Castleknock College

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St Vincent's Castleknock College
Coláiste Chaisleán Cnucha
Castleknock College Crest.jpg
Castleknock, Dublin
Type Independent All-Boys Private School
Motto Nos Autem in Nomine Domini
("We however, (put our trust) in the Name of the Lord")
Religious affiliation(s) Roman Catholic, Vincentian
Patron saint(s) Saint Vincent de Paul
Established 1835
President Very Revd Peter J. Slevin CM
Headmaster Mr Oliver Murphy
Chaplain Fr John Gallagher CM
Gender Male
Age range 12–19
Number of students 644
Colour(s) Navy and Sky Blue         

Castleknock College (Irish: Coláiste Caisleán Cnucha) is a private (fee-paying), secondary school for boys. Ages of the pupils vary from usually 12 to in and around 18/19. The school is situated in the residential suburb of Castleknock, 8 km west of the city centre in Dublin, Ireland.


In 1830, a year after the passing of Catholic Emancipation, priests from the Vincentian Community (Congregation of the Mission; CM) in Maynooth College obtained permission to open a day school under the patronage of the Archbishop of Dublin. On the 28 August 1833 a day school at 24 Usher's Quay Dublin was opened.

On 28 August 1835, St. Vincent's Ecclesiastical Seminary was opened in Castleknock, a boarding school catering for just 47 boys. The first student to enrol in 1835 was John Lynch of Clones, County 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 (New Zealand) in 1869. Fr. Philip Dowley a former Dean of Maynooth and Provincial for the Vincentians was the first President of the College. The College's position at the forefront of Irish Catholic education was affirmed on 22 April 1900, when Queen Victoria and her royal party visited the College.

Before the foundation of Clonliffe College in 1861, seminarians for the Dublin Diocese would study in Castleknock before completing their studies in Maynooth College.[1]


The College Motto is 'Nos Autem In Nomine Domini' ('We, however, in the name of the Lord'), which comes from Psalms xx 7. The text in the 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 college ethos is distinctly Vincentian in character; the mission statement is 'To have a College which is concerned with the development of the Whole person in a Christian atmosphere Which encourages involvement in a balance of Religious, Intellectual, Cultural and Sporting Activities And which promotes the growth of Self-worth and Respect for Others In the spirit of St Vincent de Paul.'[2]

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 charisma of the College.

The Board of Management of Castleknock College implements an admission policy that conforms with the Education Act 1998, the Education (Welfare) Act 2000 and the Equal Status Act 2000.

Academic life[edit]

Menu from celebration dinner.

The school aims for a low teacher/pupil ratio, and has a range of computing and science laboratories. Each year is looked after by at least one year head (Form Teacher) and four tutors. A wide range of extra-curricular activities including sport, language clubs, debating and music are offered, as is career guidance. The college's Alton reference and lending library is the largest second level library in Ireland. Computers with Internet connections are available.

BT Young Scientist Exhibition[edit]

Students participate in the annual BT Young Scientist Exhibition; over the years many have received awards and commendations for their projects. In January 2011 Alexander Amini, a student in Fourth Year, won the BT Young Scientist and Technologist of the Year 2011 award for his project entitled Tennis Sensor Data Analysis. Alexander was chosen to represent Ireland at the 23rd European Union Contest for Young Scientists in Helsinki, Finland in September 2011, where he also claimed the top prize against 38 countries.

Sporting tradition[edit]

Sporting facilities at the college include nine rugby pitches, one soccer pitch, a cricket crease with pavilion, table tennis room, a state of the art tennis courts, a fully equipped weights room and an athletics and running track.

Sport has been played at Castleknock since the foundation of the College. Throughout the mid-nineteenth century a game peculiar to Castleknock known as 'Stilts' was played by the entire student body on a gravel patch in College grounds. Owing to the often over-zealous efforts of the participants this game was discouraged by the College Fathers in favour of Association Football (soccer), which was the game of choice among students of Castleknock until 1909 when it was replaced by rugby as the College's primary sport.[citation needed] In 1918 the College won the Leinster Colleges Senior hurling championship. Shortly afterwards the playing of gaelic games was prohibited in the College and this ban has remained in place ever since.


Rugby posts were first erected in the College in November 1909. 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 apart from Belvedere College and Blackrock College. The Leinster Schools Junior Cup has also been won on eight occasions, the last time in 1966.

Twenty six past men have represented Ireland at full international level, the most recent being Leinster Rugby's Devin Toner (Class of 2004) who has been capped on three occasions. Toner is one of two past men to have won the Heineken Cup (2009, 2011, 2012) with Denis Hurley of Munster Rugby lifting the trophy in 2008.

Past men, James Leo Farrell and Michael Dunne were part of the British and Irish Lions touring squad to New Zealand and Australia. Farrell had also played for the Lions on the 1927 tour to Argentina.


Castleknock College has Minor, Junior, Intermediate and Senior Athletics teams which compete for, and have won, the West Leinster Championship.

Others sports[edit]

Castleknock College competes in a variety of other sports including cricket, athletics, tennis, golf, show-jumping, soccer.

Music Life[edit]

Beginning in 2011, the music department within the school began to grow as a result of new staff within the College. Where the music department were previously limited to musicals and music as a leaving certificate subject, there now exists an award winning Concert Orchestra, a Soul Band, a Junior Concert Band, a Barbershop Ensemble and an award winning Choir.[citation needed]

Spiritual life[edit]

The College chaplain and members of the Vincentian Community are available for guidance and counselling. The College has always encouraged pupils to become involved in caring for the less-well-off members of society.[citation needed]

Castleknock College Chapel[edit]

An annual Family Mass for each Year is celebrated at which boys of that Year and their families participate together with the Community and teachers. Masses are held at regular times in the Chapel (e.g. Lent, Advent, Exam Time). Year and Class Masses, Benediction, scripture/prayer group meetings are held regularly throughout the year. Opportunity to attend the Sacrament of Reconciliation is available during the school week and also after Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament on Thursday nights.

