Catholic University School

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Catholic University School
CUS, Dublin logo.jpg
89 Lower Leeson Street, Dublin 2
Coordinates 53°20′07″N 6°15′21″W / 53.335364°N 6.255966°W / 53.335364; -6.255966Coordinates: 53°20′07″N 6°15′21″W / 53.335364°N 6.255966°W / 53.335364; -6.255966
Type Private school
Motto Sub Mariae Nomine
(Under the name of Mary)
Religious affiliation(s) Roman Catholic
Society of Mary
Established 1867
Thomas Byrne
Gender Male
Number of students 503 (2017/2018)[1]
Colour(s)          Blue and Red
National ranking 30 (2016)[2]
Founder(s) Bartholomew Woodlock
John Henry Newman

Catholic University School (C.U.S.) is a private school for boys in Dublin, Ireland. The school was established by Bartholomew Woodlock and Cardinal John Henry Newman as a preparatory school for the Catholic University of Ireland.[3][4]

The school has educated Irish politicians, leading academic and literary figures, and 3 Olympic Gold medalists.[5][6] It is run by the Marist Fathers on Leeson Street.[7]



The foundation of the Catholic University School has its basis in the Catholic Revival movement of the late 1820s. For over 250 years, the only university in Ireland had been Trinity College, Dublin – the sole constituent college of the University of Dublin. While the Trinity College, Dublin had been opened to Catholics in 1793, only a few attended.[8] Those Catholics who did were mainly educated in England at schools such as Stonyhurst College.[9]

Bartholomew Woodlock
First president of the School

In response to this issue, in 1850, Queen Victoria granted a Royal Charter founding three colleges of the Queen's University of Ireland. The colleges in Cork, Belfast and Galway were non-denominational. However, at the Synod of Thurles in 1850, the Catholic Church officially condemned these institutions as "Godless Colleges" and declared a need for a Catholic University.[10] Thus, the Catholic University of Ireland was founded in 1851 – though not fully established until 18 May 1854 with Cardinal John Henry Newman as its first Rector.

Early years[edit]

To ensure larger numbers of students for the new university, Dr Daniel Murray, the Archbishop of Dublin established a school at 16–17 Harcourt Street and named the school after Saint Laurence O'Toole, the patron Saint of Dublin. St. Laurence's Academy, founded in 1850, was accompanied by the establishment of Belvedere College by the Jesuits in 1832 on the north side of the city. The University, as yet, had no dedicated preparatory or feeder school.

17 Harcourt Street, the original location of the school

By 1862, Dr. Bartholomew Woodlock took over as rector of the Catholic University, and suggested that the university proceed with the foundation of its own feeder school. Over time, St. Laurence's Academy developed a close relationship with the University. Woodlock was the first President of the school and professors from the University also taught in the school. The school was given a name reflecting its function: the Catholic University School.[11]

The first teachers in the school were mostly young Dublin priests who had studied at the Irish College in Rome. Among them was Dr. James Quinn, who set about enrolling students from wealthy Catholic families. Within a year the school had an enrollment of 130 students.[12] The subjects taught were classical rather than practical and included Greek, Latin, French, German, Italian and the Arts. Pope Pius XI eventually chose Quinn as the first Roman Catholic Archbishop of Brisbane, Australia – and he left the school.[13]

Marist takeover[edit]

In the early 1860s, the finances of the Catholic University School and University were intertwined, and the rent for the Harcourt Street premises was a high £2600 per annum. Neither the school nor the University were able to cope with this burden. Archbishop of Dublin, Paul Cullen was adamant that it was not possible for C.U.S to close down even for a year – because it would be possible that the school would never open again.[14]

In 1867 both Cardinal Cullen and Woodlock travelled to Dundalk for the consecration of Michael Kiernan as Archbishop of Armagh.[15] While there, they visited the Marist College and believed that Marist administration would be beneficial to the Catholic University School. Subsequently, Cullenbrought the offer to the General Council of the Marist Fathers in Lyons in France. After a two-day petition, he convinced the Council of the benefit of taking on the Dublin school. In July 1867, Woodlock informed Cullen of the financial burden the Harcourt Street premises had been. He recommended that the Marists purchase new premises, and when 89 Lower Leeson Street became available, the Marists purchased it. The Harcourt Street site remained on as the premises for the school for a short while as refurbishments were carried out on the Leeson Street building. On 29 September 1867 the Catholic University School opened on Lower Leeson Street.[16]

