St. Colmcille’s Boys’ National School, Chapel Lane, Swords, Co.Dublin K67 WP65

(01) 8405132

St Colmcille's BNS

Ní neart go cur le chéile

St Colmcille’s Boys’ National School, 1966 –


In 1966, the population of Swords was 1,892, and educational provision for boys consisted of an infant boys’ school, a senior boys’ school (both located on Seatown Road), a small school at Cloghraun and the Vocational School on North Street. The accommodation on Seatown Road had been inadequate for some time, and some classes had been taught in the Old Borough School on Main Street from 1961 to 1966. The Department of Education had also decided to close the school (St Patrick’s) at Cloghraun and to amalgamate it into the new St Colmcille’s BNS and St Colmcille’s GNS.

Opening of School

The new school building on Chapel Lane was ready for occupation in May 1966, and the pupils were transferred from Seatown Road and Main Street although St Colmcille’s BNS did not come into existence officially as a school until 1 July 1966. There were 311 pupils on roll during this first year, and the teachers at the commencement of the school year were Mr Brendan Kavanagh (Principal), Mr Denis A. Connolly, (Vice-Principal), Mrs Suzy Keane, Mrs Josephine Mc Cague, Ms Mairin Faherty, Patrick O’ Donnell and Seán Murphy.

The schools (St Colmcille’s BNS and St Colmcille’s GNS) were officially opened on 14 February 1967 by Mr Traolach O’ Raifeartaigh, Secretary of the Department of Education and blessed by the Most Rev. Dr Mc Quaid, Archbishop of Dublin. The cost of the schools was £120,000 and a report in the Irish Times referred to St Colmcille’s Schools as “having many modern advantages, including an assembly hall, a concert hall, teachers’ rooms and classrooms for 600 boys and girls.”

Pressure on Accommodation

During the school’s first year, only seven of the eight classrooms were in use, but this situation was to change dramatically because of the significant increase in the population of Swords during the period 1966 to 1971 when it rose to 4,133 (an increase of 117.5%). In 1968, a double pre-fab was erected at one side of the Infant Playground, and in 1971, another double pre-fab was erected in the field which adjoins the Senior play area. This additional accommodation was not sufficient to meet the demand for places in the school, and the Girls’ School on North Street was re-opened in 1972 to cater for 5 classes from our school.

There were classes in North Street until St Colmcille’s GNS was built in 1986, and our school took possession of the entire building. The pressure on accommodation continued and a double pre-fab was erected in 1990.  A Computer Room was opened in 1998 by converting the stage, and a Resource Room was built at the top of the hall in 2003.  A new Resource Building was opened in November 2013. The double Pre-fab which had been erected in 1990, and which contains a Multi-Sensory Room, was refurbished in 2014

Comparison between 1966 and 2014

By way of a comparison between 1966 and 2014, there are 392 pupils in the school, 25 teachers, 6 classroom assistants, a caretaker, a secretary and 2 cleaners. The school is managed by a Board of Management with a lay Chairperson (Mr Thomas Shields) and there is a Parents’ Association whereas in 1966, the Parish Priest was the manager of the school, and the proposal to form a Parent/ Teacher Association did not make very much progress.

1966 – 1970

Archival material relating to the period 1966 -1970 is scarce, and in our 40th Anniversary Book, we invited some of our past pupils to give accounts of their recollections of school so that future generations would have a sense of the school experience during this period. For example, Brendan Grace and Frank Patterson appeared at concerts in the school hall, and every Friday for many years, Fingallians GFC organised Bingo sessions. The Bingo did not finish in the school hall until Fingallians opened its own clubhouse and pavilion. Additionally, an account is extant of the erection of a plaque to commemorate some past pupils who had taken part in the “Struggle for Independence”.

December 1968

The Evening Press (7 December 1968) contained the following notice under the heading, Old IRA Notes: “The Dublin Brigade and kindred organisations have been invited to take part in the 50th Anniversary ceremonies marking the death of Richard Coleman. Mass for him will be offered in the Church of St Colmcille, Swords, tomorrow at 5.30 p.m. Head-dress and medals to be worn. Mr Paddy Buttner will be in charge of the Guard of Honour. Trumpeters and Drummers from St Brigid’s Band will sound salute at the Elevation. Mr Vincent Byrne will be parade commander.”

