Saint Eunan's College

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For the Christian churches, see St. Eunan's Cathedral. For the GAA team, see C.L.G. Naomh Adhamhnáin.

Coordinates: 54°57′06″N 7°44′44″W / 54.951737°N 7.745554°W / 54.951737; -7.745554

Saint Eunan's College
Coláiste Naomh Adhamhnáin
Saint Eunan's College, taken from a distance
Letterkenny, County Donegal
Motto In hoc signo vinces
(Latin for "in this cross you will conquer")
Established 1906
Principal Christopher Darby
Staff Fr. Johnathan Flood, Fr.Rory Brady, Fr.Carney, Neil " Flash " Gordon
Gender male
Colour(s) Red and Black
View of the College

Saint Eunan's College (Irish: Coláiste Adhamhnáin) is an all-male voluntary Roman Catholic secondary school in County Donegal, Ireland. Located in the Glencar area of Letterkenny, it is an imposing three-storey structure resembling a castle, and is known as "the castle on the hill".[1] It was designed by renowned Irish architect Thomas Francis McNamara. Noted also for the peculiar nature of its architecture, with four turreted round towers and flying buttresses modelled on the nearby Cathedral, it is divided by a capacious central courtyard, adjoined to an immense stone chapel and home to some unusual flora, fauna and fungi, completed by the conspicuous presence of a large monkey puzzle tree on its front lawn. Named after the Abbot of Iona Saint Eunan, a native of Donegal and patron saint of the Diocese of Raphoe, it celebrated its centenary in 2006.[2] Saint Eunan's College is a prolific sporting institution, having produced numerous footballers who have gone on to play for the Donegal senior football team at the highest level of the game. Current Donegal captain Michael Murphy and former captain Neil Gallagher, who led the team to the 2007 National Football League title, are among these. Among the current staff are All-Ireland winning Gaelic football All Star Colm McFadden, football manager Gary McDaid (currently of Glenswilly), football manager and former Donegal selector Mickey Houston and Ollie Horgan, who has managed Finn Harps and the Republic of Ireland national schoolboy football team.


Saint Eunan's College was founded as a boarding school in 1906 by the then Bishop of Raphoe, Patrick O' Donnell. Originally intended as a minor seminary, it was designed to prepare students for the Roman Catholic priesthood. Diocesan colleges became an increasingly popular feature at the time and were designed to give the best possible Catholic education to boys of every class.

The student population expanded in the 1920s and it was necessary to build a new extension to the College in the early 1930s. The current recreation hall was built in 1958 and the science block in 1968. The College Chapel was designed by J.J. Robinson, the architect of Galway Cathedral. It was completed in 1961 at a cost of £42,000.[3]

The 'new building' was opened in 1979 to cater for the 500 students enrolled at the time. Due to the growth of other second level schools in the area the number of boarders dropped extensively and in 1992, the boarding wing was finally shut down. Saint Eunan's College continues to this day as a Catholic School under the trusteeship of the Bishop of Raphoe.

The school currently serves approximately 900 students from Letterkenny and its surrounding area, and is one of the few remaining all-male schools in the north-western part of Ireland. The president, since 2009, is Christopher Darby and the vice principal, since 2010, is Mary Cunningham.

In 2007, the school came to the attention of the national media. Retailers were urged not to sell eggs and flour to students following a spate of attacks on passing cars.[4]

In 2009, Christopher Darby became the first lay person to become president of the college, taking over from Father Michael Carney.[5]

Centenary celebrations[edit]

Centenary celebrations began on Friday 6 October 2006 with an exhibition of photographs and the launch of the centenary booklet. The photographic exhibition included photographs from down through the years. It included photos of past and present staff and students as well as sports teams from the past one hundred years. Books, uniforms and other memorabilia were on display. The exhibition was opened by Séamus Hegarty, Bishop of Derry, a past student and a former patron of the school. On Saturday a sporting exhibition took place on the pitch. A veterans soccer match was organised along with a veterans gaelic football match. Mass was celebrated on Sunday by Philip Boyce, Bishop of Raphoe in St. Eunan's Cathedral. A dinner dance was held in the Mount Errigal Hotel later that evening.[6]

On Sunday 8 April 2007, golfer Paul McGinley launched the College Centenary Golf Classic. It was the final event in the centenary year celebrations and was played at Letterkenny Golf Club.[7]

Proposed extension[edit]

In recent years there has been an attempt to build a new extension.[8] Two plans were drawn up, but an approach has not yet been confirmed.

In meeting with planning regulations, the school has installed a series of ramps and two chair-lifts for the benefit of those attending or visiting the school who may need them. Three prefabs were installed in the Summer of 2008 as well as four more Prefabs that were installed in the Summer of 2010 to cater for the growing number of incoming first-years.