Church historian and cleric Leo Chamberlain has suggested that the foundation of secondary education under Cardinal Newman was an important development in Catholic teaching in Ireland and Britain.[17] Chamberlain describes Newman's school as a Catholic Eton. He argues that Newman's aim was to provide an education to Catholic elites preparing them for University education with future leadership roles in mind.[18]


The curriculum offers over 20 subjects[19] and covers all common subjects in the State Examinations including Classical Studies, Art History, German, Art, Art history, Chemistry, Physics, Accounting and Economics.[20] Academically, the school is ranked at 30th place nationally (2016).[21][22] The pupil to teacher ratio is 9:1.[23][24] Class sizes start at around twenty in first year and can be below ten for some senior cycle subjects.[16] The Preparatory School offers the full Primary School Curriculum as well introducing pupils to music and Spanish.

School traditions[edit]

School Songs[edit]

The school has a long musical history and this is displayed through the school song “Walking On” which is sometimes heard at school rugby matches, and other celebratory school events. The primary religious anthem of the school in recent years has been Dominican Magnificat, taken from The Magnificat passage in The Gospel of Luke.[25]


The school also has a long-standing connection to Society of Saint Vincent de Paul and holds an annual "hamper fund" in order to raise funds to the charity. Each year students also travel to Davao in the Philippines where they teach English to the homeless, and also help with the various Marist Missions.[26]


Historically, the school was divided into three houses; Colin, Sarsfield, and Hogan.[27] Students were placed under the supervision of a housemaster, usually a clerical member of the teaching staff. This house system fell out of use by the early 20th century.[28]


The school is located near St. Stephen's Green in Dublin. School buildings include; the Georgian buildings to the front of the school containing the Oratory and Headmasters residence, Victorian buildings, a sports hall with gym and changing rooms and the "old school" building.[24]

The school also owns a large area of land in Milltown, Co. Dublin, this is home to the school's rugby pitches and cricket field as well as the sports pavilion.[16]

Photochrom print showing St. Stephen's Green at the end of the 19th century

School Activities[edit]


The school has a long association as a rugby school, with students participating in sports on Wednesday afternoons. Rugby and cricket take place in Bird Avenue, Milltown.[29] The school plays Cricket from Easter on. CUS participates in Schools cricket competitions in Leinster and all-Ireland level. Other sports played during summer half include Golf, Badminton, Tennis, Squash and Athletics. Three Olympic Gold Medalists have attended the school; John Pius Boland, Ronnie Delaney, and David Malone.[30]

Literary and Debating Society[edit]

Students have represented Ireland at The World Schools Debating Championship. Past pupils have also become prominent at university level with former members noted as auditors of The Trinity College Historical and Philosophical societies.

Past Pupils Union[edit]

The CUS Union is the past pupils association of the school founded in 1902.[19] In June 2002, the Past Pupils Union was hosted by then President of Ireland Mary McAleese at the presidential residence, Áras an Uachtaráin.[31] Former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern also spoke at the school's annual dinner in 2002.[32]

Recent guest speakers have included Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Mary Mitchell O'Connor,[33] media personality Eamon Dunphy[34] and broadcaster George Hook.[35] Former union presidents include Sir Arthur Chance – Royal Surgeon, High Court Judge Mr. Justice Richmond McLoughlin, and businessman Niall O'Farrell.

Notable alumni[edit]

Former Pupils have included:[36]


Arts, Entertainment, and Literature

Government and Politics [38]

Law, Medicine and Business [39]


Sports [41]


