The History of Clongowes Wood College

Clongowes Wood College has a long and rich history since its inception in 1814 with the establishment of Ireland’s first Jesuit school and indeed preceding that it was in 1450 that the first castle was built on the lands.

This material here is largely taken from A Short History of Clongowes Wood College, which was privately published in 2011 by Mr Brendan Cullen, a local historian and formerly teacher of history in Clongowes (1971-2007). It is reproduced here by kind permission of the author.

Irish Jesuit History

Irish Jesuit History

From the beginning the Jesuits put themselves at the service of the Pope to go wherever he might want to send them. In the century of the Protestant Reformation this inevitably brought them to work in countries ruled by Protestant governments. Many were arrested and executed and Blessed Dominic Collins, a Jesuit brother was martyred in Youghal in 1601.

Everywhere the Jesuits went they set up schools. In the 17th and 18th centuries they became known as the “Educators of Europe”. In Ireland at this time they were obliged to live very much in the background, operating schools in side streets and remote country areas. With the end of the Penal Laws they entered openly into the area of secondary education.

When Father Peter Kenney SJ, led the Jesuits back to Ireland in 1814 after the Suppression of the Society (1773 – 1814) his first action was to open a new school at Clongowes Wood. Later, with the success of their college on St. Stephen’s Green in Dublin, the Jesuits helped to establish the National University of Ireland. In the 19th century and the early part of the 20th century the Order was associated with training Catholics to take on a leadership role in the emerging independent Ireland.

The Perspective of the Poor

Our schooling wishes our pupils to be men and women for others who make all the significant decisions “from the perspective of the poor.” The Church is the instrument of Christ’s grace and salvation through his Sacraments. Jesuit Education then, prepares students for active participation in the Church and the local community for the service of others.

Repeatedly Ignatius insisted on the Magis – the more. His constant concern was for the greater service of God through a close following of Christ. Jesuit Education pursues excellence in its work of formation and education. The highest standards in all things are to be our unceasing aspiration.

Ignatius formed a group of companions who with him gave themselves in service to Christ’s Kingdom. A group of friends in the Lord can together be fruitful and life giving.

Jesuit education relies on a spirit of co-operation, friendship and community among teaching staff, administrators, Jesuit community, governing and managerial bodies, parents, students, past pupils and benefactors. In the service of the Kingdom, team approaches are preferable to individual endeavours.

For Ignatius and his companions the practice of evaluating work and reviewing its “fruit” was very important, as a way of seeing whether efforts were still in accord with God’s will and destiny. In light of this, Jesuit education reviews itself and adapts means and methods to more effectively achieve its purposes and seek to promote a system of schools with common aspirations.

The Castle

In 1171 Strongbow granted most of North Kildare to his friend and companion Adam de Hereford. However, in 1317 the de Hereford lands reverted to the Crown and were granted to Sir John Wogan of Rathcoffey, then Lord Deputy of Ireland, by Edward II. The name Clongowes Wood comes from the hybrid Latin/Irish: silva, wood; cluain, meadow; gobha, smith; i.e. the wood of the meadow of the smith.

From the Wogans the Clongowes land passed to the Eustace family who built a castle there in 1450. Originally this was a Pale castle built to protect the English frontier from incursions by the Irish clans in search of cattle and plunder. The Pale was first proposed in 1435 as a result of a report to the English king that it was only in the area around Dublin, ‘that a man might safely go to answer the king’s writ and to do his commandments.’

The actual Pale rampart was to consist of a bank, six feet high surrounded by a double ditch. The top of the bank was to be flat and wide enough to serve as a footpath, a bridle path or even a road in some places. There are two well-preserved stretches of the Pale boundary on Clongowes land. The first section begins at the east gate of the present farmyard and runs for nearly 500 yards to the lane at Rathcoffey. The second and best known section, between Clongowes and Capdoo Commons, starts in the grounds of the College just south west of the castle and runs for over half a mile from north-west to south-east towards the Gollymochy river, perhaps intending to make the river part of the defence.