Allegations of child abuse[edit]

In his autobiography, which was released in 2010, internationally renowned chef Conrad Gallagher told of the abuse he received at the college. He discussed how the Christian Brothers would feel him up and attempt to interfere with him. However he has decided not to press charges against the abusers. He expressed his wish to put it all behind him.[9]

List of Presidents[edit]

Foreign exchange[edit]

Close-up view of the College's front gates with Coláiste Naomh Adhamhnáin, Leitirceanainn, and the motto In hoc signo vinces carved into the crest design

The college has taken part in a number of foreign exchange programmes involving schools in France and Austria.[10] Many European students have also availed of the college, from as far away as Spain, France and Austria. Every year a selection of teachers and students head for the European ski-slopes during the holidays.[11] The 2008 trip, when Neil Gordon led a troupe of skiers to the United States, proved eventful, as the plane home experienced engine difficulties and had to return to Boston. The aborted flight was covered by the media.[12]


In common with the vast majority of secondary schools in the Republic of Ireland, St Eunan's currently provides the qualifications of the Junior Certificate and the Leaving Certificate. It also provides the facilities for Transition Year which includes two work experience allotments and a choice between Computer or Sport GCSEs. The college is one of only 18 schools in the county that offers the LCA programme.[13]

At Junior Certificate level, the school offers art, woodwork and technical drawing. The college currently offers two foreign languages, French and German, at Junior Certificate and Leaving Certificate levels, but Irish is also compulsory, subject to some exemptions, as in all other secondary schools in Ireland. Spanish is offered during Transition Year along with French and German.

Transition Year modules (taken on a Friday afternoon) include first-aid, cooking, car maintenance, tourism and electronics. Yoga and juggling were introduced in 2007. Towards the end of the year, more diverse modules are offered such as tennis, karate, and drama (at An Grianán Theatre).

Junior and Leaving Certificate students usually undertake pre-test exams every February or March or April whilst the real exams follow swiftly in June.

Gaelic football[edit]


Physical education and team activities are important to the school, with a prolific record and several national titles in Gaelic football. Among the more important teachers to be found in the College are All-Ireland winning footballer Colm McFadden, Glenswilly manager Gary McDaid,[14] Finn Harps and Republic of Ireland schoolboys manager Ollie Horgan,[15] and Mickey Houston. Mickey is a former club manager and was also a team selector for the Donegal senior football team but quit after a row with the manager. He was enjoying the game when his authority was undermined and substitutions were made without his consultation.[16]

MacLarnon Cup[edit]

The senior Gaelic football team has in the past eight years won the MacLarnon Cup twice, the latest occasion being 2007. On Sunday 25 March 2007, the College, beat Rathmore by 1-09 to 2-03 at Casement Park in Belfast, having travelled there six days earlier only for the match to be postponed. The senior team then went on to beat Rice College of Westport in the All-Ireland B Colleges semi-final but were beaten themselves by St. Mary's of Edenderry in the All-Ireland Final at Breffni Park, County Cavan on Saturday 21 April 2007. The match went to extra time after a penalty save by Saint Eunan's goalkeeper John Carr, but the College eventually lost by 2-12 to 0-14. The team reached the semi-final of the MacRory Cup in 2008, only to be defeated by St. Michael's College of Enniskillen 1-17 to 0-7 on 22 February 2008.

Saint Eunan's College, with future inter-county footballers Rory Kavanagh and Colm McFadden part of the team, (indeed McFadden himself was to become a future teacher at the school) also won the MacLarnon Cup in 2000 for the first time since 1979,[17] as well as the Ulster Herald Cup in 2004.[18] The Herald Cup win was the school's first in 25 years.

MacRory Cup[edit]

Saint Eunan's College also has a history in the MacRory Cup, going back to finals in the 1950s and 1960s. The College made it as far as the semi-final as recently as 2008.

All Stars[edit]

Seven students have achieved Ulster All Stars while playing for the college, Mark McGowan,[19] Hugh Brendan Kerr Sean McEwen Michael Murphy Ciaran Cannon Shaun patton and Cormac Callaghan .[20] Rory Kavanagh, Colm McFadden, Neil Gallagher and Michael Boyle, who all previously played with college teams, are now members of the Donegal senior football team, while Michael Murphy, the Donegal team captain, also captained his school team.[21]

Other sports[edit]

The college has several national titles in soccer.[22] It is now also the number one athletics and basketball school in the county, with many county titles in various age groups. Golf[23] and swimming[24] are also popular. Even hurling teams, a sport which is not seen as very popular in Donegal, have reached the semi-finals of some competitions.[25] There is also a school rugby team and table tennis team.

After a number of years absent from the sport, Saint Eunan's College began competing in Rugby once again during the 2007-2008 academic year. The school started playing rugby competitively against other Donegal schools and developed U14, U16 and ultimately U18 squads. All age categories compete in their respective Donegal Schools Cup competitions against other schools: Abbey VS Donegal, Carndonagh CS, Coláiste Áiligh Leitir Ceanainn, Coláiste Cholmcille Ballyshannon, Loreto Milford, Mulroy College Milford, Rosses CS Dungloe, Saint Columb's College Derry and Saint Columba's College Stranorlar. Saint Eunan's College Rugby won its first ever silverware in January 2014 beating Saint Columba's College Stranorlar to win the Senior (U18s) Donegal Schools Cup.

