christmas Tree Sale has been extremely well supported since its inception in 2006 and other fundraising initiatives have included SVP Wristband Sale, SVP Raffles and sponsored events. SVP members meet on a weekly basis and the College conferences of the 'SVP' are fully affiliated to the Dublin Office of the SVP Society.

The College SVP Society will send six volunteers (four students and two staff) to Mekelle, Ethiopia in August 2008 for two and a half weeks to work with the Vincentian Lay Missionaries (VLM) in their relief project there. It is envisaged that this initiative will become an annual event and will grow in numbers over the coming years to include pastmen of the College as well as current students.


Castleknock College has a proud and distinguished record in the highly competitive sphere of schools debating. In March 2008 the College team of Killian Breen and Adam Noonan (both of Fourth Year) won the Leinster Schools Senior Debating Championships thereby retaining the title won in 2007 by Alan Henry and Liam O'Connell. The College has debating societies at Senior, Intermediate and Junior levels with the annual Gold Medal Debate being the highlight of the debating calendar.Staff members Mr. Richard Wafer and Mr. James McElroy coach the Irish Debating Team with Mr. Wafer guiding the Ireland team to World Championship success in 2002.

Castleknock Chronicle

The Castleknock Chronicle has been published by the College every year since it was first produced in 1888. The Chronicle acts as a record of the main events in the College and is an invaluable historical source for the Vincentian community, staff, students and past-men of Castleknock. Upon publication the Chronicle is distributed to each student and member of staff and is also available for purchase from the Union Office.


The Castleknock College grounds are located in the Dublin suburb of Castleknock, beside the Phoenix Park. The College is easily accessible via the [ ring road] around Dublin as well as Dublin Bus routes 37 and 38 and the local railway station.

The College itself is nestled between two historical hills, one of which (Windmill Hill) is reputed to be the burial mound of Cumhal, father of Fionn mac Cumhail, a legendary Irish warrior. According to legend, Cumhal was interred here following his death at the Battle of Cnucha. An archaeological dig of this hill carried out in June 2007 revealed the remains of four human skeletons probably dating from the Early Christian period. The National Museum is to consider whether a more extensive dig is worthwhile.

The second hill is topped with the remains of a Norman castle dating from the early thirteenth century. It is this castle which gave its name to the barony of Castleknock ('Caislean Cnocha') and it was the power base of the Anglo-Norman Tyrell family until its eventual occupation and destruction by Eoghan Roe O'Neill and his confederacy forces in 1648. The castle remains include less than half of the original keep with portions of the walls of the bailey, enclosing a space of roughly 33 m x 20 m (100 ft x 60 ft). The bailey is still surrounded on the north and west by the original fosses and earthen ramparts while the remains of the keep has been used as a cemetery by the Vincentian order since they purchased the site in 1834.

As well as the two historical hills the College grounds boast nine rugby pitches, a soccer pitch, running track, six tennis courts, cricket pavilion, landscaped gardens as well as lush fields with grazing cattle. This spaciousness of the College campus affords students tremendous leisure and sporting opportunities on their own doorstep.

New developments

In 2005, the administration of Castleknock College decided on a new development plan to renew the entire College. It is divided into three stages over a total of three years, with an expected cost in the region of €16 million. The Castleknock College redevelopment Plan was officially launched in April 2006 when Minister Brian Lenihan TD laid the foundation stone for the new 'Link Building'.

Phase One will connect the MacNamara and Cregan House buildings by way of a 'Link Building'. This three story building will become the central atrium of the College and will house three state-of-the-art science laboratories, new interactive classhalls, language labs, a centralised communication and administration 'hub' as well as disabled access to all floors. Phase One also involves extensive internal work in MacNamara which has seen the transformation of the 'Sixth Year Corridor' and Holy Angels and Pius dormitories into class halls, offices and ICT rooms. The College Chapel was closed for repairs and renovation during this phase of the building programme. Phase One was completed in June 2007.

Phase Two began in May 2007 and sees the expansion of Cregan House to allow for the development of arts, library and language facilities. It will also provide more class hall space, a concourse on each floor to provide easier passage between classes, a meeting area and so on. Phase Two also involves extensive work in MacNamara House including the renovation of the former Junior dormitory, Study Hall and St. Mary's dormitory to provide class halls, new College Library and art room respectively.

Phase Three will take place roughly twelve months after Phase Two and will focus on new state-of-the-art sports facilities including a new College Gym, weights room and changing facilities.

