Castle Park was founded in 1904 as a private school by W. P. Toone who handed over the School to Donald Pringle in 1938. After his death, the ownership passed to a limited company with charitable status in 1965 and has since then been administered by a Board of Directors. The Board membership has tended to include current and recent parents. Since 1970 Castle Park has been co-educational and is now entirely a day School.
On Tuesday 29th March 1904, the Irish Times announced that a castellated Dalkey residence, set in thirty-four acres, had been sold for the sum of £4,070. In September 1904, an unknown Englishman, Mr Wilfred P Toone founded Castle Park as a private School for boys, with an initial enrolment of 20 pupils. In the archives, there are stories about the great respect that pupils had for Mr Toone – he reputedly commanded undivided attention at his Friday morning assemblies. The School continued to grow through the twenties and thirties with accounts of the occasional skirmish on the grounds in the troubled years from 1916 to 1923. During the Second World War, an air raid siren was erected in the Tower and the basement was used as a shelter.
To help the war effort, one of the playing fields was given over to growing vegetables and the house gardens were filled with lettuces, tomatoes etc. Despite all of this the School routines went on as normal and pupil numbers grew to capacity with nearly 70 boarders. In 1940 the cricket pavilion was built and Mr Toone handed over the School to Mr Donald Pringle in 1938. Many years later, a few years after Mr Pringle’s death, the private ownership was passed to a charitable trust.
In 1953 the School changed its crest to a distinct quartered design, with one quarter each for the family crests of Mr Wilfred Toone and Mr Donald Pringle. The remaining two quarters comprised a symbolic picture of a Castle and an open book to display learning. The School motto was printed underneath – Mens Sana in Corpore Sano (a healthy mind in a healthy body). In early 2017, a decision was made by the Board of Directors to modernise the School logo to the simplistic current version, which displays the symbolic Castle on an open book.
The early 1960s were marked by the passing of both Mr Toone and Mr Pringle. Mr Palmer Carter became headmaster in 1962 and the pool, dining hall, kitchen, main classroom wing and Headmaster’s house were constructed.
In 1967, Castle Park School became a charitable trust. Sibling girls were admitted in the early 1970s and in 1975 the School officially became co-educational, which in 1977 led to the Castle Park Old Boys’ Society becoming the Old Cepians’ Society, In 1979, 75 years after its foundation, there were 116 pupils registered, of which 27 were girls. In 1989, Mr Carter retired and Mr Carl Collings became headmaster. Mr Collings’ arrival coincided with the opening of the Montessori department (now the Early Years Department). In 1991 he oversaw the merger with Brook House School and introduced Ross House in honour of the founder of Brook House, Mr Peter Ross. In 1994 new changing rooms were added with additional classrooms. Boarding ended in 1998 as a consequence of the reduced demand from parents for such provision. After 15 years at the helm, Mr Collings left Castle Park in July 2004 and the current Headmaster took over. As a mark of gratitude to Mr Collings, in 2017 Ross House became known as Collings House.
The School’s Centenary Development Plan, 2004, reviewed the School and its position in the Irish educational context, and it was decided to renew all of the school buildings to provide unrivalled indoor educational and sports facilities, and at the same time, redevelop the outdoor amenities of this wonderful fifteen-acre campus. The outstanding new facilities were opened in September 2008 and today’s pupils enjoy a world-class educational facility. The resources continue to develop with the upgrading of the ICT network and the inclusion of a suite of iMacs for multi-media studies and access to iPads for all pupils.
The past pupils association of Castle Park School is known as the Old Cepians’ Society. It was formerly known as The Old Boys’ Society but was renamed in 1977 to the Old Cepians’ Society following the move to co-education in 1975. Today the Society comprises past pupils who automatically join the Society on leaving the School from Form VI. The School maintains a database of Old Cepian’s contact details, and former pupils are encouraged to ensure that the School is informed if these details change.
Old Cepians are always welcome to visit the School (by appointment) and are openly invited to attend the afternoon of the annual CP Day celebrations on 15th March. The School is also open to visitors on Parents and Sports Day which takes place towards the end of the summer term. Please contact the School Office for further details if you would like to attend.