Ristéard Ó Colmáin, nephew of Richard Coleman, visited the school on two occasions (8 March and 22 March 2006), and he provided some further details with regard to this event. Eamon de Valera, President of Ireland, attended the Mass, and was also present at the unveiling in our school of the plaque to commemorate the memory of Richard Coleman, John Crenigan, Peter Wilson and Thomas Rafferty.  (There is a photograph of R O’ Colmain in one of the Swords Voices).


Dates and Events, 1966-


  • Mr Dan O’ Reilly appointed to staff


  • Mr James Bennett appointed to staff
  • Mr Paddy O’ Neill retired on 30 September


  • School team lost to St Maur’s NS in first Fingal League Final (played at Croke Park)
  • Beat St Maur’s NS in Cup Final (Ciarán Reidy was captain)


  • North Street premises was re-opened with Mr D.A. Connolly, Vice-Principal, in charge


  • Mr Seán Byrne appointed to staff
  • Some classes from St Colmcille’s BNS accommodated in Old Borough School on temporary basis. Mr Michael Bowler and Mr Benny O’ Dowd taught these classes


  • Mr Pat Mc Guinness appointed to staff


  • Mr Brendan Kavanagh retires as Principal and is succeeded by Mr D. A. Connolly
  • First Sponsored Jog held at Lawless Memorial Park
  • Band formed


  • Gaelic Football team won Fingal League (captained by Alan Ryan)
  • Special Class formed


  • Mr D. A. Connolly resigns and is succeeded by Mr James Bennett (20 October 1980)


  • Mr Gerry Lynam appointed as Specialist Reading Teacher
  • Ms Angela Noonan appointed to staff of school


  • Mural with a local history theme painted under the supervision of Joe Lee
  • Athletics team competed in Primary Schools Sports
  • First school magazine produced (Mr Gerry Lynam was editor)
  • Mr Pat Kane appointed as Caretaker
  • Mrs Camilla Nolan appointed as Secretary


  • School uniform introduced
  • New heating system installed
  • Gaelic Football team beaten in Final of Fingal League


  • Some pupils on Poparama on RTE
  • Second place achieved in Environmental Project (John Carberry, Darren Dempsey, Bobby O’ Rahilly, Gerard Travers, Robert Mc Cartney and David Nethaway) – title of project was the Changing Face of Swords
  • School team beaten in Final of Fingal League
  • Swords on Air – mobile radio station set up at JCs Shopping Centre – programmes compered by Mr John Fahey
  • Band played on the occasion of the opening of Swords Community Centre (now Fingal Community College) by President Hillery
  • Cycling course commenced


  • £1,484.75 raised for famine relief in Ethiopia and presented to Concern
  • Band played at Cór Fhéile in the Mansion House
  • Parents’ Association formed
  • Mrs Josephine Mc Cague was Acting Principal for the year
  • Band played on the Late, Late Show (The Toy Programme)


  • North Street vacated at end of school year
  • St Colmcille’s GNS moved to new building
  • School team beaten by St Joseph’s NS, Balcurris in Fingal League Final
  • Domestic Science room opened


  • Apple Computer won in a competition. It was shared among all of the classes
  • Band played at Mansion House
  • Choir sang on RTE
  • Concert on 21 December
  • BBC computers bought
  • Band played at St Patrick’s College, Drumcondra


  • Death of Mr Brendan Kavanagh. He had taught in St Colmcille’s BNS from 1945 – 1978
  • David Mc Gawley won Safe Cyclist of the Year Award in the Dublin Millennium Competition
  • Band accompanied Donncha O’ Dulaing when he arrived at Superquinn as part of the Brian Boru walk
  • Choir and band perform at Mansion House
  • Choir and band perform at Aer Rianta Festival as part of the Dublin Millennium celebrations


  • Band and choir perform at Mansion House
  • Concert in school – band and choir play with North Dublin Youth Orchestra
  • School choir came second in Feis Cheoil
  • Garda band played at school
  • Vote taken to change school opening time from 9.20 a.m. to 8.50 a.m.


