College Oratory

The student enrolment, and particularly boarders, gradually increased at the end of the forties and into the fifties. To provide extra accommodation, Canon James Colleran proposed building a new oratory on the ground floor and converting the existing College Oratory on the ground floor into two classrooms. The proposal was put to the priests at the diocesan retreat in the College in 1954 (the Marian Year) and the project was undertaken.


There was a very generous response to a diocesan collection in all the parishes for the New Chapel. An Oratory with accommodation for about 220 students and a cloister where the growing staff of priests could celebrate private Masses was designed by Noel R. De Chenu and John O’Reillly Architects, bill of qualities prepared by Padraig Mulcahy, Merrion Square, Dublin and building was completed by Kelly and Sons (Builders) Westport in 1957.


One detail worthy of note was the Stations of the Cross designed in oak by Walkinstown artist Mr. John Haugh. The main altar was dedicated to the memory of Canon Hugh O’Donnell who was president from 1911 to 1920. The seating (pews) was supplied by O’ Huigin Teo. Galway. At the same time a new sanitary building and water tower were built in the garden at the entrance to the football field and grounds.


In the sixties the then president, Fr. Thomas Fleming, built a recreation hall and an assemble hall cum theatre. The project, designed by Brendan P. Geffers Architects Dublin, was considered too costly and so was modified. A large recreation hall with elaborate features such as dipped tiled ceiling, copper roof and ornate masonry gable ends was built by James Faragher of Tuam. The architects were John C. Thompson and Company, O’Connell St. Limerick and the Consultant Engineers were Lyons, Boland and McArdle. The hall was nearing completion when Fr. Fleming died unexpectedly in March 1965 and it came into use for the first time as centres for the Leaving and Intermediate Examinations in June 1965. The revisions and modifications that were carried out during the construction phase caused many delays and problems and inflated the costs.


Subsequently the hall was used for projecting films, as a visitor’s reception area and for recreation with chess, tennis and recorded music. The old recreation hall and boot room became a shoe locker room. The lockers were heated and ventilated and intended for change of shoes and for drying football togging gear. A washroom equipped with showers, foot baths and hand basins was built adjacent to the old boot room. A new exit to the yard and direct assess to the Recreation Hall was opened through the end room in the old building which had functioned as a tuck shop and classroom. Along the connecting corridor and along the Recreation Hall gable an ambulatory was provided.