First College Website
This is a screen scrape of the College's first website, which was designed by Andrew Byrne, whilst a student at the College. The original, if still available, is to be found here.
Our mission is to have a College which is concerned with the development of the whole person in a Christian atmosphere which encourages involvement in a balance of Intellectual, Cultural and Sporting Activities and which promotes the growth of self-worth and respect for others in the spirit of St. Vincent de Paul.
Educating for Life
One of the major decisions facing all parents is the selection of the right school for their children. This is information is intended to outline the tradition, ethos, aspirations and structures of Castleknock College, which offers seven day boarding, or day pupil facilities. There is of course no substitute for visiting the College itself and experiencing at first hand the organization and character of the school, situated in grounds of 100 acres of parkland, yet within easy reach of Dublin whose rich cultural, historical and sporting facilities are so readily accessible to our students.
With a history going back over one hundred and sixty years, Castleknock has constantly sought to prepare its boys to meet the challenges of their day. While adapting to changing times, the College has always encouraged each pupil to reach his full potential and attain personal fulfillment.
Mindful that school days are not merely a preparation for life, the College strives to implement the injunction of St. Vincent de Paul that we are to "live together in the manner of dear friends."
The resulting relationship between priests, teachers and boys is the cornerstone of the Castleknock family spirit, and continues long after school days among the past pupils or "pastmen" as they are known, of the College.
Adopting a caring yet disciplined approach, the College aims to achieve high academic standards within a balanced education. Particular emphasis is placed on personality and character development as the basis of a rewarding life. The College also promotes the spiritual and religious growth of its pupils by creating a truly Christian atmosphere. It leads them to maturity within the context of the Christian faith that will continue to colour and inform their outlook to the end of their lives.
Origin and Development
In 1830, a year after the passing of the Catholic Emancipation, four young priests from Maynooth College obtained permission to open a day school under the patronage of the Archbishop of Dublin at Usher's Quay, not far from the city center. The new school was given the title "St. Vincent's Academy."
So successful was it that, after just two years, the priests decided to expand and found a boarding school. In 1834 they purchased a house and estate in Castleknock, Co. Dublin, for the sum of £3,600, donated by the family of one of the priests.
Transition to Castleknock
In August 1835 St. Vincent's Boarding School was opened, catering for just 47 boys. Over the next 160 years it evolved through building, refurbishment and the provision of the most up-to-date facilities into today's fully-equipped College, at the forefront of the Irish education system.
The Vincentian Community, true to the ideals of Castleknock's founding fathers, have continued to administer the College with the welcome advice and assistance of pastmen.
By 1986, the need to establish a more formal structure had become evident. In that year, a Governing Body was set up, consisting of men and women, including pastmen of the College and Vincentian Fathers, all prominent in professions, in industry, the public service, politics and the Church. Meeting on a quarterly basis, the Governing Body is linked to the main College staff through a system of committees in such areas as finance, building, and education.
Since the establishment of the Governing Body, Castleknock College has entered a new era; one that promises a future that will be worthy of the College's distinguished past.
An Integrated School
In 1987, in line with many leading boarding schools in the U.K, and on the Continent, the College welcomed day pupils for the first time since the days of the Academy. The integration has proved particularly fruitful, and has brought a new dynamism to Castleknock. Among other benefits, it has provided for easy transition to boarding for some 5th and 6th year day students attracted by the more structured regime and the facility of study bedrooms in the preparation for Leaving Certificate exams.
Since the foundation of Castleknock College in 1835, "pastmen" have gone on to play prominent roles in the political, business, professional and farming life of the country as well as in the Public Service, the Judiciary, the Arts and the Church. Over the years, through their loyalty and practical support, they have contributed greatly to the tradition of Castleknock.
The College Union
The past pupils union is the oldest Catholic Union in Ireland and was founded in 1896. The first president was Lord Russell of Killowen, one time Lord Chancellor of England, whose portrait hangs in the College Refectory. He was the forerunner of a distinguished line of pastmen from all walks of life and every part of the country who have subsequently held this position.
The Union organizes various functions throughout the year, most notably The Annual Dinner; the Retreat for pastmen at the College every Good Friday; the Castleknock Business lunch; Golf outings; Provincial Dinners and the biennial UK Dinner on the eve of the Irish rugby match at Twickenham.