Alumni and the Castleknock College Union

In 1896 the Castleknock College Union was founded by the past-men of the College as a means of maintaining the Vincentian ethos and cameraderie among the graduates of Castleknock College. Castleknock can claim to have the oldest such society in Ireland. The first President of the Castleknock Union was Lord Russell of Killowen, Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales (the first Catholic to hold that office since the reformation). The main events held each year by the Union are the Annual Dinner, the Business Lunch, the golf outings, the Past-men's Retreat on Good Friday and Union Day.

Union Day is the prize-giving and sports day in the College and is seen as a link between those attending the College and its past-men. The first official Sports Day was held in the College on April 4th 1872. It is always held on the second last Sunday before public examinations commence and is celebrated outdoors, weather permitting. The Graduation Mass is held in the College Chapel for the sixth year students on Union Day. The President of the Union addresses the College graduates at this Mass and welcomes them as new members of the Castleknock College Union.

A selection of notable alumni are listed below:

* Jack Arigho, rugby, won 16 caps for Ireland between 1928 and 1931.

* Richard Barrett, Property (Treasury Holdings).
* Edward Barry, Westminster parliamentarian.
* John Biggar, senior civil servant, Dept of Foreign Affairs.
* Maurice Biggar, civil servant, Dept of Foreign Affairs, Irish Times Debating Champion, (Individual 1979, Team 1980)
* Ambrose Birmingham, M.D., physician, academic, Fellow of the College of Surgeons, Examiner to Cambridge University.
* Richard Blake, Gaelic games administrator.
* P.J. Brady, Westminster parliamentarian.
* Vincent Browne, journalist & broadcaster.

* Charles F. Casey, HIgh Court judge, Attorney-General 1951.
* William F. Casey, writer and journalist, editor of the London Times 1948 - 1952.
* Tom Cleary, rugby. Munster scrum-half and captain from the mid 1940s to the early 1960s.
* John Conmee SJ, rector of Clongowes Wood College.
* Patrick Cooney, politician, government minister, Member of the European Parliament.
* Liam Cosgrave, politician. Former Taoiseach (Prime Minister of Ireland).
* Liam T. Cosgrave, former FG politician.

* J. H. Delargey, Professor of Folklore UCD.
* Eamon de Valera, member of the teaching staff 1910-11, politician.
* Paddy Donegan, politician, government minister.
* Most Rev. Nicholas Donnelly, titular bishop of Canea and auxiliary bishop of Dublin.
* Sir Joseph Downes, businessman.
* J. V. Downes, Professor of Architecture UCD.
* Most Rev. Dr. James Downey, Co-Adjutor Bishop of Ossory.
* Alan 'Dixie' Duggan, rugby, Ireland international.

* Major William Egan, D.S.O., O.B.E., army officer.

* Francis Fahy, member of the teaching staff 1906-21, politician, veteran of the Easter Rising and War of Independence, elected TD in the first Dail 1919, Ceann Comhairle of Dail Eireann 1932-50.
* Jody Fanagan, golfer, member of the victorious GB&I team in the 1995 Walker Cup.
* Colin Farrell, actor.
* Most Rev. Patrick Feehan, Archbishop of Chicago.
* Most Rev. Stephen Fennelly, Archbishop of Madras.
* Most Rev. Thomas Fennelly, Archbishop of Cashel.
* Mr Justice Fergus Flood, lawyer, judge.
* Thos Foley, skier, member of the Ireland Olympic Team at the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin.
* James Fox, musician, Fight Like Apes.

* Paul Gallagher, Attorney General of Ireland.
* Roger Garland, politician & environmental campaigner.
* Conor Gearty, barrister, author, Professor of Human Rights Law at the London School of Economics and Rausing Director of the Centre for the Study of Human Rights.
* Most Rev. Laurence Gilhooly, C.M., Bishop of Elphin.
* H.J. Gill, home rule MP for Westmeath 1880-84 and Limerick 1885-8.
* Desmond Governey, politician.
* Most Rev. Thomas Grimley, Vicar Apostolic of Cape Town.

* A.J. Hannigan, Squadron Leader in the RAF, killed in action over the Ruhr in 1941.
* E.A. Harney, Australian parliamentarian.
* Anthony J. Hederman, lawyer, judge, former Attorney General of Ireland.
* P.V. Hickey, publisher.
* Denis Hurley, rugby player, current member of the Munster rugby team.
* Bernard P. Hynes, Dental Surgeon, former Chairman of The South Eastern Health Board and late President of the Golfing Union of Ireland in 2006.

* Philip Joyce, President of the Law Society of Ireland (2007).

* Admiral Sir Henry Coey (H.C.) Kane, R.N., K.C.B., (1843-1917) noted captain of HMS "Calliope" during the 1889 Samoan hurricane tragedy, and later captain of the Royal Navy's flagship HMS Victory. Became a Knight Commander of the Bath in 1911.
* Edward Kelly, lawyer and politician, Nationalist MP for South Donegal 1910 - 1918.
* Most Rev. John Kilduff, C.M., Bishop of Ardagh.

