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Belvedere College

Belvedere College SJ is a private secondary school for boys located on Great Denmark Street, Dublin, Ireland. It is also known as St. Francis Xavier's College

One of Ireland's oldest schools, Belvedere was founded in 1832. The school currently has in excess of 930 pupils enrolled and has a number of famous alumni in the world of the arts, politics, sport, science and business.

George Augustus Rochfort (1738-1814), who became the Second Earl of Belvedere in 1774, built Belvedere House, one of the most dominant buildings on the school's campus and best surviving examples of Georgian architecture in Ireland. The interior decoration of Belvedere House was carried out by Michael Stapleton, the leading craftsman of his time.

Jesuit ethos

Belvedere College is run by the Jesuit order. Most of the school's current teaching staff are now lay-persons, although a number of Jesuit priests and brothers take part in the school's administration and chaplaincy.

The Jesuit ethos of social justice for all and educating "men for others" are keystones of the Belvedere College culture and education philosophy. The school recently celebrated the 500th birthday of the patron saint of the college, St. Francis Xavier.

Charitable activities

The school has a wide range of charitable activities for its students. For example, some students travel with the annual Dublin Diocesan Pilgrimage to Lourdes, France to assist the elderly and the disabled; others take part in an exchange programme with students of Saint Xavier's Collegiate School, Calcutta, India, where they assist in homes for orphans and street-children. Belvedere's St. Vincent de Paul Society is one of the largest of any secondary school in Ireland, organising activities such as old-folks events and flat decoration in inner city Dublin. Since 1981, certain students also undertake a charity walk from Dublin to Galway every summer in order to raise funds for Irish Guide Dogs For The Blind and The Temple Street Children's Hospital (which is located near the school). In the past, the "block-pull", as it is known, has raised over €70,000 in a single event.

An annual charitable fundraising event held by the College is the "Belvedere Sleep-Out", which takes place from December 22 to 24th each year. Students "go homeless" on Dublin's O'Connell Street for 3 days and 2 nights. The Sleep-Out is run primarily by students from the College, with the assistance of a number of teachers, to raise funds for Focus Ireland, The Home Again Society and Father Peter McVerry's Society for homeless boys. The students fast for 24 hours of the Sleep-Out. The culmination of the event is Christmas Eve midnight mass, in the college chapel. In the past, the college has managed to raise over €137,000 in a single Christmas period for the charities.

Belvedere College has an active alumni association - the Belvedere College Past Pupils' Union, the aim of which is to encourage social interchange among Belvederians and to promote the aims of the Society to which the College belongs. The Union has a number of sub-committees including the Belvedere Youth Club, which provides social, recreational and educational facilities for youth in the Dublin city centre area, and Belvedere Social Services, which provides housing for young vulnerable homeless boys who would otherwise be at grave risk, and facilitates them with opportunities for training and employment.


Under Irish law, school entrance exams are prohibited. Potential students and their parents now undergo an interview with a faculty member. Preference is given to brothers of current Belvedere students and the sons of Old Belvederians. Although private and therefore fee-paying, the school awards a number of full scholarships each year (around 10-15% of the overall student number) in furtherance of the school's aim to be socially just. It is not an academic scholarship or it is not a sports scholarship. The scholarship is designed to assist those families who are not in a position to pay fees.


Extensive facilities at the school include a swimming pool, gymnasium, state-of-the-art science and technology block, modern restaurant, refectory, music suite, learning resource centre, museum, chapel, oratory, theatre (which has the biggest stage of any school in Ireland), rooftop astro-turf pitch, tennis courts and rugby, cricket and soccer pitches (located on the Distillery Road in Drumcondra, Dublin and on the Navan Road in Cabra, Dublin).

Belvdere College S.J. has installed one of the most sophisticated computer systems of any Irish school. Driven by an extremely computer-literate staff the college has many interactive white boards,3 computer labs, cabled and wireless networking to every classroom and many other IT features including dedicated networks for the library, Special Education, Careers, Music and Art. In 2006 Belvedere won the All Ireland RoboCup and represented Ireland in Bremen, Germany, where the team won 'The Best Poster Award'. In 2007 the College were runners-up in the same competition.


