The Clongowes Wood College Foundation
Founded in 2004, The Clongowes Wood College Foundation (the Foundation) is an independent charity whose function is to support the long-term financial health of the College in order that it can focus on the maximum development of the ‘gifts and capacities with which each student is endowed’. Over its long and rich history, the Clongowes campus has evolved to cater for a growing number of pupils as well as the needs of generational change. The foresight and generosity of previous generations has endowed the college with many iconic buildings and protected structures all of which are in constant need of repair and refurbishment. The college’s operating surplus falls short of what is needed to sustain this legacy. The role of the Foundation is to fund the shortfall thereby allowing the Board of Management to plan for the future of the school and deliver on its objective of educating young men of ‘competence, conscience and compassionate commitment’.
The Long Tradition of Fundraising in Clongowes
After a fire had destroyed the Old Study Hall (the Lower Line Study), in 1886, a meeting was held of Old Clongownians with the specific aim of raising funds for the rebuilding of the Hall and other future building works. This is the first reference to fund raising for the school that this Chair has come across. Of greater interest are the details around the funding of the Boy’s Chapel found in The Clongownian of 1908. There it was noted that the reason ‘the long desired New Chapel (as it was then called), is now so far advanced and free from debt is due to the well-timed generosity of two young Jesuit Fathers, who before taking their Solemn Vows, set aside between them a sum £6,000 for building a chapel at Clongowes.’ Using the price of The Clongownian as a measure of value implies that these two young Jesuits gifted the college some €4.25m in today’s money. The benefactors were Fr. D.E. O’Brien SJ, a past Tullabeg man, and Fr. George R. Roche SJ, a past Clongownian. There were many other benefactors and a special note was made of ‘the munificent and most appropriate gift of the High Altar, made to the Rector on Union Day, by the Right Hon. The Lord Chief Baron’, the then President of The Clongowes Union.
Of equal interest is a disagreement over the financial position of the college, which took place in 1830 between the new Rector, Fr. B. Esmonde SJ and his predecessor Fr. Kenney SJ. In short, money had been borrowed to sustain the college and now it had to be refunded. After the completion of the Higher Line and Lower Line Buildings and the building that became the People’s Chapel, all built in the 1819-21 period when Fr Aylmer SJ was Rector, no major building works took place for some 50 years. There are two lessons from the above: any sustainable development plan for the College cannot rely on debt funding alone and what we enjoy today is a function of the munificence of past benefactors. So, while the Foundation is young, the tradition of fund raising in Clongowes is a long and successful one.
In the14 years of its existence, the Foundation has facilitated the creation of the Co-operative Learning Centre (completed in 2014), the Science, Art and Technology Building (2010), the James Joyce Library (2008), a new Sports Hall (2011), the installation of the Vinny Murray All Weather pitch (2005), and its subsequent resurfacing (2018), and the building of an indoor swimming pool (2017), to replace the one built in 1886. As the graphic below shows, other renovation and renewal works have taken place throughout this time period.
In 2007 the Alberto Hurtado Bursary Programme (AHP), was launched. The AHP is a bursary scheme inspired by the desire to remove barriers to the unique educational experience that a seven-day boarding school can offer. The objective of the AHP is to offer opportunity to boys who might otherwise not fulfil their potential because of socio-economic disadvantage. Students are not selected on the basis of academic, sporting or musical abilities. They are chosen instead on the basis of eligibility and suitability, family ambition and their potential to thrive in a boarding environment.
To date, thirty-eight AHP students have graduated from the College. Aside from one past pupil who is repeating his Leaving in order to study his preferred academic choice, all thirty-eight have proceeded onto third-level education. Most of these past pupils have attended primary schools in areas with designated disadvantage status (DEIS) where rates of progression onto third-level education is only 2% approximately. The impact of the programme goes well beyond academic achievements and the AHP, now in its 13th year, has grown into an integral part of the fabric of Clongowes’ Life.
Learn more about the Alberto Hurtado Bursary Programme.
The Past Year
In a departure from normal practice a committee of parents was engaged in a lightning campaign to raise funds to facilitate a speedy resurfacing of the Vinny Murray all-weather pitch (VMP). With great enthusiasm and effort Paul Dowling, Jim Ryan, Hilary Behan, Bill Carroll, Andrew Coonan and Ollie Reilly set about their task with some encouragement and guidance from the Chair and the campaign was brought to a successful conclusion ahead of the official opening of the pitch on 13th January 2018. The Foundation would like to thank all those parents who donated and the committee for their generosity and their time.
