2019 was another active year for the development of the School with the opening of a new Learning Centre for the Third Line: The Bellarmine Centre and the conclusion of a three-year dormitory refurbishment programme for the 1929 Building.
The Bellarmine Centre reflects the best in modern learning practice, it will transform the learning experience of future generations of boys in Elements and Rudiments, much in the same way as the James Joyce Library (2008) has done for the wider school body. The creation of the Bellarmine Centre has revolutionized the space, which was once the refectory and kitchens of the 1966 Building, and more recently the Third Line study, into a bright and welcoming space. At the same time, it’s construction has allowed for the clearance of a jumble of outhouses and the temporary church from Letterkenny which was purchased by Fr. James Brennan SJ, in the 1901, in order to serve as a gymnasium, theatre and exam hall. This has created an open space out towards 1999, Rhetoric Block and the Science, Arts and Technology Building (2010). Eventually this space will become a second quadrangle.
The summer of 2019 saw the completion of the refurbishment of the dormitory space in the 1929 Building. Largely untouched since the Building became operational in 1932, the dormitories were in need of a significant overhaul. The works started with the replacement of the windows in an environmentally supportive way and then moved on to the renovation of the living space in three phases in a manner that was sympathetic to the original building. The 1932 Clongownian noted, “the dormitories are divided into cubicles, roomy and comfortable, each with hot and cold water, linen press and separate window over which the owner exercises undisputed control.” That the recently finished refurbishment can be described as light touch, by our Board of Management’s building committee, is a testament to the quality of the original construction, specification and design. It is estimated that the 1929 Building would cost some €30m to build today with the caveat that “in modern times it could never be economically built to the level of specification in the original construction.” The original investment in quality paid dividends in the sense that the Building functioned for some 90 years without any meaningful investment.