As a result of the Eustace involvement in the 1641 Rising the Cromwellian General Monck attacked and blew up the castle at Clongowes, and their lands were forfeited. In July 1667 the property was granted to Richard Reynall, who promptly sold the castle and 1000 acres to Thomas Browne, a Dublin barrister, for £2,100. The Brownes and their near neighbours, the Wogans of Rathcoffey, were Catholics and the two families intermarried – hence the family name Wogan Browne. It was Browne who changed the name to Castle Browne, by which it was known until 1814, when it was changed back to Clongowes by the Jesuits.

In 1718 Stephen Fitzwilliam Browne rebuilt the castle completing the western façade (front) just as it is today, comprising the central keep and the two square towers. In 1788 Thomas Wogan Browne extended and decorated the castle. The extension consists of the eastern façade and two round towers at the back of the castle all built in the Georgian style. Both building phases are recorded in the Latin inscription incised on the lintel over the hall-door of the castle beneath the Wogan Browne Coat of Arms.

Thomas Wogan Browne died in 1812 and his younger brother, General Michael Wogan Browne, who was helping Napoleon at the siege of Moscow, inherited the property. When he returned to Ireland on hearing of his brother’s death, he found the estate heavily in debt and sold the castle and 219 acres to Fr Peter Kenney SJ in March 1814 for £16,000.

This material is largely taken from A Short History of Clongowes Wood College, which was privately published in 2011 by Mr Brendan Cullen, a local historian and formerly teacher of history in Clongowes (1971-2007). It is reproduced here by kind permission of the author.

The Early Years

On May 18th 1814 the first pupil, James McLorinan of Dublin was admitted to the school. His parents were drapers and belonged to the evolving prosperous class of Catholics who were willing to take advantage of the classical education, which Fr Kenney proposed to offer. The annual fee was 50 guineas, and the boys spent 11 months in the school with the annual holidays confined to the month of August.

Students were accepted from the age of seven. In winter they rose at 6am and retired at 8.45pm each day. In summer they rose at 5am and retired also at 8.45pm. The school uniform consisted of a cap made from rabbit skin, a blue blazer with brass buttons, a yellow cashmere waistcoat and corduroy trousers.

The first three Rectors were Fr Peter Kenney (1814-1817), Fr Charles Aylmer (1817-1820) and Fr Bartholomew Esmonde (1820-1821). Fr Kenney came back in 1821 and remained until 1830 when Fr Esmonde returned. In 1814 all three were young men. Fr Kenney was only thirty five while Frs Aylmer and Esmonde were both in their twenties. The fact that a large number of wealthy, sophisticated, middle-class parents of the period were willing to entrust the welfare of their sons to such young and inexperienced men for eleven months of the year, is ample testimony to the esteem and respect they had for the Jesuit system of education.

The reputation of the College spread rapidly and by 1815 there were 110 pupils enrolled. This figure rose alarmingly in 1816 to 201. It is difficult to ascertain where such a large number were accommodated. Various suggestions include the castle itself and in the castle yard where the Wogan Brownes’ stables, outhouses and offices were located. One thing was certain; the school was overcrowded and that overcrowding combined with a poor quality water supply led to a major outbreak of typhus in the College in 1819. Fr Aylmer, reacting to medical advice and to the concerns of the parents, closed the school and sent the students home for six months.

This hiatus enabled him to embark on an extensive building programme, which was to transform the College campus dramatically. 1819-1820 saw the construction of the Lower Line Building (now the Concourse) and the Higher Line Gallery (now the 1966 Building). The Higher Line Building was famous for its long gallery. Lewis, in his Topographical Dictionary of Ireland (1837), states that the corridor was, ‘more than 300 feet long’. This period also saw the construction of a shorter gallery parallel to the Lower Line Building. This is now the People’s Church.

Despite all the building, when the students returned in September 1819 the numbers had dropped significantly to somewhat over 100. The figure of 200 was not reached again until 1886 with the amalgamation of Tullabeg and Clongowes. Fr Kenney returned as Rector in 1821. He realised with just over 100 students in the school that he wouldn’t require the two-storey building that ran parallel to the Lower Line Building and which consisted of classrooms and dormitories. In August 1822 he converted it into a chapel for the boys and it became the People’s Church in 1907.

