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Synge Street CBS

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Synge Street CBS
Synge Street, Dublin

D08 R283
TypeChristian Brothers
Motto"Viriliter Age"
"Act Manfully".'
Religious affiliation(s)Roman Catholic[1]
OpenedApril 12, 1864; 156 years ago (1864-04-12)
PrincipalClare Catterson[1]
Age range12–19
Colour(s)Blue and White

Synge Street CBS is an award-winning[2] Christian Brothers boys school[1] located on Synge Street, in Dublin 8, Ireland. It was founded in 1864, with 10 Christian Brothers and 66 pupils.[3][4] It has a particularly notable history of success in the Young Scientist competition, with former teacher Jim Cooke mentoring multiple winning student groups over many years.

The Christian Brothers monastery at Synge Street was instrumental is opening multiple schools in the Dublin 8 and Dublin 12 areas.

The school also has an illustrious group of alumni, including having both the serving President of Ireland and Taoiseach as past pupils.


The first school on Synge Street was founded by the Christian Brothers in 1864.[5] The school officially opened April 12, 1864 and first pupil enrolled was Paul McSwiney, son of the Lord Mayor of Dublin, Peter Paul McSwiney.[5] Very quickly the number on roll reached its limit at 600 pupils with 10 Christian Brothers employed teaching them.[4] The school building was extended four times over the next half century culminating with the purchase and demolition of three cottages at Nos. 13-15 Synge Street and extending the school building into the space.[4] In 1931, a gaelscoil was opened in premises at Harcourt Street by brothers from the school community.[6] Called Choláiste Mhuire, the school in 1933 moved to the Gaelic League headquarters on Parnell Square and ceased to be managed from Synge Street.[6]

In 1925 the school affiliated to the newly created Irish Free State's Programme for National Schools,[7] and has continued to provide education free of charge since then.[1]

The school is known as "Synger" colloquially,[8] while the new secondary school is officially known as St Paul's Secondary School, Heytesbury Street. The present building replaced a row of houses, used for class-rooms, and was opened in the late 1960s. It was extended in the 1980s.[3]

Primary schools

In 1930 a new primary school was opened at Donore Avenue to the west, under the patronage of the Brothers at Synge Street.[4] This was followed in 1947 by the building of Scoil Iosagáin Primary School, again under Synge Street's patronage, to the south at Aughavanna Road in Dolphin's Barn,[4] and by the opening, in 1954,[9] of the new Sancta Maria CBS primary to the north of the current school on Synge Street. In 2017 Bunscoil Sancta Maria changed its enrolment policy to accept boys and girls at Junior Infant level to be educated via the medium of Irish.[10] The existing enrolment of boys at 2nd class remains.[10] This Irish stream was the first ever 'sruth' established at primary level in Ireland. In 1961, a new primary was opened at Francis Street, replacing an earlier 1846 building, under the patronage of the school's Christian Brother's community.[11]


The school has produced many great soccer, gaelic football, hurling and judo teams.


The school has a very strong soccer tradition[12] producing many great players including Ireland internationals Billy Whelan (one of the Busby Babes who died in the Munich air disaster), Tommy Hamilton (the Shamrock Rovers stalwart) and Andy Reid.[13][14]

It won its first soccer trophy - the Leinster Junior School's Cup - in 1977,[15] and until recently[when?] had a very strong under 18's soccer team winning Leinster Trophies and representing the school in many tournaments including the Schools World Cup[16] in Israel, which Synge Street represented Ireland in 1993.[17] They finished the competition in sixth place and took the fair play award.[17] On the way to the Leinster trophy, the school beat other Dublin schools such as Drimnagh Castle. They then went on to win an all Ireland competition before representing Ireland in the school's world cup in 1993.

Gaelic football

As with most Christian Brothers schools of the time, football and hurling were the school's two traditional sports throughout the 20th century. The school produced numerous successful teams, including Dublin and Leinster Colleges Champions in 1964 at Under 15, a team that included Don Givens,[18], while the school contested three out of six Leinster Colleges hurling and football finals in 1956.[11]

Until 1999, past pupils of the school played together in a unique club - Synge Street Past Pupils GFC. The club would only register players who had formerly been pupils at the school. In 1999 the club merged with Templeogue GFC to form Templeogue Synge Street GFC.[19]

The club own their own grounds at Dolphin Park, in Dolphins Barn. This ground was originally the Dolphin Racing Track and was purchased by the Christian Brothers in 1943, as playing fields for the school, with a total area of 15 acres,[20] but were subsequently sold the club in the 1990s.


