Salesian College Celbridge began in temporary premises on Primrose Hill with 55 pupils welcomed by Fr Tony McEvoy and John Staunton in September 1981. The permanent building was opened four years later on 6 May 1985 at Moortown, on the Maynooth Road, by then Minister for Finance Alan Dukes, and blessed by Bishop Donal Murray of Dublin.
Woodwork, metalwork, mechanical drawing, engineering, construction studies and art ensured a comprehensive curriculum with the full range of academic, commercial and scientific subjects. Students have successfully taken part in the Young Scientist Exhibition.
In 1999 Fr Dan Carroll and Mark Ryan started a learning support centre for students with difficulties ranging from very severe learning problems to those who found it difficult to cope with the demands of the academic.
P.E., games and athletics played a big part in creating the spirit of the school. The annual Road Race became a permanent feature as students and staff vied with each other to run the almost 5 km course in record time. Mark Kenneally won the Fr Archer cup each of his five years in the school and went on to run the Men’s marathon at the 2012 London Olympic Games coming 57th.
In the GAA field several pupils were selected for local and county teams, Paul Casey, Mick Wright, Paddy Brophy to name but a few. The school’s senior soccer squad qualified for the World Schoolboy Competition in Lima, Peru in 1997 and brought home the Coca Cola trophy for Fair Play.
Drama and music added its own spice to the school ethos with a Slogadh-winning play in Irish, a joint Wolstans-Salesians performance of the musical ‘Grease’, while actor George McMahon who won a BAFTA, singer-songwriter, musician and record producer Damien Rice, and Bell X1’s Paul Noonan, David Geraghty, Dominic Phillips and former member Brian Crosby, put the college name in lights.
Students play an active part in their own education. The Cinnirí team of Leaving Cert pupils provides leadership by carrying out responsibilities and duties in the day to day running of the school while the Ceangail group runs an Induction programme, a “First Year Night-In” and offers advice, guidance, good influence and a friendly face for the first year students in the school.
Past pupils returned as teachers include Kieran McManaman, John Leonard and Colin Cryan. Principals who followed Fr Tony McEvoy were Fr Dan Carroll in 1995 and his successor Ms Brenda Kearns in 2010. Over the college’s forty years deputy Principals were John Staunton, Dominic McEvoy, Martin Kerins and John Leonard.
At the turn of the millennium, a Garden of Remembrance, recalling students and past pupils who had already died since the school began, was opened in an inner school courtyard, with support and sponsorship from local businesses. Deceased past pupils of the college currently number around 40.
Over the years the school facilities have been availed of by the Salesians 19th Kildare Scouts, various football teams, athletic associations, Club na nÓg, the Salesian English Language Course with its annual influx of Spanish and Italian teenagers who lodged with local families during their summer sojourn in Celbridge, the annual 16 week Soccer Skills for Fun in the summer, and the Celbridge Gospel Choir.
To mark Celbridge 40, the Anniversary Committee has arranged a Bursary for Sixth Years 2020-2021 to the value of €1,000.00 sponsored by the Trustees (the Salesians of Don Bosco) and the Salesian College Parents Association, to support the third level education and training of the Award winner. Also planned are a musical event and a dinner dance for past pupils and staff (subject to review), 40th Anniversary awards, and special guest speakers.