Catholic University School

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Catholic University School SM
CUS, Dublin logo.jpg
Latin: Sub Mariae Nomine
In Mary's name
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, Independent school
Religious affiliation(s) Marist Fathers
Established 1867
Headmaster Rev. Martin Daly SM MA, M.Sc.
Gender Male
Number of students 445 (2014/2015)[1]
Colour(s)          Blue and Red
Fees €5,200 Per Academic Year 2014/2015

Catholic University School (CUS) is a private independent, Catholic, secondary and primary school for boys in Dublin, Ireland. It is one of the earliest established private schools of Ireland which include Clongowes Wood College 1814, Belvedere College 1832, Castleknock College 1835, and Terenure College and Blackrock College, both 1860, which are all-boys schools.

The school has educated some very notable men in Irish society, including generations of politicians and leading figures in the academic, literary, and business worlds. It is run by the Marist Fathers on Leeson Street.[2]



The foundation of the Catholic University School has its basis in Daniel O'Connell's Catholic Emancipation movement of the late 1820s, the Catholic Relief Act 1829, and a broader Catholic Revival in the United Kingdom (of which Ireland was then part). Before then, while many Catholics received some degree of primary education, few received secondary education and very few received a University education.[citation needed] The only university in Ireland had been Trinity College, Dublin - the sole constituent college of the University of Dublin. However, although the University of Dublin (unlike the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge) had been opened to Catholics in 1793, only a few wealthy Catholics attended. And those who did had either been educated privately, or at schools such as Stonyhurst College in England.

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, and at the Synod of Thurles in 1850, the Catholic Church officially condemned them as "Godless Colleges". They declared a need for a Catholic University and Cardinal John Henry Newman became the first Rector. The Catholic University of Ireland was founded in 1851 - though not fully established until 18 May 1854.[citation needed]

Early years[edit]

The University faced several problems in its opening years due to lack of money, and public and political support – which in turn led to a low number of students. Dr Daniel Murray, the Archbishop of Dublin established a school at 16-17 Harcourt Street to ensure larger numbers of students for the new university and named the school after Saint Laurence O'Toole, the patron Saint of Dublin. St. Laurence's Academy, founded in 1850, was accompanied by Belvedere College established by the Jesuits in 1832 on the north side of the city.

The first administrators 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, and within a year the school had an enrollment of 130 students. 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.

Not only had Quinn taken up his appointment in Brisbane, but the reaction to a report by the Royal Commission on Endowed Schools in 1858 was coming to a head in 1859. The report suggested that all intermediate schools be run on a "mixed basis" or as an interdenominational system, which was opposed by the Catholic Church. The report also suggested that intermediate schools be under the management of the "Board of Endowed Schools". The bishops and synods opposed these recommendations, and the Catholic hierarchy as a whole decided that they would not agree to them.

By 1862, many changes had taken place. Dr. Bartholomew Woodlock took over as rector of the Catholic University, and suggested that the university should ignore the report's recommendations and proceed with the foundation of feeder secondary schools on its own. He decided to set up two new Catholic secondary schools: Catholic University High School, Waterford, and St. Flannan's College in Ennis - the latter of which still exists. Along with St. Laurence's Academy in Dublin, these schools were the Catholic University's primary "feeder schools". Over time, St. Laurence's Academy developed a close relationship with the University. Woodlock was 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.

Marist takeover[edit]

In the early 1860s, the finances of the School and University were intertwined, and the rent for the Harcourt Street premises was a high £26000 per annum. Neither the school nor the University were able to cope with this burden. The other two schools were not succeeding, and Dr. Woodlock was anxious to relieve himself of the burden of all three schools. While the Catholic University School got into deeper financial trouble, Cullen was adamant that it was not possible for CUS to close down even for a year - because it would be possible that the school would never open again.

In 1867 both Cullen and Woodlock travelled to Dundalk for the consecration of Michael Kiernan as Archbishop of Armagh. While there, they visited the Marist College in Dundalk and were impressed with what they saw. Subsequently, Cullen and Dr. Conroy, his secretary, wrote to John Letterrier, father superior of Dundalk, and offered him and the Marists St. Laurence's Academy to take over. Letterrier brought 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.

After Letterrier returned from Lyons in July 1867, Woodlock informed him 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 work was required to prepare the Leeson Street building so it could be used as a school. On 29 September 1867 the Catholic University School opened on Lower Leeson Street.


Admission to Catholic University School is based on academic entrance exams as well as interviews of the boy and his parents by a member of the teaching staff and then by the Headmaster. Brothers of current or former pupils as well as sons of alumni are given preference for entry to the school. CUS offers a very limited number of scholarships and exhibitions for excellence in sport (Ronnie Delany scholarship) and academic work (Sarsfield-Hogan scholarship) to talented boys who wish to attend the school but can not afford to pay the fees.


The curriculum offered at the school is broad, covering all common subjects in the State Examinations including Classical Studies, German, Art, Technical Graphics, Chemistry, Physics, Accounting and Economics. Leaving Cert scores are very high, with over 70% of students scoring 500 points or more.[3] Catholic University School is placed in the top ten schools in Ireland with 100% of students accepting a place in Higher or Further Education.[4] CUS is also a feeder school for top Irish Universities as well as prestigious universities abroad. The pupil to teacher ratio is 9:1, which is low by general school standards. Class sizes start at around twenty to twenty-three in first year and are often below ten for most senior cycle subjects. The Preparatory School offers the full Primary School Curriculum (Maths, English, Irish, S.E.S.E, Art, Music, Drama, S.P.H.E, Religion. P.E). In addition to the Curriculum the following subjects are also taught in the Primary School: Classics, Latin Spanish, Mandarin.