Kevin's Hurling club, also based in Dolphin's Barn, is independent of the school, being originally set up for Saint Kevin's Parish.[21] But its association with the school goes back to the turn of the 20th century. In 1934 Sylvestor Muldowney, a past pupil of the school, became one of the few Dublin natives to represent his county in an All-Ireland hurling final.[21]

Young Scientist Exhibition

Synge Street pupils, c.1941. Tom Burke, co-founder of the Young Scientist Exhibition is pictured[22]
Synge Street pupils, c.1941. Tom Burke, co-founder of the Young Scientist Exhibition is pictured[22]

The school has one of the best success rates in the Young Scientist competition and one of their main science teachers, Jim Cooke, was considered one of the best science teachers in Ireland, receiving many awards in his field.[23] The school has won the overall contest of the Esat Young Scientist competition on three occasions, the only school to ever do so.[8]

The first outright winner was 5th year student Ronan Larkin in 2004, having won a category prize the previous year, which then paved the way into a remarkable decade of success.[24] His winning project was entitled 'Generalised Continued Fractions'.[25]

This was followed in 2012 when Leaving Cert students Eric Doyle and Mark Kelly won the overall prize and represented Ireland in the European Union Contest for Young Scientists competition in September 2012 in Bratislava, where they awarded 1st place in Physics and joint overall first place.[26]

The last overall winner from the school was Somalia-born Abdusalam Abubakar, a 3rd year student, who became one of the youngest winners of the BT Young Scientist of the Year Award in 2007 and later went on to win the EU Contest for Young Scientists for his project, which was entitled An Extension of Wiener's Attack on RSA.[27] In 2009, Andrei Triffo took Individual Honours winning the Intel Travel Award,[28] the fourth for Synge Street in the last 5 years. As well as Andrei, a group consisting of Gary Carr, Graham McGrath and Darragh Moriarty also claimed a prize in the Chemical, Physical and Mathematical Intermediate category.[29]

In 2017, the school won 3 awards, including both 1st and 2nd Place in the Junior Group category, where Carl Jones and Keiron O’Neill won with a project on Generalisations of Feynman's Triangle Theorem.[30]

The first ever Young Scientist Exhibition was held in the Mansion House, Dublin in 1965: 230 students participated and 5,000 people attended. One of the co-founders was Fr. Tom Burke who was himself a past pupil, from the class of 1941.[31]

Honours list

  • 2017 – Carl Jones and Keiron O’Neill Junior Group Winners[30]
  • 2016 – Gabriel Barat and Adrian Wolniak – Group Runners-up[32] and Intel Travel Award Winners
  • 2014 – Sufyan Huma and Haider Hussain – Intel Travel Award[33]
  • 2012 – Mark Kelly and Eric Doyle – Overall Winner.[34]
  • 2009 – Andrei Triffo – Best Individual Award and Intel Travel Award.[35][36][37]
  • 2007 – Abdusalam Abubakar – Overall Winner.[38][39]
  • 2006 – Keith Florea, Adrian Chisa and Sandeep Sihag – Group Winners.[40]
  • 2006 – Gohar Abbasi – Overall Runner Up.[41]
  • 2005 – Michael Mulhall and Francis Wasser – Group Winners.[42]
  • 2004 – Ronan Larkin – Overall Winner[43]
  • 2003 – Ronan Larkin – Category Prize[24]

Notable teaching staff

As well as Jim Cooke, other notable past teachers of the school include Francis MacManus, three of whose pupils James Plunkett, Pearse Hutchinson and John Jordan, went on to be famous writers.[44] Former TD Tony Gregory taught at the school in the 1960s and 70s.[45] Pat McQuaid taught PE there in the 70s and 80s.

Notable past pupils

Media and the arts

Politics and public service



The school motto is "Viriliter Age" (translated "Act Manfully") and is a standard used by many Christian Brothers' schools throughout the world.[95]


The school has garnered an enviable reputation, particularly in relation to its notable alumni.[96] At one point both the President of Ireland and the Taoiseach who served him, Cearbhall Ó Dálaigh and Liam Cosgrave respectively, were both past pupils.[96]

Abuse allegations

In 2020, a former teacher at the primary school, Patrick Harte, was convicted of multiple indecent assault charges relating back to the 1960s and 1970s at the school.[97]

Popular culture

John Carney, a past pupil of Synge Street, has set his 2016 feature film Sing Street in and around the school. The film's protagonist, Conor, attends the school, forming a band with schoolmates and coming into conflict with the fictional Christian Brother school principal.[98] The film's production notes make clear that the school and persons portrayed in the film are very different from the school as it is today.[99]

See also


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External links

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