This material is largely taken from A Short History of Clongowes Wood College, which was privately published in 2011 by Mr Brendan Cullen, a local historian and formerly teacher of history in Clongowes (1971-2007). It is reproduced here by kind permission of the author.

The People's Church

The People’s Church at Clongowes Wood College was constructed between 1819 and 1821 and the first Mass was celebrated there on the Feast of All Saints in 1822. It was originally a two-storey building and consisted of a large classroom on the ground floor with a dormitory overhead. In 1819, following a serious outbreak of typhus in the College, Fr Aylmer sent the boys home for six months until September. In the interim he proceeded to build the Lower Line Gallery, the Higher Line Gallery and a shorter gallery, which is now the People’s Church. The first Mass was celebrated here on the 1st November 1822, The Feast of All Saints.

It was the Boys’ Chapel until 1907 when the present Boys’ Chapel was built. Since 1907 it has been known as the People’s Church and serves the local people of the surrounding area and is much loved by them. The tradition of people from the locality attending Sunday Mass in the People’s Church was well established in James Joyce’s time at Clongowes (1888-1891), as is evidenced by the following passage from A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man when Joyce, in the person of Stephen Dedalus, described attending night prayer in the chapel:

The bell rang for night prayers and he filed out of the study hall after the others and down the staircase and along the corridors to the chapel. The corridors were darkly lit and the chapel was darkly lit. Soon all would be dark and sleeping. There was cold night air in the chapel and the marbles were the colour the sea was at night.’

There was a cold night smell in the chapel. But it was a holy smell. It was not the smell of the old peasants who knelt at the back of the chapel at Sunday Mass. That was a smell of air and rain and turf and corduroy. But they were very holy peasants. They breathed behind him on his neck and sighed as they prayed. They lived in Clane, a fellow said: there were little cottages there and he had seen a woman standing at the half door of a cottage with a child in her arms, as the cars had come past from Sallins.’

Fr John Sullivan

The name of the saintly Fr John Sullivan will always be synonymous with the People’s Church, where he ministered for many years. Fr John lived an austere and frugal life in Clongowes and was renowned for his asceticism throughout the surrounding countryside. He was always available to the needy, the poor and the infirm of the locality and people came from far and wide to seek his blessing and his prayers. To this day his memory is held in great reverence in the locality and many visit the People’s Church to pray to him.

This material is largely taken from A Short History of Clongowes Wood College, which was privately published in 2011 by Mr Brendan Cullen, a local historian and formerly teacher of history in Clongowes (1971-2007). It is reproduced here by kind permission of the author.

Daniel O'Connell

While he did not attend Clongowes, Daniel O’Connell played a prominent role in the early life of the College. He advised Fr Kenney on the purchase of the castle and was also a constant visitor to the school from the time of its foundation. In a letter dated 6th January 1831, John O’Connell wrote to his young brother Danny, ‘Mama wishes you to tell Rev. Fr Esmonde that my father will be down to dinner on Saturday and remain till Monday if allowed.’ O’Connell loved Clongowes, and after his wife Mary died he wrote of his desire to leave politics, ‘and going if I am received to Clongowes … to spend the rest of my life there.’

He sent his four sons to Clongowes: Maurice and Morgan (1815); John (1823) and Danny (1830). As a parent O’Connell’s expectations for his sons’ education can best be gauged from a letter he wrote to Fr Kenney from his home in Dublin in 1815. In it he says he was interested in ‘the acquisition of much classical learning’ for his sons, and also states, ‘a solid formation in the classics especially Greek, being in my opinion of great value to real education.’ O’Connell was anxious that his sons would receive a classical education in the European Jesuit tradition. The rest of the parents expected no less.

