Belvedere College

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Belvedere College SJ
Coláiste Belvedere
Per vias rectas
Latin for "By straight paths"
Great Denmark Street, Dublin 1
Republic of Ireland
Coordinates 53°21′21″N 6°15′43″W / 53.355732°N 6.261936°W / 53.355732; -6.261936Coordinates: 53°21′21″N 6°15′43″W / 53.355732°N 6.261936°W / 53.355732; -6.261936
Religious affiliation(s) Roman Catholic
Society of Jesus
Established 1832
Headmaster Michael G. Foley
Gender Male
Number of students 1005
Colour(s)          Black & White
Former pupils Old Belvederians
Belvedere College S.J. A view Looking into the yard. February 2015.

Belvedere College SJ is a private Jesuit secondary school for boys on Great Denmark Street, Dublin, Ireland. It is also known as St. Francis Xavier's College. The school has numerous notable alumni in the worlds of arts, politics, sport, science and business.


The Society of Jesus had been active in the area around Hardwicke Street since 1790. They founded St. Francis Xavier's College in Hardwicke Street in 1832, three years after Catholic Emancipation, making it the second oldest Catholic college in Ireland for lay students (after Belvedere's sister college -the Jesuit Clongowes Wood). In 1841, the order purchased Belvedere House around the corner in Great Denmark Street and the school took the name Belvedere College. George Augustus Rochfort (1738–1814), who became the Second Earl of Belvedere in 1774, built Belvedere House, whose interior decoration was carried out by Michael Stapleton, a leading stucco craftsman of his time.[1] Alumni and teachers at the College played a major role in the creation of modern Irish literature (James Joyce, Austin Clarke), the standardisation of the Irish language (de Bhaldraithe), as well as the Irish independence movement -both the 1916 Rising (Joseph Mary Plunkett, Eamon De Valera) and the Irish War of Independence (Eamon De Valera, Cathal Brugha, Kevin Barry). The College's notable alumni and former faculty include 1 Blessed, 1 Cardinal, 1 Archbishop, 1 Signatory of the Proclamation of the Irish Republic, 3 Irish Prime Ministers, 2 Presidents of Ireland, 1 Irish Finance Minister,1 Irish Minister for Enterprise, 1 Irish Supreme Court Justice, 1 Irish Olympic Medallist, 28 Irish international rugby players and several notable figures in the world of the arts, academia and business .

Jesuit ethos[edit]

Belvedere College is run by the Jesuit order. Most of the school's teaching staff are lay-persons, although a number of Jesuit priests and brothers take part in the school's administration and chaplaincy. The Jesuit ethos of social justice for all and educating "men for others" are keystones of the Belvedere College culture and education philosophy. In 2006 the school celebrated the 500th birthday of the patron saint of the college, St. Francis Xavier.

The Jesuit educational ethos consists chiefly of seven strands:[2]

  • Finding God in All Things
  • Caring for the individual
  • Showing love in deeds
  • Building Christian community
  • Engaging with the wider world
  • Encouraging excellence
  • Co-operating in Jesuit mission

Under these guiding principles, the College strives for the formation of well-rounded individuals, influenced by Ignatian reasoning and spirituality, and concern for humankind: the development of Men for Others.[3] In particular, students are encouraged to take part in daily prayer, retreats, meditations, celebration of the sacraments, pilgrimages and to be actively involved in charitable activities.

Charitable activities[edit]

The school has a wide range of charitable activities for its students. For example, some students travel with the annual Dublin Diocesan Pilgrimage to Lourdes, France, to assist the elderly and the disabled; others take part in an exchange programme with students of Saint Xavier's Collegiate School in Calcutta, India, where they assist in homes for orphans and street-children. Belvedere's St. Vincent de Paul Society is one of the largest of any secondary school in Ireland, organising activities such as old-folks events and flat decoration in inner city Dublin. Since 1981, certain students also undertake a charity walk from Dublin to Galway every summer in order to raise funds for Irish Guide Dogs For The Blind, St Francis Hospice and The Temple Street Children's Hospital (which is located near the school). In the past, the "block-pull", as it is known, has raised over €70,000 in a single event.

An annual charitable fundraising event held by the College is the "Belvedere Sleep-Out", which takes place from December 22 to 24th each year. Students "go homeless" on Dublin's O'Connell Street for 3 days and 2 nights. The Sleep-Out is run primarily by students from the College, with the assistance of a number of teachers, and past pupils, to raise funds for Focus Ireland, The Home Again Society, and Father Peter McVerry's Society for homeless boys. The students fast for 24 hours during the Sleep-Out. The culmination is Christmas Eve midnight mass in the college chapel. In 2014, the event managed to raise over 178,000 over the Christmas period for the charities.[citation needed]

Belvedere College has an active alumni association - the Belvedere College Past Pupils' Union, the aim of which is to encourage social interchange among Belvederians and to promote the aims of the Society to which the College belongs. The Union has a number of sub-committees including the Belvedere Youth Club, which provides social, recreational and educational facilities for youth in the Dublin city centre area, and Belvedere Social Services, which provides housing for young vulnerable homeless boys who would otherwise be at grave risk, and facilitates them with opportunities for training and employment. In 2010-11, Belvedere College Union established Belvedere alumni networks in the US and the UK to support past pupils abroad and to assist with fundraising projects for the college including the college's social integrattion scheme (S.I.S.).


Facilities include a swimming pool, gymnasium, science and technology block, modern restaurant, refectory, music suite, learning resource centre, museum, chapel, oratory, theatre, pitch, tennis courts and rugby, cricket and soccer pitches.

