Glenstal Abbey School

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Glenstal Abbey School
The current Glenstal Abbey School logo
Murroe, County Limerick
Republic of Ireland
Type Boys only, 7-day Full Boarding and Day Boarding (Mon-Sat)
Motto PAX
Religious affiliation(s) Roman Catholic
Established 1932
Headmaster Fr. William Fennelly OSB
Number of students c.200

Glenstal Abbey School is a fee-paying secondary school for boys, located on the grounds of Glenstal Abbey, in Murroe, County Limerick. It is run by monks of the Benedictine order. The school offers 7-day full boarding, as well as day boarding (Mon-Sat), and is regularly ranked amongst the top schools nationally, if not the top.[1][2][3]


Glenstal is a Norman Revivalist Castle, designed by William Bardwell, an English architect and built by Sir Matthew Barrington in 1839. Sir Charles and Lady Barrington left Ireland permanently in 1925 and the castle and estate were purchased shortly after by a priest, Monsignor James Ryan, for the nominal sum of £2,000. Some months after the purchase, Msgr Ryan wrote to Celestine Golenvaux, the Abbot of the Benedictine monastery at Maredsous, and invited him to come to Ireland and set up a daughter house in Glenstal and by March 1927, the first two Belgian monks had arrived at Glenstal to establish the new house.

In September 1932, the monks opened a Secondary School with Fr Columba Skerret as Headmaster, and with an intake of just seven pupils. The first lay teacher of the school was Vincent Quirke, from Wexford.


The Chapel Lake in Glenstal

Glenstal is south facing and has an excellent view of the Galtee Mountains. It is on an estate of around 500 acres (2.0 km2), of which some is farmland, forestry, games fields, lakes, gardens and school and monastery buildings.

The Abbey grounds contain a great variety of trees and flowers, mostly planted during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries by the Barrington Family. There are also five artificial lakes, mostly stocked with trout and one of which pupils may swim in during the summer months.

School Life[edit]

The Main Castle in Glenstal

The school is divided into three houses, Junior House, Inter House and Senior House. Each house has its own Housemaster. Each house has dormitories for the boys to sleep in, a common room with a television, the housemaster's office and a "Pantry" (a basic cooking area with a microwave, kettle and fridge). Junior House holds the first and second years, Inter House the third and fourth years and Senior House the fifth and sixth years. The dormitories range in size from two beds to about sixteen. The sixth years have their own rooms, which include a bed, wardrobe, desk and washbasin.

Second to fifth years have designated study places (known as "Trenches") in rooms along the "Study Corridor". This corridor is supervised by a member of staff during study times. First Years study in one of two designated class rooms and are supervised by Prefects from 5th year. Prefects are nominated by the Headmaster and Senior Housemaster.


Glenstal vs Newtown

The main sport in Glenstal is and has always been rugby union. For all students in first and second year it is mandatory that they play rugby union. Teams are fielded at all ages from U-14 to U-19 and are involved in both friendly and competitive fixtures from late-September until March. Over the years Glenstal has produced many fine sportsmen - notably rugby players, athletes and tennis players. In recent years the school has enjoyed some success off the rugby pitch in local and regional track and field, tennis and soccer competitions.

Sports Facilities[edit]

Glenstal has very good sporting facilities. These include a sports hall, four rugby pitches, a soccer pitch, six tennis courts and a well equipped gym (for seniors only). Glenstal does not have a swimming pool, but there is a large lake beside the main rugby pitches where students are allowed to swim (with staff supervision) during the summer term.

During the summer term the main rugby pitches are turned into a 400 m grass running track and there is an area for shot put, javelin and discus throwing. There are also soccer pitches marked out.


Glenstal's music department offers lessons in many instruments, for example drums, guitar, violin, clarinet, piano. Most of these instruments are taught to the students by people from outside of the school who come in during the day or evening to give half hour lessons.The school is renowned for producing wonderful musical talent.


Barry Lynch as Fagan and Conor Hanson as a Fagan's Boy in Oliver (2005)

Glenstal Abbey School puts on a musical or straight drama every year around March. Usually an outside director is engaged, who works closely with the musical director to put the show together. The roles are almost always played by students of the school, the only exception being some female parts played by girls from neighbouring girls' schools.

Previous shows have been Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde, Oliver!, We Will Rock You, Buddy – The Buddy Holly Story and Grease (musical)

Notable former pupils[edit]


External links[edit]