Mary O’Connell (Daniel’s Wife)

We are fortunate in having a series of letters written by Mary O’Connell to her youngest son Danny when he was a student in the College in the early 1830’s. Like all mothers of sons living away from home she expressed an interest in all his school activities; in his religious formation, in his academic progress and in a special way in his health and general welfare. She frequently encouraged him to attend Mass, she corrected his spellings in his letters to her and she constantly berated him regarding his poor personal appearance and his lack of acceptable personal hygiene. She was also concerned that he was well fed and many of her letters refer to the tuck she sent to him to supplement his school diet.

Like most mothers Mary focused on his lack of personal cleanliness. On one occasion she wrote, ‘your father told me your hair and your hands were filthy both days. Did you not my child promise me you would be particular in keeping your head combed and your person clean? But when you neglected to do so on those two days your neglect on other days must be dreadful.’

However, despite Danny’s difficulties we are left in no doubt what Mary thought of Clongowes. In another letter she informed him that, ‘Morgan John left his brother Maurice at Exeter School in Co. Carlow. Phrey Mynahan is away to leave his brother at Carlow College. What fools they are not to leave their brothers at your College, the only real good Catholic school in Ireland.’

This material is largely taken from A Short History of Clongowes Wood College, which was privately published in 2011 by Mr Brendan Cullen, a locah historian and formerly teacher of history in Clongowes (1971-2007). It is reproduced here by kind permission of the author.

Gravel Football

Although the name of Clongowes Wood College is synonymous with the game of Rugby, it was not always so, as is evidenced by the following passage from A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man in which Joyce, in the person of Stephen Dedalus, describes a football game in which Stephen Dedalus takes part:

The wide playgrounds were swarming with boys. All were shouting and the prefects urged them on with strong cries. The evening air was pale and chilly and after every charge and thud of the footballers the greasy leather orb flew like a heavy bird through the grey light … He was caught in the whirl of a scrimmage and, fearful of the flashing eyes and muddy boots, bent down to look through the legs. The fellows were struggling and groaning and their legs were rubbing and kicking and stamping. Then Jack Lawton’s yellow boots dodged out the ball and all the other boots and legs ran after.’

Contrary to common belief the football game played here is not Rugby, but ‘Gravel’ football, which was organised long before any other game in Clongowes and seems to have been introduced from the Jesuit College at Stonyhurst, England soon after Clongowes was founded in 1814. It was the dominant game at Clongowes for most of the 19th century and unique to the school. By all accounts it was a very skilful game, especially the art of ‘forcing’ which was essentially dribbling the ball through the opposition. Players could not catch the ball but they could punch it with a clenched fist.

‘Gravel’ was played during the winter months by every boy in the Line, so teams could be 30 or 40 aside. The ball was ‘inert’ and weighed 25 ounces. Because it lost its shape easily, several had to be used in each game. In wet weather the ball became soggy, heavy and encrusted with sand, making it difficult to control.

The goals consisted of tall uprights, placed about eight feet apart with no crossbar. The only score was a goal, when the ball passed between the uprights. There were only two groups on a team: the ‘goal-minds’ and the rest of the team. A semicircle with a radius of twelve yards was drawn in front of the goals. One of the ‘goal minds’ guarded the circle and another stood between the posts.

The staging of a ‘Colours’ match on St Patrick’s Day marked the end of the ‘Gravel’ season. The teams attached a red or green flag to the uprights at the start of the game. Every time a goal was scored the defenders’ ‘colours’ were lowered a little and the match was over when one flag reached the ground. The winners were awarded extra pancakes at dinner.

In the late 1880’s Association Football and later Rugby were introduced and gradually replaced ‘Gravel’ which was phased out around 1912.

This material is largely taken from A Short History of Clongowes Wood College, which was privately published in 2011 by Mr Brendan Cullen, a local historian and formerly teacher of history in Clongowes (1971-2007). It is reproduced here by kind permission of the author.

The Carbery Building

The second major building project of the 19th century occurred in the early 1870s and was implemented by Fr Carbery who was appointed Rector in 1870. 1872 saw the construction of the Infirmary, which is a tall freestanding limestone building with large windows to ensure adequate ventilation. It also contained a unique feature in that the top storey could be turned into an isolation ward to be used to contain contagious diseases.

