Castleknock College Union

Castleknock College 2012-13 Headmaster Review

from the desk of Oliver Murphy

Jul 5, 2013
Castleknock College 2012-13 Headmaster Review -


What a year it has been! We have record numbers in the school as well as record numbers applying for the school.

Why is this?  

Firstly, we have become one of the top academic schools in the country. The atmosphere in the College is one in which every student strives to do his best; where to do well is recognised and rewarded; where a dedicated team of enthusiastic teachers work hard to help every student reach his potential;  where teachers are allowed to teach and students are allowed to learn; where every 40-minute class is used to deliver an active, interesting, intensive lessons. As a result, the Irish Independent rated us as the joint top school in the country, with 100% of our students going on to third level. In the more recent Sunday Times league table based on students getting into universities in Ireland or the UK, we came 31st out of 729 schools. Over the last five years we have moved from 143rd to 91st to 79th to 33rd and now to 31st. These achievements are down to excellent teaching, hard work by students and support of parents.

In sport, we’ve had a great year, too. In rugby, the Senior IV won their Leinster League-Cup. The Seniors and Juniors competed well in the League, both going out to Gonzaga. Jack O’Neill won his place on the Ireland U19 team, but a hand injury set him back a bit. Past man Tom Farrell had a great run in the U20 Rugby World Cup under Mike Ruddock’s inspiring coaching. Having beaten Australia and Fiji, they came within a metre of beating the Baby All-Blacks (with Tom scoring a remarkable try) to get into the semi-finals. In athletics, we won a gold, a silver and a bronze at Tullamore (the All-Ireland finals) with Harry Purcell taking gold at 400m and bronze at 800m – and Conor Bermingham taking silver in the pole vault. In tennis, we made it to two finals (Junior & Junior B), losing both by the narrowest of margins. With table tennis we won silver in three Leinster league-cups under professional coach Tibor Pofuk. We had record numbers doing basketball – and Eoghain Kiernan won a place on the Irish team, thanks to coach Peter Palffy. Our Senior Chess won the Checkmate Tournament in Limerick and lost narrowly in the final of the All-Ireland Schools Championship to Gonzaga. Our Senior golfers had terrific wins over Blackrock and St Andrew’s before going out in the quarter-finals. Our rowers won a silver and a bronze at the all-Ireland finals in Ovens last week. We also competed well at cross-country, cricket, soccer and even swimming.  

Rugby will be on a firm footing next year with newly-appointed full-time Director of Rugby, Adrian Flavin (formerly of Connaught). With Colin Townsend managing the Senior team supported by Mike Ruddock and Darran Sheils, our Seniors will be a force to be reckoned with. All teams will be able to train on our new all-weather rugby training area which we are building on the old tennis courts behind Dowley House. The Supporters’ Club have helped us to get the infrastructure right up to date, for which we are deeply grateful. If any pastmen wish to volunteer to help out with rugby or any sport, please let us know.

It was possibly the best year ever for music: anyone who saw the fantastic production of Les Misérables would know what I am talking about. We also came 3rd in the final of the Walton’s Music for Schools Competition at the National Concert Hall. The Senior Quartet won more medals at Feiseanna than I have room to mention. There was a Junior Orchestra, a Senior Orchestra, a Soul Band, a Ukelele Band, a Choir, a Barbershop, and a lot more. Thanks to Fearghus Fallon, Paul Hunt and Sheena Maguire for inspiring so many of our students to do so well.

In debating, our Junior Debating Society and Senior Debating Society had a very year with Conor O’Callaghan taking the Junior Gold Medal and Cian McGoldrick the Senior Gold Medal. Thanks to Sharon Coombes and Jim McElroy who run these societies with tireless enthusiasm.

There is something else that makes our school great. It is our Vincentian ethos which runs through all that we do. The atmosphere in the college is one of mutual respect. In our college, we don’t mock difference, we applaud it. We like to have a school in which each pupil can be himself and find his own authentic voice. It’s a happy school. The friendships made here last a lifetime. The solidarity and support to the families of pastmen Brian Rossiter and Rory Doherty, who died recently, spoke volumes of the strength of character and spirit which our students, past and present, bring with them for all of their lives.

I would like to thank all of the pastmen who have helped in many different ways – by giving of their time, by donating funds, by supporting events – to make the school possibly the best school in the country.  

Oliver Murphy, Headmaster,

Castleknock College