Belvedere College has a strong rugby union football tradition. In 2005, for the first time in the school's history, they won both the Leinster Junior Cup and Leinster Senior Cup. Only Blackrock College (65) have won the Leinster Senior Cup more times than Belvedere (10). They are the current holders of the Leinster Senior Cup, after beating St. Mary's College by one point in the thrilling 2008 final

Cricket has also, traditionally, been a strong sport within the school. Belvedere has won both the Leinster Senior and Junior Cups more times than any other Leinster school.

Belvedere's Lifesaving club is also very successful, with a number of All-Ireland Titles to their credit and students have successfully represented Ireland at International Lifesaving Competitions.

Basketball has also become a prominent sport in the school, with the under-19 team reaching the All-Ireland Championships and finishing third in 2002.

Athletics is another strong sport within the school. Belvedere are the current holder of the All-Ireland schools senior track and field trophy and have won the title for each of the past seven years. They are also the holders of numerous other titles at Leinster and West Leinster levels. Field sports are the traditional strength of the school.

1996 saw Belvedere win the Dublin Metropolitan Schools Soccer Cup defeating schools with a much stronger soccer history. The final saw them face Tallaght CS which can count Irish Internationals Robbie Keane and Jason Gavin among its alumni. The team subsequently went on to win the Leinster title that year also.

Other Co-Curricular Activities

Belvedere has numerous co-curricular and cultural activities.

The school has debating societies in the English, Irish and French languages. Belvedere has won the All-Ireland schools debating competition on a number of occasions (most recently in 2005) and also the Alliance Française debating championship.

Belvedere was successful in the last ever series of Blackboard Jungle, a popular television programme on RTÉ.

The school's Concert Choir has been in existence for many years. The Choir hosts the Annual Christmas Carol Service in December, and the Annual Musical Evening, which usually takes place in May. The Choir have undertaken recordings in RTÉ, and have been successful at both the Feis Ceoil and the Wesley Feis.

The College orchestra, which is only in its second year, has won events at both the Wesley Feis and the Feis Ceoil.


Drama productions form an integral part of Belvedere's year. Each academic year, there are four performances: A Junior Musical, a Senior Musical, a Drama Society production, and a first year play. Ths school has produced, amongst others, the Irish premieres of both Les Misérables (the school edition), in 2004 and the stage adaptation of Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials, in 2007. Other productions of note include Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber Of Fleet Street, Bugsy Malone, David Copperfield, Aladdin, Jesus Christ Superstar, The Wind In The Willows, Prince Caspian and The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, Treasure Island and The Hobbit.


The promotion of Science has become a priority for Belvedere's Board of Management. Over € 7 million has been invested in the Dargan-Maloney Science and technology block. Dr Garret FitzGerald an Old Belvederian and Senior Faculty Member of the University of Pennsylvania(an Ivy League School,& The First Medical School in The U.S.)has instituted an annual five-week scholarship to two students who excel in Transition Year science.

Culture of Belvedere

The school motto is Per Vias Rectas translating as "By Straight Paths" and the College aspires to produce "Men for Others". Students often write "AMDG" the motto of the Society of Jesus, ie: Ad maiorem Dei gloriam, on the top left of pages of their copybooks. This translates as "For the greater glory of God". Until recently the students would write "LDSetBVM" or Laus Deus Semper et Beatum Virginum Maria (Love God forever and the Blessed Virgin Mary) on the bottom right of the same page, but this practice has largely died out. Yet the writing of AMDG in copybooks is still practised today.

The unofficial school anthem, often heard at rugby matches, is "Only In God", based on Psalm 62 in the Bible. The song was first sung at rugby matches during the 1995 and 1996 Senior Cup Campaigns. The official anthem is less popular, entitled "Belvedere, Oh Belvedere" it was composed by a past pupil and recorded by the school choir in 1997.

The school yearbook is known as "The Belvederian". The term Belvederian is also sometimes used to refer to attending students and Old Belvederian (OB) for alumni. Old Belvederians normally refer to their graduation by using the name of the final year in the college followed by the year as, for example, "OB 1984".