  • Perimeter fence erected
  • Double pre-fab erected
  • Soccer team beaten in semi-final of inaugural Fingal League


  • Soccer team beaten in final of Fingal Soccer League
  • Choir sang in opera, Hansel and Gretel, in Newman House
  • School concert in 1991


  • School garden won a prize in Environmental Awareness Scheme
  • Band played at Mansion House
  • Write a Book competition organised


  • Book Fair organised
  • School team won regional final of Credit Union quiz and came 5th overall in finals


  • School team beat St Helen’s, Portmarnock (on penalties) in the final of the Fingal Soccer League. A minute’s silence was observed before kick-off as a mark of respect for Fr Declan Mc Hugh who had died earlier that day


  • Fr Michael O’ Reilly retired as PP and Chairperson of BOM
  • Fr Sean O’ Neill became PP and Chairperson of BOM


  • Michael Scott, author, visits school
  • Project 1900 organised by Mr Gerry Lynam and co-ordinated by Martin Mc Kane, a pupil


  • Mr Dan O’ Reilly was acting Principal for the year


  • Fund raising campaign to build Computer Room
  • Computer Room opened with 16 PCs in it


  • Joseph and His Amazing Technicolor staged as part of school concert
  • Gaelic Football team won Fingal League. (First Gaelic trophy in 20 years). The captain was Ciaran Farrell
  • Race Night at Sportslink
  • Garda Band played at Grand Hotel as part of fund-raising campaign


  • 16 PCs bought
  • Boys from 6th Class achieved highly commended award in Heritage competition


  • Local history book, Swords, our Town, produced and published by 6th Class
  • Local history notes published on website
  • Cricket team plays in blitz at Rush CC


  • Mrs Nolan becomes Secretary at St Colmcille’s GNS and is succeeded by Mrs Mary Mc Gee
  • St Colmcille’s BNS won u12 and o13 team prizes in Cross Country championships
  • New Code of Behaviour introduced
  • Website re-organised


  • Swimming lessons provided at ALSAA for pupils in 2nd, 3rd, 4th , 5th and 6th Classes
  • Mural designed and co-ordinated by Ms Ciara Brangan completed
  • Events for Special Olympics raise €3,264.53
  • St Colmcille’s BNS retain over 12 Cross-Country title
  • Mr Pat Kane retires as Caretaker and is succeeded by Mr Liam Molloy
  • School team beat John Paul 11 NS in the Fingal League Final (4-3)
  • School team lost to Drimnagh Castle in final of Primary Schools Soccer League
  • Resource Room built at top of hall
  • School garden re-started
  • Mr Thomas Shields becomes Chairperson of BOM


  • Special Award for School Garden in ESB Environmental Awareness Competition
  • Cross-country teams win u10, u12, o12 competitions
  • Fingal Schools Gaelic League won by defeating St Patrick’s BNS, 4-10 to 3-4
  • Figures for crib presented by St Colmcille’s Parish
  • First phase of installation of new heating system commenced


  • School won u10, u12 and o12 in Cross-country championships
  • Installation of new heating system completed
  • Water tank in tower replaced


  • 40th Anniversary of school
  • Anniversary Mass celebrated by Bishop Field
  • Art Exhibition held
  • Year Book published
  • Mr Dan O’ Reilly retires as Deputy Principal and is succeeded by Mr Seán Byrne
  • Death of V. Rev Michael O’ Reilly, former PP and Chairperson of Board of Management


  • Electrical installation completely re-furbished.  Intercom and CCTV installed
  • Year Book published
  • Soccer team wins Fingal League


  • Senior Football team beaten by St Patrick’s SNS, Skerries in final of Fingal League
  • Junior Football team won Fingal League
  • Soccer team retained Fingal League Title
  • School is awarded Green Flag