Over its long history the Union has, through its philanthropy, assisted the Castleknock Boys Club, an inner city project. It is currently supporting its own Conference of the Society of Vincent de Paul for the Travelling Community.
The College Chronicle
Since its first issue in 1886 the Castleknock Chronicle has annually recorded the history of the College. It is a constant source of interest to our pupils and their parents. Highlighting the activities of the school year, it is eagerly read by our pastmen who figure prominently in it and are brought up to date on life in Castleknock.
The Academic Life
A highly favourable teacher/pupil ratio of 1:14 enables the College to ensure that each pupil develops to his maximum potential whatever his ability The provision of the most up-to-date computer, general science, physics, chemistry and biology laboratories allows Castleknock to teach science and technical subjects to the maximum effect. The humanities receive similar attention, with particular emphasis on written and oral English in accordance with the Castleknock tradition of fostering communication skills.
The Junior Years
Each boy follows the Junior Certificate Program as laid down by the Department of Education. The examination subjects provided in the College are Irish, English, Mathematics, History, Geography, Science, French, German, Spanish, Music and Art. Religion, Civics, Computing and Physical Education are also important parts of the curriculum.
In addition to the prescribed syllabus for the year, each boy is required to complete a Reading List of English novels, as well as a written project for which prizes are awarded. For each of the three years of the Junior Cycle, there are two formal written examinations. There is also a program of continuous assessment leading to regular reports on each boy. The combination of terminal and continuous assessment enables the College to monitor progress effectively, to reward effort and to take remedial action where deemed necessary.
The Fourth Year boys are under the care and guidance of a team of teachers, directed by the Transition Co-ordinator. All boys follow the College Transition Year Program, which fully meets the criteria of the Department of Education. At its core is a strong emphasis on academic achievement and self-discipline. Generous scope for personality development is provided through regular exposure to a wide range of co-curricular activities. These include a Social Awareness Program, Drama, Debating, Pottery, Music, Carpentry and Sport. Adventure trips are organized, as well as visits to concerts, theatres, museums and art galleries, along with lectures and talks by specialists in the arts.
Of particular importance is the exchange scheme whereby our pupils have the opportunity to spend some time in our twin Colleges in France, Germany and Spain. As well as facilitating the language program, exposure to another culture promotes personality development and formation in the most practical way.
A major focus of Transition year is towards self-directed learning and the building of confidence in achieving academic goals. To this end, each boy is required to complete and present at least two major projects. Initiative is fostered through participation in enterprise education and the Young Entrepreneur awards. In addition, all boys are encouraged and assisted to participate in a Work Experience program.
The Senior Years
Four Form Teachers monitor the work of the senior boys. They work in close co-operation with the parents and are available to meet by appointment. Assessment involves full examinations twice each year, with detailed reports being furnished to parents.
To facilitate student choice, a wide range of subjects is offered at Senior level: Irish, Mathematics, English, French, German, Spanish, Latin, Art, Music, Accounting, Business Organization, Economics, Economic History, History, Geography, Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Applied Mathematics, Technical Graphics and Classical Studies.
In March of Fourth Year, boys are asked to submit their personal choice of seven subjects. These are then processed and two possible choices of subject groupings are offered to the boys for their consideration. After consultation, the grouping most suited to the requirements of that particular year is chosen. By doing so, Castleknock seeks to structure their subject groupings to meet with the boys' wishes, rather than impose a rigid set of subjects on them.
The College places great emphasis on Career Guidance. A comprehensive program supports the students in their studies and guides them towards third-level education. This program is under the direction of our full-time Guidance Counselor.
Each year, younger pastmen conduct a workshop on various career options. This enables the boys to discuss the advantages and disadvantages of a particular career with someone who has recently set out on the career in question.
During Fifth Year, boys may decide to undergo a television interview conducted by a professional who subsequently gives individual feedback. In Sixth Year, boys are asked to submit their CV's and are then interviewed in depth by pastmen on their chosen career.
The School Regime
Classes at Castleknock operate on a six-day week basis. In this way, pupils have the maximum exposure to the College program. There are the usual subject classes on Wednesday and Saturday mornings followed by sporting activities in the afternoon when the boys play against other Colleges.