  1. ^ "Data on Individual Schools". Department of Education & Skills. Retrieved 14 May 2018. 
  2. ^ Sunday Times School League Tables 2016
  3. ^ Ciaran O'Neill, Catholics of Consequence: Transnational Education, Social Mobility, and the Irish Catholic Elite 1850–1900, (Oxford,2014), p.110.
  4. ^ Holden, Louise (7 October 2008). "Troubling times at CUS". 
  5. ^ John Pius Boland, Ronnie Delaney, and David Malone.
  6. ^ "Catholic University School". Retrieved 5 January 2015. 
  7. ^ Paul Shrimpton, The 'Making of Menn', The Idea and Reality of Newman’s University in Oxford and Dublin, pp. 54–8.
  8. ^ Michael Tierney, Struggle with fortune : a miscellany for the centenary of the Catholic University of Ireland, 1854-1954, (Dublin, 1954)
  9. ^ Whittle, Sean, Newman and Contemporary Debates about Catholic Education, New Blackfriars, (2015), Vol. 96, pp.279–294.
  10. ^ Cusack, M.F., The patriot's history of Ireland, Dublin, 1869, p.351.
  11. ^ Bartholomew Woodlock, Catholic university education in Ireland : a letter to the Rt. Hon. W.H.F. Cogan (1888)
  12. ^ Ian Kerr, John Henry Newman : a biography, (Oxford, 1990), p. 24
  13. ^ Kerr, John Henry Newman : a biography, p. 29.
  14. ^ Colin Barr, 'An Italian of the Vatican Type: The Roman Formation of Cardinal Paul Cullen, Archbishop of Dublin', A Journal of Irish Studies, 2016, Vol 6, pp. 27-47
  15. ^ Dáire Keogh & Albert McDonnell, Cardinal Paul Cullen and his world, (Dublin, 2010)
  16. ^ a b c
  17. ^ Chamberlain, Leo, A Catholic Eton Newman's Oratory School, Logos: A Journal of Catholic Thought & Culture. (2008), Vol. 11, pp.69–85.
  18. ^ Chamberlain, Leo, A Catholic Eton Newman's Oratory School, Logos: A Journal of Catholic Thought & Culture. (2008), Vol. 11, p.80.
  19. ^ a b "CUS Union Facts". Retrieved 29 July 2017. 
  20. ^ CUS Union
  21. ^ "About School League Tables". Archived from the original on 29 October 2016. Retrieved 30 October 2016. 
  22. ^ "About League Tables -". Archived from the original on 2016-10-29. 
  23. ^ "School Detail". 
  24. ^ a b "Catholic University School, 89 Lower Leeson Street, Dublin 2 - The Irish Times Feeder Schools". 
  25. ^ M.F Cusack, The patriot's history of Ireland, (Dublin, 1869), p. 127.
  26. ^ "Catholic University School". Retrieved 30 October 2016. 
  27. ^ C.U.S., 1967, p.57.
  28. ^ C.U.S., 1967, p. 82.
  29. ^ "Athletics' golden boy Ronnie Delaney: 'I knew I was as good as anyone in the world so my expectation was that I would win' -". 
  30. ^, Copyright 2014,. "Catholic University School". 
  31. ^ "Centenary Visit To Áras An Uachtaráin". CUS Union. 25 June 2002. Retrieved 26 September 2017. 
  32. ^ Centenary Dinner Speech by Bertie Ahern CUS Union- Annual dinner 2002
  33. ^ "2017 ANNUAL DINNER". 2017. Retrieved 30 May 2017. 
  34. ^ "Eamon Dunphy, Guest Speaker". Retrieved 30 May 2017. 
  35. ^ "Annual Dinner 2015". Retrieved 30 May 2017. 
  36. ^ "- CUS Union Past Presidents". Retrieved 30 October 2016. 
  37. ^ "Playing the joker; Time and place Baz Ashmawy; The RTE presenter tells Kate Butler about his misguided teenage years when he was surrounded by nurses". Sunday Times. 4 January 2009. p. 9.  – via Academic OneFile (subscription required)
  38. ^ "Turtle Bunbury - Award-winning travel writer, historian and author based in Ireland". 
  39. ^ "- CUS union - About Us". 
  40. ^ Fox, Dara (22 November 2009). "House of the future..." Irish Mail on Sunday. p. 91. Retrieved 26 September 2017.  – via InfoTrac Newsstand (subscription required)
  41. ^ "Centenary Dinner Speech - Bertie Ahern". CUS Union. Archived from the original on 24 May 2016. Retrieved 26 September 2017 – via Wayback Machine. 
  42. ^ "One for the future; Eoin Morgan, Middlesex and Ireland". Sunday Times. 21 March 2004. p. 28. Retrieved 26 September 2017.  – via Academic OneFile (subscription required)
  43. ^ Lanigan, Philip (31 August 2014). "Money may matter but family shows true value of Dubs' fortune". Irish Mail on Sunday. p. 41. Retrieved 26 September 2017.  – via InfoTrac Newsstand (subscription required)


External links[edit]