In 1874 Fr Carbery built the Third Line Building for younger students. Still called ‘The Carbery Building’ by some it is a large three-storey structure with high ceilings and three rows of very large windows. The ground floor then consisted of a study hall, a recreation area and a toilet block, while dormitories occupied the second and third storeys. The ground floor now houses classrooms and until recently the first floor was home to the Computer Room (now in the old Boot Room).

This material is largely taken from A Short History of Clongowes Wood College, which was privately published in 2011 by Mr Brendan Cullen, a local historian and formerly teacher of history in Clongowes (1971-2007). It is reproduced here by kind permission of the author.

The Study Hall

The original Study Hall/Refectory block was built between 1818 and 1820 during the Rectorship of Fr Charles Aylmer, whose family lived nearby at Painstown House. The study hall formed the top storey of a large two-storey building, the ground floor being occupied by the refectory. It was a large, spacious, airy building capable of housing the whole school, with excellent lighting provided by a double range of large windows on the north and south walls, and two large ornate windows in the eastern façade.

Students spent 3 hours 15 minutes per day in the study hall as follows: 7.15am to 8.30am; 12.45pm to 1.15pm and 5.45pm to 7.15pm. All students were encouraged to do voluntary study outside of these times. The principal form of lighting at night in the study hall was probably candlelight. Later some form of oil lamp may have supplemented or even replaced the weaker candlelight. Gas was introduced into the College in 1861 and because of the better quality of the gaslight; study time was extended later into the evening. Gaslight illuminated the school until 1929 when electricity was introduced.

In April 1886 the study hall and refectory underneath were both destroyed by fire. Only the walls were left standing. However, the refectory was cleared of tables, chairs and delph, which were safely removed to the Lower Line Gallery. Soon the ceiling of the study hall collapsed sending burning debris and a large iron girder from the roof through the study hall floor into the refectory below but, luckily, no one was injured. St Patrick’s College, Maynooth sent their fire engine, but it arrived too late to save the building. The Lower Line Gallery was quickly converted into a refectory and several classrooms served as study halls. Among the valuable items lost in the fire were the minutes of the Higher Line Debating Society, which were kept in the rostrum in the study hall.

Both the study hall and the refectory were rebuilt in 1887. In the ‘new’ study hall the two windows in the eastern wall were replaced by a very large single window decorated by stained glass panels. While the study hall is still in use, the refectory remained in use only until 1966 when it was converted into a theatre. It is now the James Joyce Library. Fittingly the Clongowes refectory has been immortalized in Joyce’s, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, when Stephen Dedalus describes a visit to the refectory sometime during the period 1888-91:

He sat looking at the two prints of butter on his plate but could not eat the damp bread. The tablecloth was damp and limp. But he drank of the hot weak tea, which the clumsy scullion, girt with a white apron, poured, into his cup. He wondered whether the scullion’s apron was damp too or whether all white things were cold and damp. Nasty Roche and Saurin drank cocoa that their people sent them in tins. They said they could not drink the tea, that it was hogwash.’

This material is largely taken from A Short History of Clongowes Wood College, which was privately published in 2011 by Mr Brendan Cullen, a local historian and formerly teacher of history in Clongowes (1971-2007). It is reproduced here by kind permission of the author.

Tullabeg

The most traumatic event in the early history of the school occurred in September 1886, when the Jesuit Boarding School at Tullabeg (near Tullamore) was amalgamated with Clongowes. Tullabeg, founded in 1818, achieved a very high academic reputation but because of debt and lack of personnel it was decided to close it in 1886 and amalgamate it with Clongowes. When Clongowes broke up for the summer holidays there were about 140 boys in the school. In September, after the holidays, this had increased to nearly 250. This was the first time since the typhus outbreak in 1819 that the College had over 200 students.

Amalgamating the examination-driven curriculum of Tullabeg with the old liberal classical education provided by Clongowes had its difficulties for both staff and pupils. However, due to the wisdom and expertise of a vigilant and caring staff all differences were resolved and any tension, which accompanied the merger, soon disappeared.

