School History

Extracts from the Parish Booklet published for the 25th Anniversary in 1982


Throughout the past 25 years there has been a very close relationship between the Church of the Good Shepherd and the De La Salle College and Schools in Churchtown. They grew up together. In 1978 the De La Salle Brothers of Churchtown celebrated their Silver Jubilee and this year it is the turn of the Priests of The Good Shepherd.

When the Brothers first came to Churchtown they were only three in number and their present residence at Berwick House had been a traveller’s rest with bed, breakfast and stabling facilities. It was later bought by Lady Berwick who turned it into a holiday house for working girls. Eventually the Brothers bought the property and it was from this base that they initiated a three-pronged educational attack on that little area which lies between Rathfarnham and Dundrum.

It is no coincidence that to-day there exist a close relationship between the De La Salle Brothers and the Priests of the Good Shepherd; The College is built on what was once to have been the site of the new Church for Churchtown. The Land called Landscape Manor was once owned by a Mr. Ashby who was not prepared to sell the Land at that time, so an alternative (the Present) site had to be found. Later the Brothers succeeded in purchasing this site and built their College. Photographs of the official opening of the College show the Parish Priest of Rathfarnham and Dundrum, underlining the relatively youthful offspring that is the Church of the Good Shepherd.

The De La Salle College, Churchtown remember with appreciation the contribution made by the Priests of Churchtown in their role as Chaplains, Fr. Crowe, the late Fr. MacCabe, and the present enthusiastic Fr. McNamara.

Over the years there have been many Pupil Masses celebrated both in the schools and in the Church and pupils have always availed of a confessional service offered regularly within the schools.

In the seventies this partnership became even closer with the musical contribution made by Mr. Shaun Purcell, (a past pupil of the College and at present teaching there) who initiated the music for a Sunday Folk Mass in the Church of the Good Shepherd.

But the highlight of this partnership between the schools and the Church has always been the celebration of the De La Salle’s Day in the Good Shepherd Church. On this day, over 1,300 schoolboys attend Mass in the Church and the sound of their voices rising to the hymn “St. De La Salle, our dearest Father is a tingling experience which will always be remembered.

It is perhaps this experience that past pupils of the College now living further afield will associate with the Good Shepherd. Long may it continue to flourish!

Dave Hewson


The school, consisting of eight classrooms and an Assembly Hall, opened in July 1959. There were 240 pupils enrolled on the first day and they were taken in charge by five Brothers. Brother Aldric, who died in 1968, was first principal and Mr. Sean Cleary, who retired three years ago, was the first lay teacher to be appointed to the staff.

Numbers increased rapidly and admissions to the school had to be limited. This naturally caused annoyance to many parents and embarrassment to the Brothers. The difficulty was solved by the erection of four Pre-Fabs – later to grow to eight. When the boys from Mountainview began to arrive.

In 1975 work started on a permanent extension to the original building. Nine classrooms and a library were added, the Hall was enlarged and a servery provided. This latter is much appreciated by the various groups from the Parish who have the use of the Hall for meetings and social functions.

Over the last few years the child population of the area has been falling. This, of course, is a feature of all the City inner suburbs. Less pupils means smaller classes. This year there are eleven teachers for 300 pupils, ten years ago fifteen teachers had to handle 600. In addition there are two remedial teachers who devote themselves to helping pupils who have difficulties with reading or Arithmetic.

The School can boast of an impressive record in Games and Athletics thanks to the enthusiasm of both pupils and teachers and over the years Cups have been won in Croke Park and Trophies and medals in Santry.

The co-operation of the parents, the constant help given by the Parents’ Committee and the devoted care of the pupils by the School Chaplin, Father McDonnell are deeply appreciated by both Staff and Management.

Br. Fidelis McHugh

Br. Finbarr O’Keeffe


Shortly after the end of the Second World War Churchtown started to become the bustling suburb that we know to-day. It soon became obvious that various essential services would be needed in the developing area.

Not the least important of these was the education on the young people. Consequently the Archbishop requested the Notre Dame Sisters to look after the needs of the girls and the De La Salle Brothers to do likewise for the boys.

Both organisations looked at various properties in the area and the Nuns established themselves in the large house called Fernbank on Upper Churchtown Road, near the original turn-off for Dundrum, which they purchased from a Quaker family.

Their choice of location was obviously considered to be very suitable for a school, because the Brothers started investigating the possibility of purchasing the neighbouring property of Woodstock from the Switzer family, who owned a high-class drapery emporium in Grafton Street.