The college has many interactive white boards, 3 computer labs, cabled and wireless networking to every classroom and many other IT features including dedicated networks for the library, Special Education, Careers, Music and Art.


Belvedere has a strong rugby union football tradition, being one of the traditional "Big Three", along with Blackrock College and Terenure College. In 2005, for the first time in the school's history, they won both the Leinster Junior Cup and Leinster Senior Cup. Only Blackrock College (67) have won the Leinster Senior Cup more times than Belvedere (10). They last won the Leinster Senior Cup, after beating St. Mary's College by one point in the 2008 final.[4] Cricket has also been a strong sport within the school. The Junior Cup has been won 26 times despite the College losing the Junior Cup final for four consecutive years, 2004-2007. The Senior Cup has been won 34 times.

The school's "Lifesaving Club" [clarification needed] is also successful, with a number of All-Ireland and British Titles to their credit and students have successfully represented Ireland at International Lifesaving Competitions.[clarification needed]

In basketball, the under-19 team won the All-Ireland Championships in 2002 and the under-16 winning the Leinster final also in 2002.[citation needed]

Belvedere is the current[when?][specify] holder of the All-Ireland schools senior track and field trophy and have won the title for each of the past seven years. They are also the holders of numerous other titles at Leinster and West Leinster levels. Field sports are the traditional strength of the school.[citation needed]

Belvedere won the Dublin Metropolitan Schools Soccer Cup in 1996. The final saw them defeat Tallaght CS and go on to win the Leinster title the same year. The College triumphed in the 2008 Millennium School's Cup defeating Mount Temple and again won the 2010 Millennium School's Cup beating St.Michaels on penalties after drawing 3-3 in normal time.[citation needed]

Other activities[edit]

The school has debating societies in the English, Irish, German and French languages, with German debating experiencing something of a revival in recent months[when?][specify]. Belvedere has won the All-Ireland schools debating competition on a number of occasions (in 2005), the Denny Leinster School's Senior Debating Championship (in 2010), the L&H society Leinster Junior debating competition and also the Alliance Française debating championship and Leinster Irish debating final.

Belvedere was successful in the last ever series of Blackboard Jungle, a popular television programme on RTÉ. The school's Concert Choir has been in existence for many years. The Choir hosts the Annual Christmas Carol Service in December, and the Annual Musical Evening, which usually takes place in May. The Choir have undertaken recordings in RTÉ, and have been successful at both the Feis Ceoil and the Wesley Feis. The College orchestra has won events at both the Wesley Feis and the Feis Ceoil.


Drama productions form an integral part of Belvedere's year. Each academic year, there are four performances: A Junior Musical, a Senior Musical, a Drama Society production, and a first year play. This school has produced, amongst others, Les Misérables (the school edition), in 2004 and the stage adaptation of Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials, in 2007. Other productions of note include Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber Of Fleet Street, Bugsy Malone, David Copperfield, Aladdin, Jesus Christ Superstar, A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum, The Wind In The Willows, Prince Caspian and The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, Treasure Island, Lord of the Rings and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat.


The promotion of Science has become a priority for Belvedere's Board of Management. Over € 7 million has been invested in the Dargan-Maloney Science and technology block. Dr Garret FitzGerald an Old Belvederian and Senior Faculty Member of the University of Pennsylvania (one of the Ivy League Universities & The First Medical School in The U.S.) has instituted an annual five-week scholarship to two students who excel in Transition Year science.

Culture of Belvedere[edit]

New Entrance to College on Great Denmark Street, Dublin

The school motto is Per Vias Rectas translating as "By Straight Paths" and the College aspires to produce "Men for Others". Students often write "AMDG" the motto of the Society of Jesuits, i.e.: Ad maiorem Dei gloriam, on the top left of pages of their copybooks. This translates as "For the greater glory of God". Until recently the students would write "LDSetBVM" or "Laus Deo Semper et Beatae Virgini Mariae" ("Love God forever and the Blessed Virgin Mary") on the bottom right of the same page, but this practice has largely died out.

The unofficial school anthem, often heard at rugby matches, is "Only In God", based on Psalm 62 in the Bible. The song was first sung at rugby matches during the 1995 and 1996 Senior Cup Campaigns. The official, less popular anthem, "Belvedere, Oh Belvedere", was composed by a past pupil and recorded by the school choir in 1997. The school's yearbook is The Belvederian. The term "Belvederian" is also sometimes used to refer to attending students and "Old Belvederian" (OB) for alumni. Old Belvederians normally refer to their graduation by using OB followed by the final year in the college as, for example, "OB 1984".

Belvedere College is the backdrop for much of James Joyce's novel A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. It is a semi-autobiographical piece of work, and the teacher, Mr Tate, was based on Joyce's own English teacher, George Dempsey. In the book Joyce mentions his involvement in the College Opera which continues today. The College's Dramatic Society performs four times during the academic year. A museum with an archive were opened in 2002, dedicated to the history of Belvedere and its alumni.

The students are assigned to one of six different lines or houses, mainly named after famous Jesuits: Loyola, Xavier, Aylmer, Kenny, Finlay and Dempsey. Years are named after progression in the Jesuit Ratio Studiorum: Elements, Rudiments, Grammar, Syntax, Poetry, Rhetoric. Each form (with the exception of the forms in Rhetoric) has a captain and vice-captain.

Notable past pupils[edit]

The Arts[edit]

Irish history, politics and law[edit]

Irish language[edit]




Business & professional[edit]



See also[edit]


External links[edit]