Clongowes Wood College

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Clongowes Wood College S.J.
Main Building, Clongowes Wood College - Kildare, Ireland.JPG
Main Building, Clongowes Wood College
Aeterna Non Caduca
(Eternal not falling)
Clane, County Kildare, Ireland
Coordinates 53°18′39.3″N 6°41′0.4″W / 53.310917°N 6.683444°W / 53.310917; -6.683444Coordinates: 53°18′39.3″N 6°41′0.4″W / 53.310917°N 6.683444°W / 53.310917; -6.683444
School type Voluntary secondary school
Boarding school Private
Religious affiliation(s) Roman Catholic
Society of Jesus
Established 1814
Founder Fr. Peter Kenney SJ
Chairperson Mr. John Tierney
Rector Fr Michael Sheil SJ
Headmaster Fr Leonard Moloney SJ
Gender Boys
Age 12-13 to 17-18
Enrollment 449 (2010[dated info])
Colour(s) Purple and white
Publication The Clongownian
School fees €16,800 per annum (2011/2012) [1]

Clongowes Wood College is a voluntary secondary boarding school for boys, located near Clane in County Kildare, Ireland. Founded by the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) in 1814,[2] it is one of Ireland's oldest Catholic schools, and featured prominently in James Joyce's semi-autobiographical novel A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. One of five Jesuit schools in Ireland, it had 450 students in 2011/2012 when the fees were €16800 per annum.[citation needed]

The school's current headmaster is Fr Leonard Maloney.[3] Fr Michael Sheil SJ retired as rector in 2006 and Fr Bruce Bradley[4] (headmaster 1992-2000) was his successor. In September 2011 Fr.Michael Sheil S.J. returned as Rector.


The school is a secondary boarding school for boys from Ireland and other parts of the world.[5] The school is divided into three groups, known as "lines". The Third Line is for First and Second years; the Lower Line for Third and Fourth years; and the Higher Line for Fifth and Sixth years. Each year is known by a name: Elements (First year), Rudiments (Second year), Grammar (Third year), Syntax (Fourth year), Poetry (Fifth year), and Rhetoric (Sixth year).[6]


The medieval castle was originally built in the 13th century by Stuart Cullen, an early Anglo-Norman warrior and landowner in North Kildare.[7]He had been given extensive lands in the area of Kill, Celbridge and Mainham by his brother, Rurai Blaney, who had come to Ireland with Strongbow, the Earl of Pembroke.

It is the residence of the religious community and was improved by a "chocolate box" type restoration in the 18th century. It was rebuilt in 1718 by Stephen Fitzwilliam Browne and extended in 1788 by Thomas Wogan Browne.[citation needed] It is situated beside a ditch and wall - known as ramparts - constructed for the defence of the Pale in the 14th century. The building was completely refurbished in 2004 and the reception was moved back there from the "1999 building".

The castle is connected to the modern buildings by an elevated corridor hung with portraits, the Serpentine Gallery referred to by James Joyce.[8] This gallery was completely demolished and rebuilt in 2004 as part of a redevelopment programme for the school buildings.

The castle is connected to the modern buildings by an elevated corridor hung with portraits
Staff Reading/Common Room
School Crest in Staff Dining Room
Staff Dining Room

In 1929 another wing was built at a cost of £135,000, presenting the rear façade of the school. It houses the main classrooms and the Rudiments, Grammar, Syntax, and Humanities dormitories.

An expansion and modernisation was completed in 2000; the €4.8m project added another residential wing that included a 500-seat dining hall, kitchen, entrance hall, offices, plant room, and study/bedrooms for sixth year ("Rhetoric") students.[9]

The Boys' Chapel has an elaborate reredos, a large pipe-organ in the gallery, and a sequence of Stations of the Cross painted by Sean Keating. School tradition has it that the portrait of Pontius Pilate in the twelfth station was based on the school rector, who had refused to pay the artist his asking price.

The Boys' Chapel
Altar of Chapel


The school traces its history back to a 799-acre (3.23 km2) estate owned by the Wogan family in 1418 under the reign of Henry IV. The name "Clongowes" comes from the Irish for "meadow" (cluain) and for "blacksmith" (gobha). The estate was originally known as "Clongowes de Silva" (de Silva meaning "wood" in Latin).[10] The estate later passed to the Eustace family and became part of the fortified border of the Pale in 1494. The Eustaces lost their estates during the Restoration.[11] The estate was sold by the Wogan-Brownes to the Jesuits in March 1814 for £16,000.