The school day begins at 8.45am with a 15 minute study/assembly period. Each subject teacher has his/her own class hall and the boys move from teacher to teacher. This has the merit of ensuring that the boys are not confined for too long a period in the one room.
The lunch break is followed by afternoon classes which conclude at 3.30pm. Then follow co-curricular activities including sport, language clubs, debating and music. Teachers and specialist coaches co-ordinate these activities.
The College Library is under the care of a qualified librarian, who ensures that it is well stocked with subject reference books recomended by the teaching staff. As well as a wide variety of fiction and light reading, the library has comprehensive sections on history, biography, travel and careers. Boys wishing to take books from the library can avail of the lending facility.
Serious periodicals, sporting and recreational journals and magazines are also purchased. The daily newspapers are always available.
Opening hours are from 12.30 to 5.30pm. This allows for the maximum use during lunch break and after school hours. During the term, the librarian instructs junior boys on how best to use the library.
Castleknock College offers a full range of music options, both for the gifted and the less skilled enthusiast. Numerous opportunities to make and hear music are provided through the school year. In addition to teaching music as a subject for Leaving Certificate, the College Teachers, with the assistance of part-time staff, offer tuition on all main instruments. The College has practice pianos for use, electronic and digital keyboards and a unique 19th century pipe organ. Lessons are also available on classical and popular guitar, and pitched and unpitched percussion.
The College Concert Band, which undertakes an annual tour as well as giving recitals during the year, offers the opportunity for individuals to excel. Other ensembles include a Junior Band, Recorder Ensembles and Rock Groups, all of which are coached by trained staff. Choral music is strong, with each year group receiving some training in Liturgical music. Selected Cantors act as leaders at special events. From time to time, R.T.E. broadcasts Mass from the College Chapel. During the winter months, Senior boys are encouraged and facilitated in attending the National Concert Hall.
The College has a long tradition in drama, which is a popular activity with the boys throughout the school but especially those in Fourth and Fifth Years. The College is proud of an unbroken record of two major productions each year.
The College Concert hall has a first-rate stage and lighting facilities. The choice of play varies considerably. Plays by Irish authors have always proved popular, especially those with direct relevance to the English Examination syllabus.
Each pupil in the year producing the play is encouraged to become involved, whether in acting, set design and construction, stage management, lighting or sound. The camaraderie and team spirit of all involved are very evident during these productions. Smaller and more informal plays are also presented at class level. Castleknock also takes advantage of our close proximity to Dublin by arranging for our pupils to attend many of the theatrical productions in the city.
Essay and Poetry
To encourage self expression, prizes for essays and original poems are awarded each year. Many are published in the in-house magazines, and those considered to be outstanding are featured in the annual record of College activities, the Castleknock Chronicle.
The Art Department is made available during out-of-school hours so that boys can pursue their interests in painting, pottery and crafts. Students are encouraged to participate in external competitions. Moreover, each boy has the opportunity of displaying his work on Union Day, held on the last Sunday of the school year.
The extensive display of prints that adorn the many corridors in the College is carefully selected to present an overview of art through the centuries. Its purpose is to encourage an appreciation of art enhanced by a knowledge of its history and development. The boys are encouraged to do their own research into the life and works of the different artists on display.
Group visits to the art galleries and exhibitions in the city are organised during the year.
Castleknock has a long and distinguished debating tradition. Many well-known public figures made their inaugural speeches at the Castleknock College Debating Society. Included in the College debating triumphs is a victory in the world renowned Observer Mace. It is our policy to encourage all students to debate at some stage during their time at Castleknock. The three debating societies within the College - Senior, Intermediate and Junior, meet every two weeks and frequently participate in debates with other schools.
In recent years, the College has won both individual an team awards including the All-Ireland Schools Debating Competition as well as the best individual speaker award in Leinster. Members of the Society have also represented Ireland in international competitions.
The Continental Language clubs (French, German and Spanish) have been organised to foster the conversational use of the language in an informal way through quizzes, drama and song. These clubs are particularly popular with Junior boys and enable them to overcome any diffidence they may have in embarking on the use of the language concerned.