SVP - Society of Saint Vincent de Paul[edit]

Castleknock College was established by the Congregation of the Mission (Vincentians), the religious order founded by St. Vincent de Paul; the college follows the ethos and traditions of the Vincentian order. The most popular student society within the College is the St. Vincent de Paul Society; charity work undertaken by the school community is organised through the St Vincent de Paul Society.

Members are involved in helping the impoverished through a variety of means such as visiting local centres for people with special needs. The SVP conferences also raise funds and collect food for the sister conferences in the Dublin 15 area.

Castleknock Ambo Partnership[edit]

Inaugurated in 2008 and expected to continue indefinitely, the Young Vincentian Mission sends a small group of Fifth Year students to work and live with the Vincentian community in Ethiopia, for two to three weeks each summer, overseen by the VLM - Vincentian Lay Missionaries [1]. The first group in 2008 traveled to Mekelle in Northern Ethiopia and since 2009 the students have traveled to Ambo, Ethiopia. Successful applicants are trained and engage in a range of voluntary work for those struck by extreme poverty in Ambo, including teaching in the local Vincentian school, working in the Vincentian Food Programme, the Vincentian School for the Deaf, a leprosy village befriending members of the community and coaching Ambo United Football Club. Students are required to raise sufficient funds to meet their travel and subsistence expenses, and events are organised within and without the College to raise funds. This Development Programme has enabled the construction of expanded education facilities and the provision of medical and food supplies.[citation needed]

Extra–curricular activities[edit]

Extra–curricular activities offered include membership of the Painting Society, the Chess Club, Irish literature - Ceardlann Litríocht na Gaeilge, the Cumann Gaeilge, the Maths Society, the Prefect Mentoring System, Debating, Band, Music, Language societies (French, Spanish, German and Chinese), Book Club, student enterprise, SVP - Society of Saint Vincent de Paul, Speech and Drama, charity work, the History Society and Picasso's Left Ear (Student Intellectual Publication).


In 2007 the Under-16 Chess team won the Leinster Championship and finished Runners Up in the All-Ireland Championship. Sixth Year student, Anthony Bourached, recently won the Leinster Under-18 Chess Championship.


The school's debating society has contributed to the Irish World Schools Debating Team, with 5 students representing Ireland since the competition's beginning in 1988. In both 2007 (Alan Henry & Liam O'Connell) and 2008 (Adam Noonan & Killian Breen) the College won the Leinster Schools Senior Debating Championships.

Castleknock Chronicle[edit]

The Castleknock Chronicle has been published every year since 1888; it is a record of the main events in the College, and is a valuable historical source. It records the students in each year group and the members of every team and society in the college. In has photographs and articles written by staff and students about events in the college. The Chronicle also holds the distinction of being the publisher of the last-known photograph of the RMS Titanic.[3] As of 2011 it was being digitised.


There are two hills in the grounds: the Windmill Hill and the hill of the castle. The former 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 second hill is topped with the remains of Castleknock Castle which dates from the early thirteenth century, when it was founded by the Norman knight Hugh Tyrrell, who was later created Baron of Castleknock. He chose this location near the end of the esker which stretches from Galway to Dublin. Built on two mounds of the esker, it commanded the route into Dublin from the west. Castleknock was the final rallying point for the forces of the last High King of Ireland, Rory O'Connor. He failed to drive the Cambro-Normans from the area around Dublin in 1171.[citation needed]

The college is set on landscaped parkland estate with nine rugby pitches, a cricket crease and pavilion, a soccer pitch, an athletics and running track, six state of the art tennis courts and acres of land in which cows graze and wildlife such as pheasants, rabbits and squirrels are in abundance. There is car parking for students and others. The college is close to Castleknock village and is located beside Farmleigh Estate and the Phoenix Park.

Building works 2005–2009[edit]

From 2005 the College was renewed, at a cost in the region of €16 million. A 'Link Building' was built, and existing buildings expanded and refurbished; Irish President Mary McAleese officially opened the newly restored buildings on 29 September 2008. A state-of-the-art multi purpose sports and tennis ground was recently built, allowing for students and others to enjoy various activities.

Castleknock College Past Pupils Union[edit]

In 1896 the Castleknock College Union was founded by past pupils of the college; it claims to be 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 Roman Catholic to hold that office since the Reformation).[citation needed]

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. The first official Sports Day was held in the College on 4 April 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.[citation needed]

The objects of the Union are:to bring together pastmen of the College and to facilitate contact between them; to provide members with continuity of contact with the College and its staff, and to actively encourage co-operation and practical assistance in support of the College's objectives, and in particular to support worthy activities in which past pupils or the College are involved.[citation needed].

The Union consists of Ordinary Members, Honorary Members, Life Members and Honorary Life Members. The management of the Union affairs are vested in the Union Committee.

Notable past pupils[edit]

Academia, Science & Medicine

Arts & Media




Politics & Diplomacy



Notable past teachers[edit]

See also[edit]

  • Lazarists - Congregation of the Mission (Vincentians)


  1. ^ Secondary Schools - St. Vincents Castleknock Dubin
  2. ^ Retrieved 05/04/2018.  Check date values in: |accessdate= (help); Missing or empty |title= (help)
  3. ^

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 53°22′07″N 6°22′06″W / 53.3685°N 6.3683°W / 53.3685; -6.3683