Headmaster of Glenstal Fr William Fennelly with Jack Wall O'Reilly, Daniel O'Donovan, Conan O'Sullivan, Sean Scanlon Garry and Conor Booth
HEADMASTER of Glenstal Abbey School, Fr William Fennelly, noted the word in Latin for happy is the same as blessed – beatus.
He was commenting after his alma mater was named as the country's best-performing school in the Sunday Independent School League Tables. One hundred per cent of pupils from 2009 to 2016 went on to third level. It rose from third spot in the list last year.
Laurel Hill Coláiste narrowly missed out on being named as first in the non fee paying schools list with 99%. Ardscoil Ris was seventh in Ireland with 97%.
Fr William said he was delighted but hoped that “we are about more than just league tables”.
“It’s a great school for an awful lot more reasons than league tables. Success has many different shapes and hues – it’s sporting, musical and spiritual. This is a place where boys become men of soul, that is our tag-line.
“I want them to be going off making a contribution - that is the big thing for me - that they have all those skills, not just for themselves, but for the good of others,” said Fr William, who is from the South Circular Road.
He stresses that the happiness of the boys in his care is vital.
“The word in Latin for happy is the same as the word for blessed – they are two sides of the one coin. It makes a clear and helpful link.
Fundamentally what parents are looking for is the school that suits their child best. We can all talk about results, and parents are very driven about getting results because they want them to have all the possibilities they can, but the fundamental thing is how can my child become all that he can be,” said Fr William.
The cost of seven day boarding is €18,950, while day boarding costs €11,350. The most expensive in Ireland is St Columba’s College in Dublin at €22,350.
Aedín Ní Bhriain, principal of Laurel Hill Coláiste FCJ, and Fr William have a lot in common. They are the heads of the schools they attended as teenagers and stress the importance of the formation of young people rather than a league table. Indeed, Fr William’s sisters Janet, Suzanne and Mary attended the school on the South Circular Road.
Ms Ní Bhriain said in their school the key word is “companionship”.
“That is what our founders wanted, that everyone should look out for each other – that’s what we want them to do in life as well.
“A happy student is the most important thing of all and when that comes right everything else will fall into place. What you really want for them is that they would feel a sense of happiness and where their place in society is going to be when they become young adults.
“Obviously working towards exams and being consistent is part of it. The results will hopefully come along as a result of a happy person – that is what you strive for,” said Ms Ní Bhriain. And the results are coming along.
“We’re delighted obviously but the hard work goes on like it does in every school. People give it their best and that’s all you can ask of them. It is a team effort between teachers, parents and pupils.
“It is nice when it is affirmed in the media but there is fantastic work going on in this school and in every school around this country all year round. It is great but there are so many other ways that they shine when they are in secondary school apart from results,” said Ms Ní Bhriain, who adds that it is brilliant for Limerick to see the high standards and the interest in education that is there in the city and county.
“It has always been the case but it is nice to see it highlighted,” she said.
Senator Maria Byrne also highlighted that Limerick schools have featured highly in the list detailing the best schools in Ireland on the basis of college entry.
“It is great to see Limerick schools featuring so prominently on the list of best schools in Ireland. Our local schools are achieving real success in terms of encouraging students to go on to third level education once they have completed their Leaving Certificate.
“Fine Gael in Government is prioritising education in order to secure our country’s future. The Minister for Education, Richard Bruton, has a comprehensive plan to make Ireland’s education service the best in Europe within the decade.
"The plan aims to see a 30% increase in the number of students from disadvantaged areas attending higher level as well as better supports for children in difficulty. I am glad to see Limerick schools already doing well in this regard and I hope to see this continue,” said Senator Byrne.
Limerick city and county schools: Percentage of students placed in third level 2009 – 2016:
Ardscoil Ris, North Circular Road, 97%
Ardscoil Mhuire, Corbally, 65%
Askeaton Community College, 79%
Castletroy College, 93%
Colaiste Chiarain, Croom, 70%
Colaiste Ide agus Iosaef, Abbeyfeale, 73%
Colaiste Iosaef, Kilmallock, 72%
Colaiste Nano Nagle, Limerick city, 65%
Crescent College Comprehensive, Dooradoyle, 94%
Desmond College, Newcastle West, 57%
Gaelcholaiste Luimnigh, Limerick city, 92%
Glenstal Abbey School, Murroe, 100%
Hazelwood College, Dromcollogher, 75%
John the Baptist Community School, Hospital, 88%
Laurel Hill Colaiste FCJ, South Circular Road, 99%
Laurel Hill Secondary School, South Circular Road, 90%
Mercy Community College, Rathkeale, 75%
Salesian Secondary College, Pallaskenry, 78%
Salesian Secondary School, Limerick city, 58%
Scoil Mhuire agus Ide, Newcastle West, 90%
Scoil na Trionoide Naofa, Doon, 78%
Scoil Pol, Kilfinane, 89%
Sexton Street CBS, Limerick city, 52%
St Clement’s College, Limerick city, 84%
St Munchin’s, Corbally, 82%
St Nessan’s, Moylish, 46%
Villiers Secondary School, Limerick city, 87%
(Source: Sunday Independent School League Tables)