To meet the needs of a particular group, boys are encouraged to form their own clubs catering for such interests as orienteering, hiking, chess, stamp collecting, electronics and photography.
The Sporting Life
Played in the proper spirit, sport can be a major influence in character development and personal fulfilment.
Castleknock has a long and proud tradition in schools sport, with College teams and individuals to the fore in winning honours down through the years. Many boys have gone on to perform at higher levels and have represented their country in rugby, golf, tennis, squash, athletics and show jumping.
While promoting the pursuit of excellence at games, the College recreational policy is to encourage as wide a participation as possible. Students are urged to take part in both indoor and outdoor recreations for their own enjoyment. Riding tuition, tennis, golf and rugby coaching are provided during the term.
The extensive grounds and facilities - all located at the College - give ample opportunity for a wide range of sports. Facilities include rugby and soccer pitches, 10 hard-surface tennis courts, an indoor heated swimming pool, a well-equipped gymnasium and a modern sports hall, a multi-purpose gym, a weights room and access to an equestrian centre.
During the winter months, Castleknock fields fifteen rugby teams from the different age groups. The Leinster Senior and Junior Cup competitions are the highlights of the sporting calendar and the College has an impressive record of success in both competitions. College soccer, tennis, basketball, athletics and golf teams also compete successfully in inter-schools competitions.
The Castleknock Family
Each year the College welcomes some 90 new boys into the Castleknock family, giving a total enrolment of approximately 520 students aged 12 to 18, following a six-year cycle.
Pupils at Castleknock are expected to behave in a responsible manner, showing consideration, courtesy and respect at all times. They are encouraged to involve themselves in worthwhile activities designed to develop self-reliance and to promote their personal fulfilment. Recognising its lifelong importance, the value of self-discipline is constantly instilled.
Teachers are required to be aware of the personality and ability of each one of the pupils in their care, to nurture growth in their maturity and self-esteem, and create a climate in which the boy feels secure, confident and accepted. It is in this context that they demand a high level of academic commitment and acceptable social behaviour.
There is a well established Pastoral Care programme in the college. Each junior year is under the supervision of a Form Teacher who is in turn assisted by a class tutor for each class. Borders have the additional support of our resident staff, Assistant Head of Residence and House Masters.
The Pastoral Care team give guidance to the students when needed, and ensure that any difficulties will be sympathetically and professionally handled. They emphasise to the boys the necessity for the sharing with staff and community the responsibility for the discipline and welfare of the entire Castleknock family and a respect for the dignity of each of its members.
The President is responsible for the overall management of the College. It is his duty to ensure the attainment of the objectives and values espoused by the College. He is pleased to personally welcome all new boys and their parents as the first step to ensuring that they become integrated into the Castleknock family as quickly and happily as possible.
The Headmaster is responsible for all the administration of the School proper, and ensures that the religious, educational and traditional ethos of Castleknock is maintained. Drawing on the best of contemporary thinking, his insights, understanding and directives enable the School to attain academic excellence and also to be positioned to meet the challenges of the day. In this work he is assisted by the Vice Principle, Form Teachers, and a 36-strong faculty, providing a 1:14 teacher pupil ratio.
The Head of Residence is responsible for all the residential facilities of the College and co-ordinates the co-curricular activities of the school, while also seeking to create an environment that enables the students to mature as individuals, develop their social skills and take on a leadership role when called upon.
The Head of Residence is supported in this work by the Assistant Head of Residence; House Masters (teachers who reside in the College) and the College Prefects. Through direction and encouragement, the Head of Residence ensures that those working with him discharge their duties in a proper manner, mindful that their role is not only supervisory but also a caring one.
The Assistant Head of Residence and an assigned House Master take particular care of the social behaviour, academic progress and well-being of the junior boarding pupils. They work closely with the Resident Nurse.
The Head of Residence, the Assistant Head of Residence and House Masters live on campus and are facilitated in their care of the boys by their proximity to them.
The College Doctor visits routinely three times weekly and is available on a 24-hour basis. The College infirmary is under the care of a Resident Registered Nurse who looks after the medical and health care of the boys.
The Catering Manager oversees all catering arrangements, including the self-service and communal dining facilities, and is responsible for the quality of the food served to the boys, the Community and Staff.
The College Housekeeper ensures that high standards of hygiene are maintained in all areas of the College.
The College Mass on Sundays is attended by the Community, boys and members of staff who are in residence. Parents and other staff members are always welcome.
An annual Family Mass for each Year is celebrated at which boys of that Year and their families participate together with the Community and teachers.
Weekday Masses at 7.40am and 8.20am are optional. Boys are always encouraged to attend, particularly during the seasons of Advent and Lent. Each Conference of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul selects one day a week when all members participate.
Year and Class Masses, Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, scripture/prayer group meetings are held regularly through the year.
Opportunity to attend the Sacrament of Reconciliation is available during the school week and also after Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament on Saturday nights.
The College chaplain and members of the Vincentian Community are available at all times for guidance and counselling throughout the year.
St. Vincent de Paul Society
In keeping with the Vincentian philosophy of "seeing the person of Christ in every man", the College has always encouraged pupils to become involved in caring for the less-well-off members of society, thus reflecting the truly liberal education they receive in Castleknock.
The Conferences of the Society of Vincent de Paul within the College are very active in caring for old people, the travelling community and the mentally handicapped. The approach is unobtrusive, personal, sensitive and constant.
Parents are only too well aware of how young people are constantly exposed to unsavoury distractions, and to influences that are conducive neither to study nor to the proper development necessary for their future. Those who choose a boarding education at Castleknock can enjoy peace of mind.
The welfare and happiness of our pupils living away from home have always been the priority in Castleknock. While retaining all that is best in its tradition and ethos, the College has adapted to modern lifestyles by installing up-to-date facilities and adopting the kind of regime that is demanded by today's family.
The provision of high-quality food, superior living accommodation and the best possible opportunities in the classroom and in sport are goals that Castleknock has set itself. Over the past decade, more than €2 million has been spent on this programme.
Junior boys sleep 8 to 10 in newly refurbished open plan dormitories, with an adjacent shower and toilet area. These dormitories are located next to the infirmary and away from the rest of the house. This arrangement gives the nursing sister a daily opportunity of monitoring the health and personal hygiene of the younger boys as well as their welfare. At night time the boys are supervised by the assistant Head of Residence and three prefects who are specially chosen for this task. Great care is taken to ensure that the transition from home to boarding school is a happy one for our junior boys.
Intermediate boys reside in larger dormitories, with each having his own cubicle. These pupils are supervised by the Head of Residence, two House Masters and five prefects.
The Senior students reside in self contained study bedrooms. These have proved highly successful in enabling the boys to take greater responsibility for their self-development as well as applying themselves to their studies. In effect they provide a "half-way house" between the structured environment of the College and the freedom of independent living.
Castleknock's Catering Manager is responsible for selecting the menu, supervising the preparation and presentation of the food and ensuring that the dietary requirements of all the boys are catered for. A modern self service system installed in 1992, operates for all meals, giving a choice of varied hot and cold dishes. The Vincentian Community, Staff and boys both day and residential take dinner together. Visitors to the College are always welcome to join us for this meal.
Supervised study for both Junior and Intermediate students takes place in the study hall each evening. A residential Teacher is assigned to monitor the progress of the Junior boys and review their work on a weekly basis. Where further help is required he will refer the matter to the Form Teacher. He reports to the Headmaster on the boys' progress or difficulties on a regular basis.
Senior students are encouraged to be responsible for their own studies. In this age group, self learning and discernment are all important. Boys are expected to set their own study goals and work out how best they can achieve them. In this task they are assisted by the Careers Guidance Counsellor and by participation in a study seminar which is organised for them at the beginning of the year. The student who plans his own work has a stronger sense of purpose, learns how to allocate priorities and make the best use of his study time.
An approach similar to that adopted to study is pursued. Junior boys tend to have most of their recreation organised for them, while the senior boys are encouraged to manage their own time and recreation. House leagues are organised in snooker, table-tennis, basketball, swimming and table quizzes among other activities. Drama, music and debates, both internal and with other schools, take place in the evening.