* Cecil Lavery, lawyer, politician (former TD and Senator), Attorney-General of Ireland, Supreme Court Judge.
* Most Rev. John Leonard, Bishop of Cape Town.
* Timothy Linehan, former Fine Gael TD.
* Ned Lightfoot, an Irish Rugby three-quarter, in the 1930s.
* Anthony St. John Lambkin, Historian & Author and formerly of AIB, late Munster & Leinster Bank.
* Bryan Lynam, Property
* George Lynch, writer and war correspondent for the Daily Mail and New York Journal.
* Most Rev. James Lynch, C.M., Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin.
* Most Rev. John Lynch, C.M., first student of the College and later founder of Niagra University and Archbishop of Toronto.
* Peter V. Lyons, President of the GUI, Committee Member of the Royal and Ancient Golf Club, St. Andrews.

* Charles W. MacCarthy, M.D., physician, Fenian, recipient of the Croix Militaire, Chairman of the Irish National Executive of the Home Rule Movement in New South Wales.
* M. C. MacInerney, K.C., barrister, Divisional Magistrate for Dublin 1910 - 1917.
* Marc MacSharry, politician.
* Eugene McCabe, playwright and novelist.
* Most Rev. Neal McCabe, C.M., Bishop of Ardagh.
* Neil McCann, Business (Fyffes.)
* Aidan McCullen. Irish rugby international.
* Joseph McDermott, lawyer, President of the Incorporated Law Society.
* Air Chief Marshal Sir William McDonald, GCB, CBE, the first person to be awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross in February 1940.
* Barry McGovern, actor.
* Dr. Alfred McNally, African explorer.
* Patrick Masterson, former President of University College Dublin.
* Arthur Mathews, Cumann na nGaedheal TD, 1927-32.
* Arthur Mathews, writer. Credits include Father Ted and The Fast Show.
* Dr. Gerard Molloy, rector of the Catholic University.
* Most Rev. Patrick Moran, Bishop of Dunedin.
* James Morrin OBE, Deputy Commissioner, Hong Kong Police.
* P. F. Mullally, politician, prominent member of the Land League, Chairman of Tipperary County Council.
* J. X. Murphy, governor of the Bank of Ireland, independent TD, 1927-32.

* Brian O'Connell, journalist. London correspondent for RTÉ.
* James E. O'Doherty, lawyer and politician, Nationalist MP for North Donegal.
* Matthew O'Reilly, Fianna Fail TD, 1927-54.
* Canon John O'Rourke, historian.

* Pierce Purcell, academic, first Professor of Civil Engineering, University College Dublin.

* Richard Ryan, Bishop of Sale, Australia.
* Thomas Ryan, musician, Fight Like Apes.
* Patrick Ryan, Archbishop of Philadelphia.
* Lieut.-Col. James Henry Reynolds, V.C., [Surgeon Reynolds of Rorkes Drift] Victoria Cross.
* James Riordan, politician and lawyer, Crown Solicitor for Tyrone and Fermanagh.
* John Ronan, Property (Treasury Holdings).
* Charles Russell, Baron Russell of Killowen, Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales (1894 - 1900).
* Matthew Russell SJ, literary editor and first to publish W.B. Yeats and Oscar Wilde.
* Most Rev. Patrick J. Ryan, Archbishop of Philadelphia.
* Most Rev. Richard Ryan, C.M., Bishop of Sale, Australia.

* Edward Saxby, male model, socialite, appeared on ITV's "Ladette to Lady".
* Jonathan Saxby, male model, socialite, appeared on ITV's "Ladette to Lady".
* P. W. Shaw, Cumann na nGaedheal TD, 1923-33.
* Timothy Sheehy, politician, Cumann na nGaedheal TD for Cork West 1927-32.
* Sir Joseph Sheridan, former colonial chief justice of east Africa.
* Bill Shipsey, Senior Counsel. Human Rights activist.
* Jeremy Swan M.D., cardiologist and physician, co-inventor of the Swan-Ganz catheter.
* Marc Smyth, Guitarist.

* Devin Toner, rugby player. Current member of the Leinster rugby team.

* Most Rev. Michael Verdon, Bishop of Dunedin.

* Mark Ward, Gaelic footballer. Current member of the Meath gaelic football team.

ee also

* Lazarists - Congregation of the Mission (Vincentians)

* [ Official Castleknock College website]
* [ Official College Union website]
* [ Development plan on the official Castleknock College website]

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