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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
Furthermore, in each year there are six classes or houses:
and formerly, but now discontinued:
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):
Within the junior school the class names were as follows: