Clongowes Foundation - Developments Autumn 2022 | Clongowes Wood College

Posted: 18th October 2022


Foundation Autumn Update 2022

In a wonderful development for the Jesuit Order and for Clongowes, one of the early Alberto Hurtado Bursary graduates, Seán McMahon (OC’16), entered the Jesuit noviciate in Innsbruck this September.  Shadowing the life of Fr Cyril Power S.J. (OC 1907)[1], Seán studied Theoretical Physics in Cambridge after leaving Clongowes.  While at Cambridge he gained his full blue in Rugby, playing in two Varsity matches.  While studying he took time out to help the Foundation launch the Alberto Hurtado Endowment Fund.  He went on to work for several years in London before making his pivotal decision.  Of course, were he to fully follow in the footsteps of Fr Power S.J., Seán would find himself teaching maths in Clongowes in the 2080s!  Seán has kindly agreed to share his reflections on his Clongowes education with us and so again the Foundation would like to thank him for his continued support.

“There are many ways in which one can describe a Clongowes education. The most-oft cited is the formation of ‘men for others.’ Indeed, it was with this call that Fr. Moloney SJ welcomed my cohort in 2010 accompanied by our parents: ‘Give us the boy, and we will give you the man.’ Well-roundedness, striving for excellence and putting God and others first were all hallmarks of this mission, driven by Clongowes’ Jesuit ethos.

Throughout my six years, I had a plethora of opportunities across academics, rugby, music and other co-curriculars to develop skills and cultivate interests in diverse areas. Combined with this were milestones like the Duck Push and Kairos retreat, opportunities to grow in oneself as well as to give back in some way. Across all of these, I am grateful to this day for the friendships I formed in my own year group which have stuck with me to this day.

As the Leaving Certificate approached and thoughts began to turn to what lay beyond, my time at Clongowes encouraged me to aim high and gave me the skills and confidence needed to thrive beyond its walls. Thanks to the excellent standard of teaching, as well as invaluable career guidance, I was offered a place to study Science at the University of Cambridge. Having earned both a degree and a Masters there, I left for London where I currently live and work. I am as sure now as I was when I was first offered my place in Cambridge that without Clongowes, I doubt I would have ever entertained pursuing these goals let alone being able to achieve them.

Clongowes has played a crucial role in influencing both my personal growth, as well as affording me opportunities in life I would not have had elsewhere. As already mentioned, one of Clongowes’ major strengths lies in its ethos, which is unequivocally Jesuit. I found as I matured in years, I was blessed to find my faith did also. The move from the Boys Chapel into the Sports Hall for Sunday Mass was taken as an opportunity to revamp the liturgy, spearheaded by Cyril Murphy (OC ’80), and Niall Leahy SJ, and I was grateful to take on the new role of MC.  Little did I realise fully at the time, serving in this role sowed the first seeds of my own vocation which I continued to discern throughout my time at university and beyond.  In the next few weeks, I look forward to entering the Society of Jesus as a novice.

Looking back on my time in Clongowes, though I may have not realised it then in the hustle and bustle of daily student life, each day was gradually preparing me for the world outside Clongowes and influencing the man I was to be. Without doubt, my acceptance onto the Alberto Hurtado Programme has afforded me opportunities that I could never have imagined growing up in my home town and has shaped my personal growth as well as my direction in life. Even now as I prepare to enter the Jesuit novitiate, I agree with the old sentiment that one should not look too far forward, without first taking a fond look back. Clongowes will forever be a major turning point in my life and for that, I shall always be grateful.”

In another development of note, Fiachra Lambe (OC ’22), together with James Aiken (OC ’17) launched a very successful fundraising campaign for UCD’s “James Lambe Memorial Scholarship”.  James (OC ‘17), Fiachra’s older brother, came to Clongowes as a bursary student and his energy and enthusiasm left a deep impression on all those who came to know him.  Prior to his death on 17th May 2021, James had requested that his funeral mass should take place in the Boys’ Chapel.  Shortly after his death, UCD created a memorial scholarship in James’s name.  In honouring his legacy, the UCD Scholarship Foundation decided that the scholarship would be awarded to someone who, like James, faced into university with a long term/ chronic illness and who needed financial help as they likely would carry the additional burden of medical expenses.  All that was needed was the funding and so his brother and classmate launched their efficient campaign.  The way James battled against the most adverse of circumstances was a powerful testament to his character as indeed was the response of his younger brother.

The Alberto Hurtado Bursary Endowment Fund

The rebalancing of monetary policy away from the economic impact of Covid-19 and towards the containment of inflation has had a negative impact on the value of the Endowment Fund.  As of the end of August this year the Fund stood at some € 6.6m.  As we had mentioned in prior Letters the Fund will not be called upon to contribute to the funding of the AHP for another three years and so this current repricing of financial assets can be seen as an opportunity to commit funds at attractive valuations.  Indeed, a small number of past pupils have generously indicated their intent to donate to the Fund and we hope to commit these funds collectively before year end.  For those who would like to join them please feel free to contact any of us here at the Foundation.

The Performing Arts and Music Centre

At present plans for a Performing Arts and Music Centre are with the architects and no final decision has been made as to the precise structure and placement of this much needed facility.  As we mentioned in our prior letter, some founder donors had indicated a level of interest that allowed the concept to move forward.  Since then, the Headmaster’s Office, supported by the Foundation, have spoken with a small number of key donors all of whom have expressed a willingness to support this project.  As with the recent works on the infirmary, the Arts and Music Centre will be built in a way that improves physical access within the College.  Hopefully, our next Letter will coincide with the formal launch of this development.

On behalf of the greater Clongowes family, Antoinette, Emma and I would like to thank you all for your continued support of our School.

One does not replace the past, one only adds a new link.”   Cézanne

Joe Rooney (OC ’79)

Chair of Fundraising

[1] There is a wonderful photo in the Castle of the physicists working at Cambridge University’s Cavendish Laboratory in August 1920.  Taking his position amongst historical greats such as Prof. Chadwick and Ernest Rutherford is Fr C. Power S.J.  The script underneath describes the former as being famous for his discovery of the neutron while Rutherford discovered the alpha particle and was famous for his experiments on the same; while In true Jesuit understatement the same script says that Cyril Power “taught maths in C.W.C and managed the farm.”

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