Clongowes Foundation : Developments since 2004 | Boys School Kildare | Clongowes Wood College

Clongowes Wood College Foundation was founded as a separate charitable trust in 2004. As part of the greater Clongowes body, the Foundation works with and supports the College in its mission to educate pupils according to the best traditions and highest standards of Jesuit schooling, so that they may achieve true fulfilment and serve the world to the best of their ability.

That Clongowes has remained at the forefront of education throughout its two hundred and nine years of existence is due to the vision and investment of past generations. To this end the Foundation should be seen as a continuum of this enduring legacy.


The Castle and Community living quarters are renovated and restored, with the aim of reintegrating the Castle into the general life of the School. The major structural change of this project was the new Serpentine Gallery which links the Castle with the College. The fine presentation showcases on the ground floor enable some of the exhibits from the College archives to be displayed along with the portraits of one hundred and ten Old Clongownians of distinction.

The large glasshouse-style roof provides great light and creates the impression of spaciousness. In November a new floodlit, all-weather sports pitch is opened and dedicated to the memory of Vincent Murray, the much beloved, late assistant headmaster, teacher and senior rugby coach; a man who made a huge contribution to the development of rugby at the College and who left an indelible memory on those boys who were lucky enough to have been taught by him.


The Lower Line Study is renovated. The Lower Line Study sits on the first floor of the first structure to be purpose built in Clongowes, as a Study and Refectory in 1816. The original building was destroyed by fire in 1886 and was replaced immediately, following a fund raising campaign amongst past pupils. The current renovation includes the re-flooring of the study and the installation of new desks, lighting and computer access points.


This year saw the renewal and renovation of the Boys’ Chapel, which was originally built in 1907. New seating, lighting and a new sound system were installed while the interior is repainted, and the masonry is restored.


A key development in the life of Clongowes is the introduction of the Alberto Hurtado Bursary Programme (AHP). The AHP is a bursary scheme inspired by the desire to remove barriers to the unique educational experience that a seven-day boarding school can offer. The objective of the AHP is to offer opportunity to boys who might otherwise not fulfil their potential because of socio-economic disadvantage. Students are chosen on the basis of eligibility and suitability, family ambition and their potential to thrive in a boarding environment. As of the end of the 2018-19 academic year there have been 46 graduates of the programme and there are currently 39 bursary students in the College. A number of classrooms and a lecture room in the 1929 Building are refurbished.


The Poetry Rooms in the 1966 Building are completely renovated; all the windows are replaced and the rooms insulated. The flat roof is replaced with a pitched roof. On the ground floor the old refectory is converted into a study area for the Third Line with the addition of piano practise rooms.


The James Joyce Library was officially opened by Ken Monaghan, a nephew of James Joyce, who attended Clongowes between 1888 and 1891. This library serves as an illustration of how a building and a vision can meaningfully impact on the life of a school. The objective of this great depository of fact and fiction is to convey the power of knowledge and empathy. Under the guidance of the School’s first full-time librarian, the library, on any given day, will host an average of some 80 visitors; its quiet ambiance creating a space for the imagination and for learning. A conservatory, adjoining the library, houses rooms for formal and informal study groups. This library replaced a series of more or less makeshift libraries that have been in place since 1815, when according to the letters of Br. Philip Reilly SJ, ‘the nucleus of a library in the newly-opened college of Clongowes Wood’ arrived following a perilous sea voyage from Palermo.


The Science, Art and Technology Building, opens in time for the commencement of the new academic year, providing the School with a learning resource of third level standard. It comprises three dedicated classrooms and separate laboratories, an adaptable lecture room catering for up to eighty students, a technology/technical graphics room and an art classroom with a pottery area. The facilities are equipped to a very high standard. It has made a significant difference to the way in which science is taught and learned in Clongowes.


The new Sports Hall is completed. Located adjacent to the Vinny Murray all-weather pitch, the hall comprises of a 33m x 29.7m hall, a weights room overlooking the main hall, changing facilities and a viewing area. The size of the hall facilitates large assemblies, examinations and the Sunday liturgy, given that the number of those attending mass now exceeds the capacity of the Boy’s Chapel.


One hundred and thirty-one years after the opening of the old swimming pool, the first of its kind in Ireland, a new 25 metre, five-lane swimming pool comes into service in early November 2017. The pool is formally opened by the Tánaiste, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Simon Coveney (OC ’90), in October 2018. This pool is a wonderful addition to the College and together with the sports hall and the refurbished all-weather rugby pitch it provides a hugely impressive sporting campus. The resurfacing of the Vinny Murray all-weather pitch (VMP) is completed ahead of its official opening in January 2018.


The summer of 2019 saw the completion of a three-year refurbishment programme of the dormitories in the 1929 Building. Largely untouched since the Building became operational in 1932, the dormitories were in need of a significant overhaul. The works started with the replacement of the windows in an environmentally supportive way and then moved on to the renovation of the living space in three phases in a manner that was sympathetic to the boarding character of original Building.


In May The Bellarmine Centre is opened as a learning centre for the Third Line boys. Named after Robert Bellarmine SJ, a Jesuit Saint and a Doctor of the Church, the centre offers space that is flexible so as to accommodate the different learning styles of students. It is located on the site of the former Third Line Study but in contrast to it, the new centre is bright, warm and comfortable. It reflects the best in modern learning practice and will transform the learning experience of future generations of boys in Elements and Rudiments, much in the way the James Joyce Library has done for the wider school body.

Final preparations are made ahead of the proposed launch of the Alberto Hurtado Bursary Endowment Fund (AHEF), in late January 2020.The AHEF is a permanent fund managed by outside advisors with the ultimate objective of fully funding our Bursary programme. The AHEF already has over €5m in donations and pledges. A number of legacies will make a further meaningful contribution towards the target but a shortfall of some €10m remains and the Foundation is committed to raising this sum.

See Foundation 15 year Anniversary Brochure


The refurbishment of the Infirmary including the installation of a lift was completed in Summer 2022.  The Infirmary was built in 1872 and was one of a number of building projects overseen by the then Rector, Fr. Carbery S.J.  The Infirmary is an example of how the foresight of some came to benefit many generations of pupils who followed.  It has served the College well for over 150 years and with this refurbishment it will continue to do so for many years to come.

Infirmary Refurbishment
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