  • Planting of flower beds completed under supervision of Mrs M Mc Kernan
  • Representatives from St Colmcille’s BNS attended bicentennial celebrations of Old Borough NS
  • Project completed on St Colmcille  by Fifth Class (retained in School Archives)
  • Soccer team was runners-up in Fingal Soccer League
  • Installation of new windows and roof lights in classrooms (Summer 2009)
  • Installation of new mains water system (Summer 2009)
  • Data projectors installed in every classroom
  • Education cut-backs resulted in loss of 1 mainstream teaching post and 1 language support post (September 2009)


  • Teaching computer in every room, wireless keyboard and mouse put in each classroom
  • Projector screens installed in every classroom (February)
  • Roller Blinds erected in every classroom (March)
  • New sinks installed in every classroom, push-down taps also installed
  • Second Green Flag presented (April)
  • Multi-cultural Day (April)
  • FAI cup brought to school by Lorcan Fitzgerald  (past pupil) and Conan Byrne of Sporting Fingal (May)
  • School soccer team beaten 2-1 by Oatlands in final of Cup. Game was played at Irishtown Stadium
  • School soccer team won Fingal section of League. Went through season unbeaten in League.
  • Art Exhibition in June
  • Multi-sensory room established
  • Roof replaced
  • Library re-located to pre-fab
  • Continuing education cut-backs result in loss of 1 language post and 1 mainstream class teacher
  • Staffing in the school for the new school year is 16 mainstream teachers, 9 resource teachers and principal
  • Infant enrolment at all-time low – 45
  • New picnic tables delivered (October 2010)


  • Safety Railings erected (January)
  • Albert Van der Merwe (Cricket Coach at St Colmcille’s BNS) is selected to represent Ireland in World Cup
  • Interactive whiteboard installed, March
  • Multi-cultural evening, April
  • New play area installed, April
  • Car park and driveway re-surfaced, April
  • New Traffic Barrier installed, May
  • Fingal Soccer League retained, May
  • New steps made for stage, May
  • Series of concerts on 13, 14, 15 June; Smike staged on each day
  • 7 interactive white boards installed (July)
  • Data projectors installed in all resource rooms (July)
  • Teddy Bears’ Picnic, August
  • Paul Flynn, past pupil, brought in Sam Maguire Cup, to school (7 October)
  • Remainder of mainstream classes equipped with interactive white boards (November)
  • New Public Address system bought (November)
  • E-learning Team established (November)


  • School team wins Fingal Section of Credit Union Quiz (January)
  • Multi-cultural Evening, (March)
  • School awarded 3rd Green Flag (June)
  • Permission given for standalone building to replace portacabins
  • Prayer Service as part of Eucharistic Congress Celebrations (June)
  • Concert series, featuring Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat staged on 19, 20 June
  • New shed erected in July; 1 portacabin removed
  • Fr Sean O’ Neill, PE, former chairperson of BOM, died on 6 August
  • Oil tank replaced on 10 August
  • 1 less Language Support teacher for new school year
  • Work on separation of water supply between St Colmcille’s GNS and St Colmcille’s BNS completed in August
  • Catherine Walsh, mother of Conor Roode, won 2 medals at Paralympics. She visited the school on 19 September and spoke to the members of the school community
  • Parents’ Association organised Cake Sale (proceeds were €1,051)
  • Winner of X-Factor was Stephen Wang


  • Multi-cultural Evening, 20 March 2013 (proceeds were €1,200)
  • School Junior Gaelic team lost final to Holy Family SNS at Parnell Park, 11 June 2013 (2-6 to 3-7)
  • Boys  took part in Bicycle Picnic as part of Bike Week, 17 June
  • Boys appeared on News2Day on RTE 2. They were talking about safe cycling, value of cycling, 17 June
  • Display of Historical Projects, 24 June
  • Launch of Images of Swords, 24 June
  • Mr Seán Byrne retired as Deputy Principal; Mr Pat Mc Guinness appointed as Deputy Principal
  • 1 mainstream teacher less in school for new year due to decrease in enrolment; staffing in school for new school year is Principal, 15 mainstream class teachers, 7 resource teachers and 1 language resource teacher (24 teachers in total)
  • Portacabin removed from yard; new classrooms commenced during summer vacation
  • Mr Liam Molloy retires as Caretaker (August)
  • Mr Christy Russell appointed as Caretaker on 19 August
  • New network installed in Computer Room (August)
  • Additional temporary resource teacher appointed in November. This post will only last until end of school year
  • New Building opened on 18 November