Belvedere College is the backdrop for much of James Joyce's novel A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. It is a semi-autobiographical piece of work, and the teacher was based on Joyce's own English teacher, George Dempsey. In the book Joyce mentions his involvement in the College Opera which continues today. The College's Dramatic Society performs four times during the academic year.

A museum and archive was opened in 2002 dedicated to the history of Belvedere College and its alumni.

Wartime Contribution

Belvedere, like many other schools in Ireland made a significant contribution to the effort of the two major world wars. Over 48 students of the college lost their lives in the First World War. Their names are listed on a new memorial in the College yard. The college also published a book entitled "The Cruel Clouds of War", which is a Roll of Honour listing Belvedere's war dead. The new war memorial was unveiled by former Taoiseach Dr. Garret Fitzgerald in 2003. 14 Students of Belvedere died between 1939 and 1945 in the Second World War. These are also listed on a memorial in the yard. One Old Belvederian has been awarded the Victoria Cross, Tom Crean VC during the Boer War.

School academic structure

In Belvedere the years and classes are divided in a non standard way, reflecting the Jesuit ethos of the school and the steps towards full education. At the beginning of the academic year 2007-2008, the names of the years were changed and are now the same as other Jesuit schools in Ireland.

Secondary School:

  • First Year: Elements
  • Second Year: Rudiments
  • Third Year: Grammar
  • Fourth Year: Syntax
  • Fifth Year: Poetry
  • Sixth Year: Rhetoric
  • Discontinued Seventh Year: Philosophy, taught to those who were too young to attend University.

Furthermore, in each year there are six classes or houses:

  • Loyola (L) - after St. Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Society of Jesus.
  • Aylmer (A) - after Fr. Charles Aylmer, a former Headmaster of the school.
  • Xavier (X) - after St. Francis Xavier, the famous Jesuit missionary to India and Japan, and the school's patron.
  • Kenney (K) - after Fr. Tom Kenney SJ, an early Belvedere rector.
  • Finlay (F) - after Fr. George Finlay SJ, the first rector of the school, often known as the "second founder" of Belvedere.
  • Scully (S) - after Fr. Tom Scully SJ, former Physics teachers in Belvedere.

and formerly, but now discontinued:

  • Dempsey (D) - after George Dempsey, James Joyce's English teacher

So, if a student is placed in Loyola form in first year, he is in Elements Loyola, or EL. He will stay in Loyola until he graduates, from Rhetoric Loyola, or RL.

The college's preparatory house, too, had its own naming conventions. The house was composed of the four years of school following first holy communion:

Primary School (now closed):

  • Third Class: Elements (Ele)
  • Fourth Class: Rudiments (Rud)
  • Fifth Class: Third Grammar (3G)
  • Sixth Class: Second Grammar (2G)

Within the junior school the class names were as follows:

  • Elements - Clonard and Durrow (previously Knights and Warriors)
  • Rudiments - Tara and Kells (previously Lions and Tigers)
  • Third Grammar - Ulster, Munster and Connaught (previously Pilots, Explorers and Scouts)
  • Second Grammar - Xavier, Aylmer and Loyola (previously Falcons, Hawks and Eagles)

Notable alumni

Art & literature

Irish history & politics



Business & professional



  • Sir John Edmund Barry
  • Sir Francis Cruise MD DI KSG.
  • Rev Sir John R O’Connell KCSG, LLD, MA, MRIA.
  • General Sir Martin Dillon KCB, GCB.
  • Sir Edward Eyre KCSG.
  • Sir John Mooney KBE, JP.
  • Major Sir Christoper Nixon Bart, DL, DSO. Born 1877.
  • Sir Michael Hogan, Chief Justice of Hong Kong
  • Sir John Bowes Griffin QC, Chief Justice of Uganda.
  • Sir Anthony O'Reilly - see above -
  • Sir Terry Wogan - see above -
  • The Rt. Hon Lord Chief Baron Palles PC.
  • Sir James Comyn QC. Born in Dublin 1921, Died in Navan 1997. High Court Judge

See also

External links


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