Plaque outside reception, commemorating its 1st pupil James McLornan on 18th May 1814

The school accepted its first pupil, James McLornan, on 18 May 1814.[12]

In 1886 the Jesuit-run St Stanislaus College in Tullabeg, County Offaly, was amalgamated with Clongowes Wood College.[13]

As of 2008, there are 13 Jesuits living at the historic school.[14]

Historical accounts[edit]

One early history of the school is The Clongowes Record 1814-1932 by Fr. Timothy Corcoran, S.J. (Browne and Nolan, Dublin, 1932). A half-century later, a history was written by Fr Roland Burke Savage SJ and published in The Clongownian school magazine during the 1980s; that same decade, Peter Costello wrote Clongowes Wood: a History of Clongowes Wood College 1814-1989, published by Gill and Macmillan, Dublin, 1989).

Statue of Ignatius of Loyola in reception area


Clongowes is known for their strong pedigree in rugby union. Despite their relatively small size, Clongowes have won the Leinster Schools Rugby Senior Cup on eight occasions, winning their first final in 1926. Following this there was a gap of 52 years until their next title in 1978. Beginning with their 3rd title in 1988 and up until 2011, Clongowes have appeared in 13 finals, more than any other school in the competition during this period. Clongowes performed their first set of back to back titles with wins in 2010 and 2011. Clongowes have reached the final of the 2012 competition with a potential "Three-peat" on offer if victorious, the first time this will have happened since the 1960s.

Popular culture[edit]

The school featured prominently in James Joyce's semi-autobiographical novel A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. More recently, a documentary depicting a year in the life in the school was screened in 2001 as part of RTÉ's True Lives series.[15] The popular fictional series of Ross O'Carroll Kelly has mentioned Clongowes Wood on a number of occasions in the book and Irish Times column.

Selected past pupils[edit]