School traditions[edit]

Catholic University School has many traditions which both pupils and teachers continue to carry out to this day.

Traditional awards[edit]

  • The Head's list awards pupils recognition in each year group for consistent hard work and effort throughout the year.
  • Pupils who achieve excellence in a modern language are awarded the title of Sarsfield-Hogan Scholars and a Bursary towards the school fees.
  • The Cusack cup is awarded each year to the student who gains the best results in the Junior Certificate exams.
CUS-Georgian Staircase

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.

Other school traditions and cultures[edit]

Religious traditions of the school include weekly services in the school Oratory and annual services for deceased past pupils. The school also has a long-standing connection to SVP and holds an annual "hamper fund" in order to raise funds to the charity. CUS also sends a group of students on an annual basis to Davao in the Philippines, where they teach English to the homeless, and also help with the various Marist Missions. Daily collections are also held in the school with pupils and teachers contributing generously. Catholic University School also publishes an annual school yearbook which brings to light the achievements of pupils and the school along with the charitable work of pupils and other school news.

School facilities[edit]

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

Catholic University School is located near St. Stephen's Green in Dublin. The Georgian buildings to the front of the school are home to an extensive Georgian library, debating chamber, and other formal function rooms as well as the school Oratory and Headmasters residence. The old buildings of the school include a great hall decorated in the Victorian style, a sports hall with a modern underground gym and changing rooms and the "old school" building, a Victorian building home to the English, Classics and History departments of the school. CUS also houses 2 modern buildings constructed around 2008. These buildings contain several classrooms, 3 science laboratories and 2 state of the art computer rooms. The new buildings also house the school's new modern restaurant. The school also owns a large area of land in Milltown, Co. Dublin, this is home to the schools 4 rugby pitches and cricket field as well as the sports pavilion. In 2013 the old pavilion was demolished and replaced with a new modern building. This 1.5 million Euro development was completed in September 2013. CUS also has tennis courts and swimming pool facilities near-by in Ballsbridge.


Starting in 1990 the school began a large renovation project which resulted in the construction of several new buildings at an estimated cost of over 4 million Euro. The Georgian buildings at the front of the school have also recently undergone restoration work.


The school has a long association as a rugby school, with students released on Wednesday afternoons to participate in sports. Rugby and cricket take place in Bird Avenue, Milltown. The school plays Cricket from Easter on. CUS is regarded as one of the dominant cricket schools in Leinster and Ireland. Other sports played during summer half include Golf, Badminton, Polo, Tennis, Squash, Athletics and Eton Fives. All sports are under the jurisdiction of the school games-master responsible for the organisation of all sporting activity within the school. Olympic gold medal winner Ronald Delany is a past pupil.


In addition to the teachers, a limited number of senior boys are entitled to exercise School discipline. Boys who belong to any of these categories, in addition to a limited number of other boy office holders, are entitled to wear a distinctive form of the school jumper with a prefects badge or crest. Sixth Year Prefects are a prefectorial group consisting, by custom, of 15 senior students selected by the Headmaster upon recommendations.[5] These recommendations are made by teachers based on an interview the students elect to undertake the previous term. Sixth year prefects maintain dress code regulations and perform Speeches at formal events held during the year.

Literary and Debating Society[edit]

School Debating Competition

Catholic University School is one of the dominant schools in debating with students winning prizes at a provincial and national level. The Literary and Debating Society has produced a variety of acclaimed debaters. Members have represented Ireland at UCD, Trinity and The World Schools Debating Championship. Past pupils have also become prominent at university level with former members noted as figures in The Trinity College Historical and Philosophical societies, as well as UCD L&H.

The society is governed by senior students. The head of the society is The Auditor assisted by the Convener. The school also actively encourages boys to take part in internal school debates and speeches with the junior L&D society playing an increasingly prominent role in school life. Literary excellence in students is rewarded with the Sebastian Barry award for English. This is a creative writing competition run by the English department.

CUS Past Pupils Union[edit]

Catholic University School Union is one of the oldest past pupils unions in Ireland.[6] The union is a forum for former pupils to gather for events such as the Presidents annual dinner, Christmas Lunch at the Stephens Green Hibernian Club or the Past vs Present pupils golf competition. Former union presidents include Sir Arthur Chance, Mr. Justice Richmond McLoughlin and Niall O'Farrell.

Notable alumni[edit]




Law, Medicine and Business

Arts and Literature


  • John Pius Boland - Barrister, first ever winner of Olympic gold medals for tennis and MP for South Kerry
  • Ronald Delaney - Irish Olympic gold medal winner (athletics) and honorary Doctor of Law.
  • Eoin Morgan - Cricketer, Ireland, Middlesex and England.


  • James Moriarty - Bishop Emeritus of the Diocese of Kildare and Leighlin



  • Henry, Dalton (1985). "Educating and Enlightening". Ireland's Elite. Dublin: MacMillan. ISBN 978-0-312-05726-8.