The refurbishment of the Elements’ dormitory, in the 1929 Building, was completed hours before the arrival of the boys to the school. For those of us who spent some part of our lives in these dormitories the transformation of the living space, while maintaining its uniqueness, is quite amazing.
131 years after the opening of the old swimming pool, the first of its kind in Ireland, the new pool was due to be formally opened in early March 2018 before the intervention of Storm Emma. This pool, as can be seen from the accompanying photo, is a wonderful addition to the college and – together with the sports hall – and VMP provides a hugely impressive sports campus.
Our Current Plans
The college is in the process of a multi-year refurbishment of the dormitories in the 1929 Building. Following on from the above-mentioned refurbishment of the Elements dormitory, two further phases were completed in time for the start of the current academic year. This refurbishment project, including the replacement of the windows in an environmentally supportive way, is a major overhaul of dormitories that have been untouched, to a great extent, since their creation some 90 years ago. That this could be the case says much about the quality of the original materials and work. Indeed, our building committee estimates that it would cost well over €30m to build the 1929 Building today.
Another immediate project is the transformation of the study facilities for the Third Line into a learning space that will reflect the best in modern learning practise. The so-called Third Line Learning Environment (TLLE) will seek to complement the existing James Joyce Library while integrating the space into the surrounding area in a way that will enhance the school campus tremendously. Work on the TLLE is already under way with the completion of the project due in the spring of 2019.
In our opening paragraphs we made mention of the need to cater for generational change. The generational change of the past 40 years has been the declining presence of Jesuit priests in the running of Clongowes. In their place a lay administration, including the first lay head, has emerged to run the school in the Jesuit tradition. To accommodate such change the Foundation must address the housing needs of the lay administration, including permanent and appropriate accommodation for the current headmaster and his family and future heads and the boarding needs of prefects and their respective families.
A key, near-term objective of the Foundation is to put the funding of the AHP onto a more sustainable basis through the launch of an AHP Endowment Fund. Building on an initial, significant donation from a fellow past pupil, we hope to build a Fund of close to €20m. The objective will be to protect the real value of the fund through time while generating sufficient income to fund the Bursary Programme. Through legacies, other Old Clongownians have committed over €4m to this Endowment Fund already. It is an ambitious project but a project that the history of Clongowes tells us can be achieved.
The Board of Trustees of the Foundation is determined to comply with the best standards of governance and management. Over the past academic year, the Foundation spent a large amount of time ensuring that it was compliant with the EU General Data Protection Regulation directive (GDPR), ahead of its implementation in May 2018. The project was overseen by Denise Nichol, the School’s Director of Finance and Administration (DFA). In order to ensure that adequate standards were met, the Foundation along with the College engaged KPMG as an external consultant to the GDPR project.
Structure of The Clongowes Foundation
The Clongowes Wood College Foundation is a separate legal entity to the School with its own Board of Trustees who are appointed by the Jesuit Provincial. The Foundation Trustees ensure correct governance in all fiduciary matters relating to the Foundation and the Foundation in turn reports to the Foundation Trustees and the College Board of Management. The Board of Trustees is comprised of Patrick Halpenny (OC’77), Chairperson; the Rector, Fr. Michael Sheil SJ (OC‘56); Chris Lumb, the Headmaster; Peter Murphy from the Jesuit Provincial’s Office and Joe Rooney (OC’79), a member of the College’s Board of Management, and the current Chair of the Foundation. The Foundation’s auditors are KPMG, Chartered Accountants.
The Foundation Team: Ms Emma Robinson, Mr Joe Rooney, Ms Denise Nichol, Ms Marie Fox
In September 2017 Joe Rooney took over the Chair of the Foundation upon the retirement of Martin Nugent. The Foundation and the College are indebted to Martin Nugent for the 40 years of his life that he gave Clongowes as a teacher, a deputy headmaster and an administrator. Over this long period of service, Martin has left a long and meaningful legacy to Clongowes. The past academic year saw the departure of Michelle Bourke to take on a role with the Graduate School of UCD. In the spring of 2018 Emma Robinson joined the Foundation as its Development Officer. The Foundation is dependent on the tireless energy and support of Denise Nichol, the school’s DFA.