  • Frederick Boland, first Irish ambassador to the United Kingdom and to the United Nations, and father of Irish poet Eavan Boland
  • John Bruton, former Taoiseach of Ireland
  • Richard Bruton, Irish Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation
  • Francis Clery, British Army General who commanded 2nd Division during the Second Boer War
  • Peter Conlan, Barrister at Law, volunteered as Irish Merchant Marine lieutenant during the Emergency, died at sea 1945
  • John Convery, Colonial Judge on the Gold Coast (Ghana)
  • Simon Coveney, Irish Minister for Agriculture, Marine and Food
  • Thomas Crean, Irish rugby union player, British Army soldier and doctor
  • Joseph Dalton SJ, Jesuit who founded a number of Schools and Churches in Australia
  • Gordon D'Arcy, Irish rugby union international, British & Irish Lion, Leinster rugby player
  • Dr William Doolin, former editor of the Journal of the Irish Medical Association and President of the RCSI
  • Edmund Dwyer-Gray, 29th Premier of Tasmania
  • Eugene Esmonde, Second World World pilot and posthumous recipient of the Victoria Cross
  • David Kearney, Irish rugby union international, Leinster rugby player
  • Rob Kearney, Irish rugby union international, British & Irish Lion, Leinster rugby player
  • Enoch Louis Lowe, 33rd Governor of the U.S. state of Maryland
  • Francis Sylvester Mahony, 19th-century humorist known by the pen name "Father Prout"
  • Fergus McFadden, Irish rugby union international, Leinster rugby player.
  • Paul McGuinness, business manager for the Irish rock band U2
  • Charles Mitchel, RTÉ's first newsreader
  • Michael O'Leary, CEO of Ryanair
  • Kieran Prendiville, television writer, producer, and creator of the BBC drama Ballykissangel
  • Pat Reid, MBE, MC was a British Army officer who escaped from Colditz and noted non-fiction and historical author
  • John Ryan Artist, broadcaster, publisher, critic, editor, patron and publican
  • Brian Carney, Irish rugby league player
  • James Joyce, Writer and author of Ulysses
  • Oliver St.John Gogarty, Writer, critic, and inspiration for Buck Mulligan in Joyce's Ulysses
  • Maurice Healy (writer), author of the celebrated memoir The Old Munster Circuit
  • Michael Smurfit, Businessman, former CEO of Jefferson Smurfit Group and owner of 'The K Club', County Kildare
  • Barry O'Callaghan, Chairman and CEO of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, and the Chairman of Education Media and Publishing Group
  • Kevin O'Higgins, former Irish Vice-President of the Executive Council and Minister for Justice
  • Tom O'Higgins, Former Chief Justice, Former Minster for Health, Judge of the European Court of Justice
  • James FitzGerald-Kenney, O'Higgins' successor as Minister for Justice
  • John Redmond, Irish nationalist politician, barrister, MP in the House of Commons of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and leader of the Irish Parliamentary Party from 1900 to 1918
  • Thomas Kettle, Irish journalist, barrister, writer, poet, soldier, economist and Home Rule politician
  • Sir Richard Martin, High Sheriff of Dublin (1866), Privy Counsellor, and President of the Dublin Chamber of Commerce
  • Thomas Francis Meagher, Irish nationalist and leader of the Young Irelanders
  • Michael Joseph O'Rahilly, (The O'Rahilly), Irish Volunteer, killed in the Easter Rising
  • John Charles McQuaid, Catholic Archbishop of Dublin and Primate of Ireland between 1940-1972
  • John M. O'Sullivan, Cumann na nGaedheal politician, cabinet minister and academic
  • James John Skinner, first Minister of Justice of the Republic of Zambia and a former Chief Justice of Malawi
  • J. T. Walsh, US film actor with roles in Good Morning, Vietnam, A Few Good Men and others
  • Nick Hewer, UK television personality, PR consultant, star of The Apprentice and Countdown host
  • David McSavage, comedian, writer and producer of The Savage Eye
  • Aidan Heavey, CEO of Tullow Oil
  • John Joseph Sheil, Lord Justice of Appeal in Northern Ireland.
  • Patrick James Smyth, Irish politician and journalist
  • Thomas Finlay, former Irish Fine Gael politician and Chief Justice of the Supreme Court
  • Cornelius James Pelly MBE, Irish diplomat
  • Noel Purcell Irish Rugby Union player, Irish & GB water polo Olympian, arguably the first man to have represented two countries at the Olympics
  • Michael O'Higgins, Irish TD
  • Nial Fennelly, judge of the Supreme Court of Ireland, former Advocate General of the European Court of Justice
  • Niall McCarthy, Justice of the Supreme Court of Ireland
  • Gilbert Laithwaite, former British ambassador to Ireland and High Commissioner to Pakistan
  • James Patrick Mahon, Irish nationalist journalist, barrister, parliamentarian and international mercenary
  • Patrick McGilligan, former Irish Minister for Industry and Commerce
  • James Magee, Irish cricketer and rugby union player
  • Purcell O'Gorman, soldier and Home Rule League politician[16]
  • The O'Rahilly, Irish republican who took part in the Easter Rising
  • Donogh O'Malley, former Irish Minster for Health and Minister for Education
  • Micheal O'Siadhail, Irish poet
  • James John Skinner, former Zambian Minister for Justice and Chief Justice of Malawi
  • Patrick Quinlan, Australian cricketer and lawyer
  • Patrick Little, Irish Fianna Fáil politician. A founder-member of the party, he served in a number of Cabinet positions, most notably as the country's longest-serving Minister for Posts and Telegraphs
  • James FitzGerald-Kenney, Irish politician, former Minister for Justice
  • James O'Mara, Irish politician who became a nationalist leader and key member of the revolutionary First Dáil
  • Paddy Hopkirk, International Rally Driver, winner of Monte Carlo Rally
  • Tony O'Reilly, Junior, Irish businessman

Partner schools[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Mitchell, Susan; Maguire, Áine (July 20, 2008). "Parents face big jump in private school fees". The Post. Retrieved May 2, 2010. 
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^ Costello, Peter (1989). Clongowes Wood: a history of Clongowes Wood College, 1814-1989. Gill and Macmillan. ISBN 978-0-7171-1466-5. Retrieved 03-10-2011.  Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  8. ^ A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, James Joyce. Chapter 5, March 25, Morning: "A long curving gallery. From the floor ascend pillars of dark vapours. It is peopled by the images of fabulous kings, set in stone. Their hands are folded upon their knees in token of weariness and their eyes are darkened for the errors of men go up before them for ever as dark vapours."
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^ "1814 - 1886". Clongowes Wood College S.J. Archived from the original on 02-12-2009.  Check date values in: |archivedate= (help)
  13. ^
  14. ^
  15. ^ Irish Times
  16. ^ Brendan Barrington, ed., The Dublin Review issues 10-13 (2003), p. 15

External links[edit]