  • After 7 years of difficulties with water leaks, water charges etc, Fingal County Council representatives accepted that the leak or leaks were outside the school boundaries. This saga has cost the school upwards of €60,000 and an incredible amount of labour hours. (15 January).
  • Ms Olivia Clinton, a teacher in our school, was killed in a traffic accident in Balbriggan on 17 January
  • School was closed on 20 January as a mark of respect to the late Ms Clinton
  • Partition erected in Resource Room at top of Hall (February)
  • Bishop Field celebrated Memorial Mass in St Colmcille’s for Ms Clinton on 13 March 2014
  • Upgrade of IT installation completed to cater for the loss of support for Windows XP – overall expenditure on IT during this year was €25,000.
  • Project entitled “The Farm Labourers’ Strike in Swords in 1913” completed by boys from 6th Class and submitted to DES as part of Decade of Centenaries competition
  • Meeting on 4 April 2014 with Fr Michael Carey, Administrator, St Colmcille’s Parish and Ms Mary Downey, Acting Principal of St Colmcille’s GNS to discuss re-allocation of Boroimhe estate to St Colmcille’s Parish
  • Multi-cultural Evening held on Tuesday, 8 April 2014. Proceeds donated to assist with some of Éabha Dunne’s medical expenses. (Éabha is Ms Clinton’s daughter). The total sum raised was €4,025
  • Principal’s Office was re-decorated. (April)
  • School Gaelic team was beaten in final of Fingal League by Gaelscoil na Cille (May). The score was 7-10 to 3-4
  • 4th Green Flag presented to school by Mayor of Fingal, Mags Murray, on 23 June.
  • Pre-fab renovated in July. It had been erected in 1990.
  • Memorial Garden dedicated to the late Ms Olivia Clinton was developed in August
  • Mr Pat Kane, former caretaker, died on 25 August
  • School received notice of Whole School Evaluation which would commence on 29 September
  • Second edition of Images of Swords published. It was sponsored by Fingal County Council. Function in Carnegie Court Hotel which was attended by Mags Murray, Mayor of Fingal
  • Very positive report received in Whole School Evaluation


  • School received very positive report in Whole School Evaluation
  • Mr Tom Shields resigned  as Chairperson of Board of Management, thus ending a 71 year association with our school (March)
  • Multi-cultural Evening on 24 March realised the sum of €2,502.22
  • Mrs Veronica Mc Dermott became Chairperson of Board on Management on 25 March 2015
  • Project entitled, “A Tale of Two Prize Winners” was entered in Decade of Centenaries competition
  • There were 17 applicants for the post of Principal of St Colmcille’s BNS
  • Mr James Bennett retired on 31 August
  • Mr Kieran Lyons was appointed as Principal, 1 September
  • New photocopier bought in June at a cost of €2,350.
  • Gaelic Football team won Local Area Credit Union Blitz, 4 June.
  • Mr Seamus and Mrs Margaret Clinton (parents of Olivia Clinton, RIP) called to see Memorial Garden, 5 June
  • Gaelic Football team won Credit Union Final, 18 June 2015
  • School was awarded Developing School Status. This counteracted some of the impact of the loss of a mainstream post. Teacher could only be deployed in Junior Infants


  • Book Fair held in the school hall
  • Break times changed to 10.45 a.m. – 11.00 a.m. and 12.35 p.m. – 1.00 p.m.
  • Grey polo shirt and green school shorts became part of P.E. uniform on 4th April
  • Proclamation Day celebrations 15th May. Mr Christy Russell, caretaker played the bagpipes
  • School Concert held 15th May
  • Mr Pat McGuinness retired on 31st August
  • New Primary Language Curriculum introduced in September
  • Mr Kieran Lyons resigned on 9th December
  • Ms Ciara Brangan was appointed as Principal on 10 December