Post Amalgamation

To improve the ‘new’ Clongowes performances in the recently introduced Intermediate Examinations Fr James Daly was appointed Prefect of Studies in 1887. The Intermediate system was basically a system of payment to schools by results. To all intents and purposes it was a ‘league table’ system of education and was the Government’s way of providing funds to Catholic schools. Fr Daly embraced and worked the system to perfection and Clongowes became outstandingly successful, producing some of the best examination results in Ireland for many years. But this success was achieved at great cost.

Fr Daly’s regime was a very harsh one with an over-emphasis on discipline, driven by a liberal use of the pandybat (a leather strap used for corporal punishment). This austerity is graphically illustrated by James Joyce in A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man where Fr Daly appears under the pseudonym, Fr Dolan and punishes Stephen unfairly.

This material is largely taken from A Short History of Clongowes Wood College, which was privately published in 2011 by Mr Brendan Cullen, a local historian and formerly teacher of history in Clongowes (1971-2007). It is reproduced here by kind permission of the author.

Boy's Chapel

The Boys’ Chapel at Clongowes Wood College was designed by Messrs. Ashlin and Coleman, Architects, Dublin and built by William Connolly and Son, Dublin in 1907. The foundation stone was from Mount Charles quarries, Co. Donegal. Inserted in it was a large glass vessel, which contained several relics, some 1907 coins, copies of the national and local newspapers of the day and an engrossed parchment.

The original intention was to build the chapel of granite but because of the cost involved this plan was abandoned. Instead all the walls were faced on the outside with hollow concrete blocks ‘manufactured’ on site by mixing local sand and gravel with cement. Apart from reducing the cost of the building, the cement blocks also reduced the risk of dampness, and shortened the construction time by over six months.

Externally, the Boys’ Chapel is a very imposing building. Its four turrets, its battlemented parapets and its dark-coloured stonework blend in admirably with the castle and surrounding College structures. Internally, the chapel is also very impressive, comprising a nave, a semi octagonal apse, a sacristy and a small Ignatian Chapel (formerly the Prefects’ Chapel), to the left of the High Altar.

Stained Glass Windows

The Stations of the Cross were painted specially for Clongowes by the distinguished Irish artist Sean Keating, while the splendid stained glass windows are by Irish artists Michael Healy and Evie Hone. There are two other Evie Hone windows in the Ignatian Chapel along with the head of St Peter Claver by George Walsh.

The beautiful High Altar made from Carrara marble was presented to Clongowes by Chief Baron Christopher Palles who was a pupil in the College between 1843 and 1847 and the first President of the Clongowes Union. There are also two small side altars in the sanctuary – the Sacred Heart (left) and Our Lady’s altar and statue (right). Both are beautifully executed in white marble and both have been donated by past pupils.

The organ was built by Evans and Barr of Belfast in 1913/1914. It was rebuilt by Peter Conacher and Co. of Huddersfield in 1959 and enlarged from 23 stops to 37. In 1969 it was cleaned by The Irish Organ Co. of Antrim. 1987 saw a complete overhaul of the organ, with minor tonal changes, by Derek Verso and Co. Dublin.

The Boys’ Chapel is one of the largest and most attractive chapels attached to an Irish boarding school and has been at the centre of religious worship in the College for over a century. Its august dignity and austere splendour are a fitting memorial to all those people who contributed to its construction, and also to the generations of students who worshipped in front of its magnificent High Altar over the years.

This material is largely taken from A Short History of Clongowes Wood College, which was privately published in 2011 by Mr Brendan Cullen, a local historian and formerly teacher of history in Clongowes (1971-2007). It is reproduced here by kind permission of the author.

Clongowes at War

Old Clongownians responded to the urging of John Redmond and played a prominent role in the Irish contribution to the Allied effort in World War I. Over 600 past pupils participated in the War and 95 lost their lives – their names appear on a brass plaque on the wall outside the Boys’ Chapel. Among them was Thomas Kettle who was a student in the College between 1894 and 1897, and was killed at Ginchy on the Western Front on September 9th 1916.

