Gonzaga College

Gonzaga College is a fee-paying, Catholic boys' secondary school in Ranelagh, Dublin, Ireland, under the trusteeship of the Society of Jesus (the Jesuit Order). Founded in 1950, the curriculum is traditional, with a broad general programme of subjects including Latin and Greek at junior cycle and the opportunity in senior cycle to study eight subjects for the Leaving Certificate. Gonzaga College is one of five Jesuit schools in Ireland.

The school is named after the early Jesuit Saint Aloysius Gonzaga and takes its emblem from the coat of arms of the Gonzaga family. The school has a liberal, intellectual, Jesuit ethos and its pupils must be Catholic and live south of the River Liffey. The annual fee for the 2010â€"2011 academic year was €5,100.


Gonzaga College

The school is located 3.7 km (2.3 mi) from Dublin city centre on a large area of land including a front lawn with cricket crease, rugby pitches and tennis courts. The school buildings include a library, chapel, clock tower, priests' residence and science block. The architecture of the school mixes modern copper-roofed buildings with older period houses. Some sections of the school grounds were sold to developers for housing in the 1980s and 1990s.

In 2007, the school began a major extension project, increasing the size of the school building by over 80%. The new building opened to students for the 2009-10 school year.

Academic performance

Gonzaga College

Gonzaga College has a reputation for academic excellence. The use of examinations to select pupils for admission has been discontinued following government intervention (the state part-funds the school by paying some teachers' salaries), although boys and parents are interviewed ("the interview is a sharing of ideas"). In 2005, the school sent 68% of its Leaving Certificate pupils to University College Dublin and 21% to Trinity College Dublin. Almost every year, it comes first in a league table of Irish schools ranked by percentage of Leaving Certificate students progressing to third level education.

Visual arts, theatre, and music are emphasised in the curriculum; pupils are encouraged to study Latin and Greek. The school chess team has been particularly successful, winning national and international awards. Notably, their achievements include dozens of Leinster and All-Ireland titles as well as winning the prestigious Millfield International Chess Tournament, held in Somerset, UK, in 1992, 1999 and 2014.


Gonzaga College

The primary sport focused on in Gonzaga is rugby, however many other sports such as tennis, golf, and athletics are also played within the school.

The Junior Cup Rugby teams of 1989, 2003 and 2006 reached the final of the Leinster Schools Junior Cup. The Senior Cup Team (SCT) have often reached the quarter finals of the cup, but have never made it past this stage. They have, however, won the Senior League (for middle-ranking schools) on several occasions. The school has produced a small number of professional rugby players and four Irish internationals, Tony Ensor, Barry Bresnihan (who went on to represent the British and Irish Lions), Padraig Kenny, and 2003 alumnus Kevin McLaughlin. In 2008, the SCT captured the Vinnie Murray Cup after their second time in the competition, beating Cistercian College, Roscrea 19-7. They repeated this success in 2010 defeating CBC Monkstown 11-10.

The school golf team won Leinster titles in 1999 and 2006. Previously, the team reached the semi-finals of the junior cup. In 2010, the Senior Team won the Leinster Schools Senior Matchplay competition, beating Blackrock College 3½ to 1½. They went on to win the All-Ireland Golf Championship in April 2010.

Gaelic games were not played in the past but, in recent years, a team has been entered in a Gaelic football blitz involving other rugby-playing schools. Gonzaga College won this blitz in 2007.

The school is occasionally represented by a soccer team in friendly matches, but association football is not an official sport of the school.

George Dockrell, a 2010 alumnus, is a full Irish international in cricket.


Gonzaga College has a tradition of strong chess teams which have been victorious in numerous Leinster and national championships. The junior and senior team won both the Leinster and All-Ireland Championship in 2009, a feat they repeated in 2011. In 2012, 2013 and 2014, they were Leinster and All Ireland champions at minor, junior and senior levels - an unprecedented clean sweep of Irish schools chess. Of the school chess teams' many achievements, most noteworthy was winning the prestigious Millfield International Chess Tournament in England in 1992, 1999 and 2014. Many school chess players have built on their experiences at the college and after graduating continued to greater success, including International Masters Sam Collins and Mark Quinn.


Initially the school consisted of the three Bewley buildings on the site, one being used for the school, one as a Jesuit house of residence, and one as a lunch room, changing rooms, science laboratories etc. In the 1950s Andrew Devane of Robinson Keefe Devane Architects prepared a masterplan with a school hall between the two main houses and classroom wings extending to the two main houses. The masterplan included a chapel in front of the hall and main entrance. Over the 1950s the classroom wing linked to the school house was built along with the hall and main entrance. In the 1960s the chapel was built. In the 1980s an additional wing of classrooms was constructed. The school's renovation project finished in time for the 2009-10 school year: the first stage was a complete renovation of the science facilities, while the second stage almost doubled the floor area of the school with new buildings. The extension included a new dining hall, theatre, gym changing area, and classrooms. The old school hall was completely renovated into a modern library with meeting rooms and study facilities.

Notable past pupils


Further reading

  • Parent Power: Zealous ethos drives Gonzaga to the top, The Sunday Times.
  • Archived history page from old version of the college website
  • A Short History of Gonzaga College, 1950â€"2000, Christopher J. Finlay, Dublin, September 2000, Eneclann Ltd. ISBN 978-0-9537557-1-4.

External links

  • School website
  • Gonzaga past pupils union

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