  • Ms Angela Noonan was appointed as Deputy Principal
  • Toilets in all 16 mainstream classrooms and staff toilets refurbished.
  • Fire doors fitted to classrooms and offices
  • Sponsored Fun Run was held on 14th March
  • Multicultural Evening was held on 4th April
  • Staff room extended and refurbished
  • Laminate flooring fitted to R.16
  • Picnic benches were purchased for the Junior Yard
  • The History of St Colmcille’s BNS 1966 – 2016 written to celebrate our 50th anniversary, was launched on 21st June
  • An additional mainstream post was sanctioned, bringing the total number of mainstream teaching posts to 16.
  • Cycling safety course for boys in 6th Classes
  • Mrs Mary McGee, Secretary retired on 3rd November
  • Mrs Margaret McKernan was appointed as School Secretary on 16th October
  • Prefab divided into two smaller resource rooms
  • RTÉ film crew videoed the pupils participating in Marathon Kids on 4th October
  • Parents’ Association coordinated a ‘Design your own Christmas Card’ initiative


  • All corridors painted
  • Tina Mation, animator held workshops with pupils from 1st – 6th Classes
  • Old PE store room converted into a padded calm room
  • A new multisensory room was constructed at the end of the assembly hall
  • Easter camp held in March
  • Six classes participated in the pilot of the new Drumcondra Standardised Tests of Reading and Maths
  • Bricks for Kids workshop
  • St Colmcille’s Girls’ National School held a concert in our school hall in April
  • Hatch constructed to Secretary’s Office in July
  • 16 mainstream classrooms painted
  • WiFi installed
  • All teachers supplied with encrypted USB sticks


  • Gate connecting our premises and Aldi’s premises opened 4th March
  • RDS Science Expo, 7th March – 3 classes participated
  • Training session for staff on using iPads to enhance teaching and learning
  • A class set of 16 iPads was purchased
  • Oil boiler repaired – new door fitted
  • Both 4th Classes participated in TIMSS (Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study) Wednesday, 27th March
  • Multicultural Evening was held on 9th April
  • Animatronic Dinosaur and fossil workshops Friday, 10th May
  • The Stage / computer room was painted
  • Two prefabs were painted
  • Representative from the Metrolink met with members of the BOM, Thursday 17th October


  • IT grant used to purchase 90 PCs running Windows 10
  • Finger guards fitted to internal doors
  • Fire Alarm panel upgraded
  • Sacrament of Confirmation 12th March 2020
  • All schools closed due to the Covid-19 pandemic on 12th March 2020
  • Seesaw app used to communicate with parents of pupils during the national lockdown
  • Board of Management meetings held online during national lockdown
  • Graduation for 6th Class held in the Junior Yard on Monday, 29th June 2020, with social distancing in place
  • Online payments facility introduced
  • Sherpa Kids before- and after- school childcare opened on 10th August
  • School reopened on 28th August 2020
  • Paper hand towels fitted at all sinks, hand sanitiser dispensers fitted throughout the school
  • staff wear face coverings, social distancing in place
  • New school website built by a small group of talented teachers, and launched on 1st October

Principals (New Borough Senior Boys’ School)

1881:           Denis Holland (Swords Boys’ National School) (appointed on 1 October 1881)

1887:           Denis Holland (Title of school changed to New Borough Senior Boys’ School)

1917:           Andrew J. Hamill (Joined staff on 7 January 1901)

1946:           Peter Leo Keane (Joined staff on 1 July 1917)

1960:           Brendan Kavanagh (Joined staff on 1 October 1946)

1966:           New Borough Senior Boys’ School was amalgamated with New Borough Infant Boys’ School and St Patrick’s NS, Cloughran to form St Colmcille’s BNS.

1966:           Brendan Kavanagh

1978:           Denis A. Connolly (Joined staff on 20 October 1958)

1980:           James Bennett (Joined staff on 1 July 1970, appointed Principal on 20 October 1980)

2015:           Kieran Lyons (Joined staff on 1 September 2015, resigned on 9 December 2016)

2016            Ciara Brangan (joined staff on 1 September 1998, appointed Principal on 10 December 2016)