Since the inception of the Victoria Cross in 1856 Old Clongownians were recipients of this prestigious award on four occasions: Captain Thomas Esmonde from the Crimean War; Thomas Crean from the Boer War; John Vincent Holland from the First World War and Lieut. Commander Eugene Esmonde, who was posthumously, awarded the V.C. for heroism in the Battle of Dover Strait in 1942.

This material is largely taken from A Short History of Clongowes Wood College, which was privately published in 2011 by Mr Brendan Cullen, a local historian and formerly teacher of history in Clongowes (1971-2007). It is reproduced here by kind permission of the author.

1929 Building

The main classroom and dormitory block in Clongowes is commonly known as the ‘1929 Building’, although it was not completed and opened until 1932, the year of the Eucharistic Congress in Dublin. This project was one of enormous magnitude, eagerly anticipated not only by staff and pupils of the College but also by many locals who looked forward to several years of full employment during the bulk of the Great Depression (1929-33).

The new building formed a quadrangle with the Carbery Building and the Study Hall complex, and was intended to provide up-to-date facilities and extended living space for 325 pupils. It was built of local limestone from Dunne’s quarry at Moatfield, not far from the College. It was a labour-intensive undertaking: in the absence of modern machinery like JCBs the foundations were dug by pick and shovel; the limestone was quarried manually and transported by horse and cart to the College; the stones were dressed by hammer and chisel on site and were placed in position by hand.

The door and window dressings were made from reconstructed granite. Granite from the Ballyknockan quarry was crushed into fine sand and this was mixed with cement and put into moulds on site. The stonemasons were from Ballyknockan, Co. Wicklow and because there were no motorcars at the time they stayed locally in ‘digs’ and drank in the local pubs in Clane and in the Royal Oak. Those who lodged in Capdoo and Castlebrowne used to walk along the Pale rampart to work. Some of the workers from outside the locality were accommodated in wooden huts erected especially for them near the Red House by the contractor Macken Brothers of Dublin.

The New Building was a huge structure measuring over 250 feet along its eastern façade and consisted of three storeys of classrooms and dormitories. The dormitory accommodation was sheer luxury compared to the 1874 Carbery Building. The dormitories are 30 feet wide, well ventilated and centrally heated. All the floors are made of concrete, overlaid with parquet flooring made from teak. The dormitories are divided into wooden cubicles affording a large degree of privacy to every student. Each cubicle is a spacious 10’ x 6’ with its own window, a wash- hand basin with hot and cold water, a bed and a large wardrobe.

By the time the 1929 Building was completed the College was able to take advantage of electricity generated by the new power station at Ardnacrusha.

This material is largely taken from A Short History of Clongowes Wood College, which was privately published in 2011 by Mr Brendan Cullen, a local historian and formerly teacher of history in Clongowes (1971-2007). It is reproduced here by kind permission of the author.

Modern Times

The latter half of the 20th century witnessed the completion of three major building schemes, which have resulted in the upgrading of facilities in line with modern educational practice. In 1964 the old Higher Line Building was demolished and was replaced by the 1966 Buildingwhich contained a new departure for Clongowes as each Rhetoric (6th year) student had his own study/bedroom, providing him with a degree of privacy and comfort unheard of before. This block is now occupied by Poetry (5th year) students.

The old Lower Line Building (3rd and 4th year students) was the next to vanish to accommodate the construction of the 1976 Building, which contains a large and airy central concourse. This is ideal for large gatherings like Morning Prayer, and also provides a type of crossroads at the centre of the school.

The last major study/bedroom block to be built is the magnificent 1999 Building which houses Rhetoric, and is designed around small units with a definite emphasis on living and learning.

The most recent addition to the College campus is the new Science, Arts and Technology Building, which is located near the Infirmary. Possessing such superb educational facilities the College can look forward to the future with confidence and optimism, and to continuing the Jesuit tradition of educating its students to be ‘people who are authentically Christian and able and willing to work for the good of others.’ (Vision Document, 1984).

This material is largely taken from A Short History of Clongowes Wood College, which was privately published in 2011 by Mr Brendan Cullen, a local historian and formerly teacher of history in Clongowes (1971-2007). It is reproduced here by kind permission of the author.

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