With the approval of parents, the President grants an exeat to the boys on each Sunday for a specific time. This is intended as a family day and boys should be at home or with a relative. A limited overnight exeat system is also in operation. The College is open 7 days of the week and activities are organised on the Sunday afternoon for those who do not go out.
Union Day is held on the last Sunday of the school year. The finals of the various College tournaments are played during the afternoon. Highlights of the day include a Graduation Mass, the Open Air Benediction, the College Band Recital and the distribution of the College prizes by a distinguished Guest of Honour.
Castleknock recognises that the primary responsibility for the education of children rests with their parents. We seek to co-operate closely with parents and to be as helpful as possible to them in the fulfilment of that responsibility.
When inviting individuals to join the Governing Body, the Very Reverend Provincial of the Vincentians is mindful of the necessity to include a core group of current and former parents among its members.
Each years the President and Head Master consult with a random selection of parents to obtain their views on the College regime. Furthermore they are always happy to meet with parents, by appointment. So too the Form Teachers and Heads of Residence are available by appointment to discuss a boy's progress and any matter of concern, with his parents.
These are arranged for all Years with the dates and times scheduled on the College Calendar at the beginning of the school year. Special arrangements are made for parents of overseas students to meet with teachers when visiting.
To enable parents to integrate into the life of the College varied events are organised throughout the school year. These include:
Both the boys and their teachers prepare a liturgy and look forward to welcoming their parents, brothers, sisters and grandparents to celebrate Mass in the College chapel. This is followed by a short reception.
A parent core group organises a night for all parents of a particular year. A guest speaker is invited to give a talk on some relevant topic. This is followed by a short discussion and a cheese and wine reception.
Another popular social night is the Annual Dinner Dance when Parents, Teachers and friends come together and socialise.
Parents are encouraged to come and support their boys when they are participating in College events such as debating, drama, choral singing, band recital or when representing the College on the sports field. These events are normally followed by an informal reception which provides the opportunity to meet with the College staff.
All involved with Castleknock College, including parents, are expected to subscribe to the College Mission statement and to support our Catholic ethos.
An application form is available on request, along with a copy of the College Prospectus. Boys are placed on our waiting list as soon as the application form is received and the registration fee has been paid. In the year prior to entry, the College will notify parents of all relevant dates e.g. Open Nights, induction weekends, assessment tests.
The College organises a weekend for prospective first year boarding students in the June some 15 months before entry. The purpose of this weekend is to enable the boys to meet one another and to experience boarding school life.
First Year boys: The normal entrance age at Castleknock College is twelve and a half to thirteen years. In the June (boarders only) and November preceding entry, prospective pupils undergo an assessment process. This enables the College to compile a pupil profile for each boy in terms of both potential and performance. The boys are also interviewed by a member of staff to assess the suitability of the boy for Castleknock College and to determine whether education at Castleknock College will benefit him.
The President subsequently meets with the parents to appraise in conjunction with them, their choice of Castleknock College for their boy.
Subject to the College entrance requirements being fulfilled, and a vacancy arising, students are accepted for the different years.
No boy is admitted unless a satisfactory character reference has been received from the Principal of his previous school. This is obtained directly by the College.
The fees are determined each year by the Finance Committee and approved by the Governing Body. The fees and the charges for optional extras are payable half-yearly in September and January.
To assist in the payment of fees, the College has a scheme to enable parents to spread the payments over 10 months from August to May.
For some years past the College has also offered an advanced fee payment scheme which has been taken up by many parents. It enables them to obtain certain benefits where fees have been paid in advance of entry to the College. For further details please contact the College Bursar.
Parents who send their boys to Castleknock College can be assured that they will be received into the Castleknock family in a warm and welcoming manner, in the spirit of our long Vincentian tradition. Each one of our pupils is treated as an individual with his own special disposition, needs and abilities, and every effort made to ensure his happiness and fulfillment.
The College's aim to achieve a high academic standard in its pupils, has been realized to the full as evident by the excellence of our results. Equally, the development of personality and character has always been and remains a matter of paramount importance for the College. Personality and character are recognized as providing the basis for life's achievements and support in its vicissitudes.
Over the years the Castleknock Pastman has been distinguished by his balanced approach to life and his successful adjustment to its demands, challenges and reward.