A problem soon arose however, because the Archbishop thought that it would be unseemly for the Nuns and the Brothers’ schools to be in such close proximity and to avoid giving possible scandal, he suggested that the Brothers should look elsewhere for a site for their school.

This the Brothers duly did, and soon they were negotiating with Mrs. Aine Ceannt, widow of the executed 1916 Leader, for the purchase of Inish More House and grounds. Eventually the Brothers bought the house and most of the grounds. Mrs. Ceannt and her son retired to the extended Gate Lodge retaining portion of the grounds for her own use, and a new gateway was constructed to give access to the new school. In 1952 amid great celebrations the school was blessed and officially opened by Dr. McQuaid, Archbishop of Dublin.

As the population of the area grew it soon became obvious that the house would not be able to cope with the increasing numbers attending the school, and the present College buildings were erected on the site of the former Landscape House. In 1957 the College moved to its present location and the Prep School became a separate entity in its own right. Around this time also the Brothers opened their Primary School on Whitehall Road.

The house which forms the main block of the Preparatory School has a certain air of mystery about it. The official name of the house is Inish More though often the name Inish Ealga is applied to it. These names were used by the Ceannts who took over the house in 1915. The latter name being used in Irish literature as a sort of Poetic name for a Gaelic Ireland. A Literal translation would be the Island of the Brave.

Prior to the purchase of the house by the Ceannts the property was known as Barn Elms, a name that is now more associated with the smaller house up the road. This name is recorded in deeds as far back as 1768 when the property was transferred from Francis Minchin to James Towers. The present house does not date back that far. Although I have not been able to trace exactly when the house was built I think it is safe to say that it would have been built during the first decade of the last century. It is possible that it replaces an earlier house on or near the same site.

The name of Campberly house which is on the old gate piers does not seem to appear in the official records. It may have a connection with Mr. Frederick Campbell of Blackrock who acquired Barn Elms from Alexander Orr and then disposed of it to William O’Neill of Bellvue House, Dundrum, on the same day, i.e. 31st January 1860. The Ceannts seem to have acquired the property from the O’Neills.

One of the most intriguing aspects of the house to me is the fact that apparently they did not use the back door as a servants entrance, but rather used a separate hall beside the main front door. The bell on the other side of the door is marked “Visitors”. It is obvious from the style of the door and locking mechanism that the door was never intended to be opened from the outside like our modern doors with their Yale-type locks. Obviously the builders never conceived a situation where the house would be totally unoccupied, there should always be a servant in attendance. How different things are to-day! I wonder what the reactions of the early residents would be if they returned to the place to-day.

It is perhaps appropriate that this year which is the Silver Jubilee of the Parish is the thirtieth year in the life of the School. It demonstrates the high priority that the education of the young is given in our society. A feature that is now starting to recur with increasing frequency is the attendance at the school of sons of former pupils. This is surely a vote of confidence in the efforts of the Brothers in Churchtown.

I regret the fact that there are gaps in this short history of the Prep School. If there is anyone who can help fill them I would be delighted to hear from them.

Barry Farrell


St. John Baptist De La Salle founded his Congregation of Teaching Brothers in 1680. The great St. Benedict, Father of Western Monasticism, founded his Order – Brothers also – just about 1,000 years previously. De La Salle was a Priest. Benedict lived and died a Brother. The Benedictines, some 200 years after their foundation and at the request of the Holy See, became Priests – Religious Priests – The point I wish to make is that Brotherhood was not something new and strange in the Church when De La Salle founded his congregation.

The un-ordained Disciple existed in the Church from the dawn of Christianity. Indeed the true prototype of the Religious Teaching Brother was none other that the great Precursor: St. John the Baptist. His mission and the mission of the Teaching Brother are identical. “You shall go ahead of the Lord”, said John’s father Zachary, “to prepare His way before Him”. – meaning that John was to prepare the minds and hearts of his listeners for Christ and the Redemption he was to win for them. John was also to “make known to the people their salvation through the forgiveness of their sins”.

De La Salle, in one of his ’Meditations’, instructs the Brothers “that being with the students in the schools they must lead them to God by word and example”. They must enlighten them through their words and inspire them by the holiness of their committed lives.

The work of the Baptist did not end with his death. It must go on as long as new generations are born into the world.

The teaching Brother is one who is called to continue the work of the Baptist. He is not a Priest. Neither was the Baptist a Priest – Herod had his head chopped off three years before the great sacrament of Orders was instituted. But the Brother is one, who, like John, gives his all, in the Religious Life, in order to devote himself completely to the glorious work of saving souls. “Of all divine works, the most divine is to co-operate with God in the salvation of souls”.

Br. Malachy Buckley


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