By Cian Molloy - 28 September, 2019
An Irish-language secondary school founded by the Christian Brothers in Dublin half a century ago celebrated its golden jubilee this week with a gala concert at the National Concert Hall.
In addition to including performances by current students, the gala night on Tuesday featured performances by former students who have become renowned musicians, including Liam ó Maonlaoí and Fiachna ó Braonáin of The Hothouse Flowers; Colm, Rossa and Ronán Ó Snodaigh of Kila; the four brothers who comprise Na Casadaigh; and the recently arrived Bonnymen, made up largely of the Casadaigh brothers’ children.
However, the guest star of the night was the Sam Maguire Cup, which was brought along to the event by three former Coláiste Eoin players who are now members of the historic five-in-a-row Dublin senior football team.
The college’s current headmaster, Proinsias de Poire, paid tribute to work of his predecessors, Bros Seán P. Ó Dúgáin and G.D. de Barra and lay headmasters Seán Ó Leidhin and Finín Máirtín, for their role as ceann ródaithe – pioneers – especially the two Christian brothers. All four former headmasters were present at the golden jubilee celebration.
Without their assistance and the backing of their order, the school would not have been established in the grounds of St Helen’s at the top of Booterstown Avenue. Without the school, the Irish-language community in Dublin, especially the southern side of the city, would not be as strong as it is today. Thanks to Coláiste Eoin, and to other Irish language secondary and primary schools in the capital city, Irish remains a language that is still regularly spoken by some in Dublin today.
The school’s founding headmaster, Bro SP Ó Dúgáin, congratulated the school community for keeping the flames of our heritage burning brightly, saying: “Comhgairdeas ó chroí le Coláiste Eoin ags lena phobal uile a choinnigh – agus a choinníonn – tine bheo an dúchais agus a ghnéithesean uile, adhainte lena ndílseacht agus an deá threoir a thugann siad.”
Bro GD de Barra said the school wove together the three strands of faith, culture and learning: creidimh, cultúr agus saíocht.
Since 1975, the college has shared its site with Coláiste Iosagáin, an all-girls, all-Irish language school that was established by the Sisters of Mercy. Today, because of the fall in the number of religious vocations, the boys’ school is under the trusteeship of the Edmund Rice Schools Trust and the girls’ school is part of the Catholic Education in Irish Schools Trust (CEIST).
In addition to being renowned for producing musical talent, Coláiste Eoin and Coláiste Iosagáin, which have more than 400 students each, are among the best performing secondary schools in Ireland in Leaving Certificate results and in students going on to third-level education.
Interestingly, the headmasters of the two schools, Proinsias de Poire at Coláiste Eoin and Seán de Lap at Coláiste Iosagáin were at Coláiste Eoin together in the 1980s and the two describe each other as “buancáirde”. This year, Mr de Lap became the first male headmaster of the girls’ school.
The night’s entertainment finished with a spirited rendition of the anthem “Mo Ghile Mear” by all the musicians on stage and the assembled audience. In a break with tradition at the Coláiste lán-Gaeilge and lán-Gaelach, there was no singing of the national anthem at the close of the proceedings.