Extra-curricular activities[edit]

The college offers chess to its students every Wednesday after school hours.[citation needed] This was once run by careers expert Paul O'Keefe (PO'K) who retired in 2009. The chess team has competed at national level.[citation needed]

The college's musical tradition can be seen every year in the annual Saint Eunan's College Rock Concert - held every May since 2002 in the local An Grianán Theatre.[26]

The college library is open to students during lunch hours on certain days of the week.

The college has long sent debating teams to competitions across Ireland while maths and science students have taken part in national and international competitions.[27] Students from the College also take part in the Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition,[28] with some success enjoyed in recent years.[29][30]

Distinguished guests[edit]

Selected past pupils[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Foley, Alan (11 September 2012). "Forward thinking McFadden". Donegal Democrat. Retrieved 11 September 2012. As a student, McFadden used to gaze at the framed team photographs dotting the interior walls of St Eunan's College in Letterkenny. It's where he teaches now. Although perhaps traditionally more a soccer school with All-Irelands continually coming through the towering gates of the school known as ‘the castle on the hill’, MacLarnon Cup winning teams are also immortalised in dusting print. 
  2. ^ Information and References, Saint Eunan's College website. Retrieved 6 July 2008.
  3. ^ Did You Know, Published in the 1995 edition of the Letterkenny and District Christmas Annual
  4. ^ "Garda crackdown on 'bad eggs' in rural town". Irish Independent. Independent News & Media. 27 January 2012. Retrieved 27 January 2012. ...Also this week, the principals of Letterkenny's two largest secondary schools joined forces in a letter to parents appealing for their assistance in encouraging their children to behave well. Father Michael Carney, principal of St Eunan's College, and Noel O'Fearraigh, principal of the Loreto Convent, said they were responding to complaints received from gardai and retailers in the town. 
  5. ^ "New president for St Eunan's College". Donegal Democrat. 2 July 2009. Retrieved 2 July 2009. 
  6. ^ "Plans for St Eunan's College Centenary celebrations". Donegal News. 22 September 2006. Retrieved 22 September 2006. 
  7. ^ a b "College backed by McGinleys". Irish Independent. Independent News & Media. 18 April 2007. Retrieved 18 April 2007. 
  8. ^ New Building/Extension, Saint Eunan's College Website
  9. ^ "Chef's bitter taste of St Eunan's revealed in new book". Donegal Democrat. December 2010. Retrieved December 2010.  Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  10. ^ Student Exchange, Saint Eunan's College Website
  11. ^ Ski Trips, Saint Eunan's College Website
  12. ^ "Aer Lingus flight to Shannon aborted". The Irish Times. Irish Times Trust. 11 January 2008. Retrieved 11 January 2008. 
  13. ^ Schools in Donegal providing the LCA, Leaving Certificate Applied website
  14. ^ McNulty, Chris (19 October 2013). "Manager's view: Heart and soul still there for Glenswilly boss Gary McDaid". Donegal News. Retrieved 19 October 2013. 
  15. ^ "Ollie Horgan new Harps Manager". Highland Radio. 26 November 2013. Retrieved 26 November 2013. 
  16. ^ "Houston's big problem". BBC Sport. 30 May 2001. Retrieved 30 May 2001. 
  17. ^ MacLarnon Cup, Saint Eunan's College Website
  18. ^ Herald Cup, Saint Eunan's College Website
  19. ^ Mark McGowan, Saint Eunan's College Website
  20. ^ All Stars, Saint Eunan's College Website
  21. ^ Sean Gallagher[disambiguation needed] legend of the game Gaelic Football, Saint Eunan's College Website
  22. ^ "Saint Eunan's claim schools double". RTÉ Sport. 4 May 2004. Retrieved 4 May 2004. 
  23. ^ Golf Pages, Saint Eunan's College Website
  24. ^ Swimming, Saint Eunan's College Website
  25. ^ Hurling, Saint Eunan's College Website
  26. ^ Musical/Concerts, Saint Eunan's College Website
  27. ^ Mathematics students for International Mathematical Olympiad in Vietnam
  28. ^ Debates - Quiz, Saint Eunan's College Website
  29. ^ "Donegal teenager wins 'Young Scientist of the Year' gong". Donegal Daily. 13 January 2012. Retrieved 13 January 2012. Eoin Farrell (15) from St Eunan's College, Letterkenny, won best individual project for his project to develop a more accurate way to estimate the weight of children brought into hospital. 
  30. ^ "Live: 2012 Young Scientist Exhibition". RTÉ News. RTÉ. 13 January 2012. Retrieved 13 January 2012. 1950: Best Individual award went to Eoin Farrell from St Eunan's College, Donegal, for his project Paediatric resuscitation: How reliable are existing weight estimation methods in Ireland. 
  31. ^ DN supplement with local newspaper, dated Friday 13 April 2007. SPORTS page 7.

External links[edit]