You Might Like
Catholic University School
Catholic University School

Catholic University School (C.U.S.) is a private school for boys in Dublin, Ireland. The school was founded in 1867 by Cardinal John Henry Newman and Bartholomew Woodlock as a preparatory school for the Catholic University of Ireland, the predecessor to University College Dublin.[2][3]

Under the custodianship of the Marist Fathers, the school has educated Irish politicians, leading academic and literary figures, and 3 Olympic Gold medalists.[4][5]


The foundation of the Catholic University School has its basis in the Catholic Revival movement of the late 1820s. For over 250 years, the only university in Ireland had been Trinity College, Dublin – the sole constituent college of the University of Dublin. While the Trinity College, Dublin had been opened to Catholics in 1793, only a few attended.[6] Those Catholics who did were mainly educated in England at schools such as Stonyhurst College.[7]

In response, in 1850, Queen Victoria granted a Royal Charter founding three colleges of the Queen's University of Ireland. The colleges in Cork, Belfast and Galway were non-denominational. However, at the Synod of Thurles in 1850, the Catholic Church officially condemned these institutions as "Godless Colleges" and declared a need for a Catholic University.[8] Thus, the Catholic University of Ireland was founded in 1851 – though not fully established until 18 May 1854 with Cardinal John Henry Newman as its first Rector.

To ensure larger numbers of students for the new university, Dr Daniel Murray, the Archbishop of Dublin established a school at 16–17 Harcourt Street and named the school after Saint Laurence O'Toole, the patron Saint of Dublin. St. Laurence's Academy, founded in 1850, was accompanied by the establishment of Belvedere College by the Jesuits in 1832 on the north side of the city. The University, as yet, had no dedicated preparatory or feeder school.

By 1862, Dr. Bartholomew Woodlock took over as rector of the Catholic University, and suggested that the university proceed with the foundation of its own feeder school. Over time, St. Laurence's Academy developed a close relationship with the University. Woodlock was the first President of the school and professors from the University also taught in the school. The school was given a name reflecting its function: the Catholic University School.[9]

The first teachers in the school were mostly young Dublin priests who had studied at the Irish College in Rome. Among them was Dr. James Quinn, who set about enrolling students from wealthy Catholic families. Within a year the school had an enrollment of 130 students.[10] The subjects taught were classical rather than practical and included Greek, Latin, French, German, Italian and the Arts. Pope Pius XI eventually chose Quinn as the first Roman Catholic Archbishop of Brisbane, Australia – and he left the school.[11]

In the early 1860s, the finances of the Catholic University School and University were intertwined, and the rent for the Harcourt Street premises was a high £2600 per annum. Neither the school nor the University were able to cope with this burden. Archbishop of Dublin, Paul Cullen was adamant that it was not possible for C.U.S to close down even for a year – because it would be possible that the school would never open again.[12]

In 1867 both Cardinal Cullen and Woodlock travelled to Dundalk for the consecration of Michael Kiernan as Archbishop of Armagh.[13] While there, they visited the Marist College and believed that Marist administration would be beneficial to the Catholic University School. Subsequently, Cullenbrought the offer to the General Council of the Marist Fathers in Lyons in France. After a two-day petition, he convinced the Council of the benefit of taking on the Dublin school. In July 1867, Woodlock informed Cullen of the financial burden the Harcourt Street premises had been. He recommended that the Marists purchase new premises, and when 89 Lower Leeson Street became available, the Marists purchased it. The Harcourt Street site remained on as the premises for the school for a short while as refurbishments were carried out on the Leeson Street building. On 29 September 1867 the Catholic University School opened on Lower Leeson Street.[14]

Church historian and cleric Leo Chamberlain has suggested that the foundation of secondary education under Cardinal Newman was an important development in Catholic teaching in Ireland and Britain.[15] Chamberlain describes Newman's school as a Catholic Eton. He argues that Newman's aim was to provide an education to Catholic elites preparing them for University education with future leadership roles in mind.[16]


The curriculum offers over 20 subjects[17] and covers all common subjects in the State Examinations including Classical Studies, Art History, German, Art, Art history, Chemistry, Physics, Accounting and Economics.[18] Academically, the school is ranked at 30th place nationally (2016).[19][20] The pupil to teacher ratio is 9:1.[21][22] Class sizes start at around twenty in first year and can be below ten for some senior cycle subjects.[14] The Preparatory School offers the full Primary School Curriculum as well introducing pupils to music and Spanish.

School traditions

The school has a long musical history and this is displayed through the school song “Walking On” which is sometimes heard at school rugby matches, and other celebratory school events. The primary religious anthem of the school in recent years has been Dominican Magnificat, taken from The Magnificat passage in The Gospel of Luke.[23]

The school also has a long-standing connection to Society of Saint Vincent de Paul and holds an annual "hamper fund" in order to raise funds to the charity. Each year students also travel to Davao in the Philippines where they teach English to the homeless, and also help with the various Marist Missions.[24]

Historically, the school was divided into three houses; Colin, Sarsfield, and Hogan.[25] Students were placed under the supervision of a housemaster, usually a clerical member of the teaching staff. This house system fell out of use by the early 20th century.[26]


The school is located near St. Stephen's Green in Dublin. School buildings include; the Georgian buildings to the front of the school containing the Oratory and Headmasters residence, Victorian buildings, a sports hall with gym and changing rooms and the "old school" building.[22]

The school also owns a large area of land in Milltown, Co. Dublin, this is home to the school's rugby pitches and cricket field as well as the sports pavilion.[14]

School Activities

The school has a long association as a rugby school, with students participating in sports on Wednesday afternoons. Rugby and cricket take place in Bird Avenue, Milltown.[27] The school plays Cricket from Easter on. CUS participates in Schools cricket competitions in Leinster and all-Ireland level. Other sports played during summer half include Golf, Badminton, Tennis, Squash and Athletics. Three Olympic Gold Medalists have attended the school; John Pius Boland, Ronnie Delaney, and David Malone.[28] Past pupil Eoin Morgan captained the England team team to victory in the ICC 12th Cricket World Cup at Lords Cricket ground on 14 July 2019.

Students have represented Ireland at The World Schools Debating Championship. Past pupils are also listed as auditors of The Trinity College Historical and Philosophical societies.

Past Pupils Union

The CUS Union is the past pupils association of the school, founded in 1902.[17] In June 2002, the Past Pupils Union was hosted by then President of Ireland Mary McAleese at the presidential residence, Áras an Uachtaráin.[29] Former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern also spoke at the school's annual dinner in 2002.[30]

Recent guest speakers have included Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Mary Mitchell O'Connor,[31] media personality Eamon Dunphy[32] and broadcaster George Hook.[33] Former union presidents include Sir Arthur Chance – Royal Surgeon, High Court Judge Mr. Justice Richmond McLoughlin, & businessman Niall O'Farrell.

Notable alumni

Former Pupils have included:[34]

Arts, Entertainment, and Literature

Government and Politics [36]

Law, Medicine and Business [37]


Sports [38]

You Might Like