Midleton College Headmasters

  • Rev George Chinnery Snr. (1717-1750)
  • Rev George Chinnery Jnr. (1750-1775)
  • Rev James Reid (1775-1799)
  • Rev Richard Grier (1799-1830)
  • Mr John Turpin (1830-1847)
  • Rev Edward Hodgins (1847-1863)
  • Rev Thomas Moore (1863-1882)
  • Rev Albert Burd (1882-1898)
  • Mr Robert Graham (1898-1901)
  • Rev George Baker (1901-1912)
  • Rev Robert Parker (1912-1919)
  • Dr Arthur Layng (1920-1928)
  • Mr Timothy West (1928-1960)
  • Mr James Smyth (1960-1981)
  • Mr Brian Cairns (1981-2003)
  • Mr Simon Thompson (2003-2014)
  • Dr Edward Gash (2014-present)


A Storied Foundation: Established in 1696 by Elizabeth Villiers, a favorite of King William, Midleton College began its journey in a handsome limestone building, still in use today. The first pupils were welcomed in 1717, under the leadership of Rev. George Chinnery, a Trinity graduate.

Early Leadership: The initial years saw energetic leadership from the Chinnery family, with the father-son duo guiding the College from 1717 to 1775. A period of decline followed, with a temporary cessation of teaching from 1804 to 1830.

Victorian Revival: Repaired in 1829, the College found new life in the Victorian era. Two key extensions, still in use, were added, marking a prosperous phase in Midleton’s history. Challenges arose with the advent of Irish nationalism and new educational competition, but the College adapted and endured.

Twentieth Century Transformation: The appointment of Timothy West as Headmaster in 1928 spurred a revival in both academic and sporting prowess. Successive headmasters, including James Smyth in 1960 and Brian Cairns in 1981, contributed to modernizing and expanding the curriculum and facilities. The Tercentenary was celebrated with the opening of the Jameson Institute for the Teaching of the Natural Sciences, and further advancements included the addition of a generously funded Computer Centre by former pupil Samir Naji.

Building for the Future: The latter half of the twentieth century was marked by ambitious construction as Midleton College sought to keep pace with the changing landscape of Irish education. The latest addition, the Trevor West Sport Hall, reflects our ongoing commitment to excellence in sports facilities.

Legacy of Leadership and Alumni: Over its 300-year history, Midleton College has been guided by only 17 Headmasters. Its legacy is further enriched by distinguished alumni, including:

  • Isaac Butt, founder of the Irish Home Rule Party
  • John Philpott Curran, renowned lawyer
  • Rev W.S. Green, natural scientist
  • Edward Hincks, orientalist
  • Standish O’Grady, literary pioneer
  • Samir Naji, computer specialist
  • Rachael Kohler, international hockey player

A Living History: The rich tapestry of Midleton College’s history continues to inspire its present and future. The values and vision forged over centuries continue to shape an institution dedicated to excellence in education and personal development.


Notable Alumni of Midleton College

The proud tradition of Midleton College extends to the remarkable achievements of its alumni. Over the centuries, our graduates have contributed significantly to various fields, leaving a lasting impact both in Ireland and around the world. Here are some notable figures:

Politics and Law:

  • Isaac Butt (1813–1879): Founder of the Home Rule League and influential barrister and Member of Parliament.
  • Charles Robert Barry (1823–1897): Renowned politician and judge; served as Solicitor-General for Ireland.
  • Sir James Cotter, 1st Baronet (1714–1770): Distinguished member of the Irish House of Commons.
  • John Philpot Curran (1750–1817): Notable orator, politician, lawyer, and judge; served as Master of the Rolls in Ireland.
  • Sir Edward Sullivan, 1st Baronet (1822–1885): Held multiple key positions including Solicitor General for Ireland, Attorney General for Ireland, Master of the Rolls, and Lord Chancellor of Ireland.
  • Barry Yelverton, 1st Viscount Avonmore (1736–1805): Esteemed politician and judge.

Military and Public Service:

  • Reginald Dyer (1864–1927): Indian Army officer best known for his role in the Jallianwala Bagh massacre in Amritsar. This controversial figure’s actions continue to be the subject of historical debate and scrutiny.
  • Sir Francis Spring (1849–1933): Civil engineer and member of the Imperial Legislative Council of British India.

Academia and Scholarship:

  • Edward Hincks (1792–1866): Renowned clergyman and Assyriologist.
  • George Green Loane (1865–1945): Respected classical scholar and schoolmaster.
  • Louis Claude Purser (1854–1932): Classical scholar of distinction.
  • Michael Roberts (1817–1882): Mathematician and academic at Trinity College, Dublin.
  • William Spotswood Green (1847–1919): Renowned naturalist, oceanographer and Fisheries Inspector of Ireland.
  • Alan R. White (1922–1992): Philosopher known for his intellectual contributions.
  • Trevor West (1938–2012): Academic and member of Seanad Éireann for Dublin University.

Religious Leaders:

  • William Fitzgerald (1814–1883): Church of Ireland Bishop of Killaloe.
  • George Tyrrell (1861–1909): Influential Jesuit priest.
  • William Armstrong Russell (1821–1879): Anglican Bishop of North China.

Sports and Entertainment:

  • Ben Mitchell (born 1994): Professional rugby footballer.
  • Dave O’Callaghan (born 1990): Rugby footballer known for his athletic prowess.
  • Clive Ross (born 1989): Esteemed rugby footballer.
  • Rachael Kohler: International hockey player celebrated for her skills and contributions to the sport.
  • James Ezeonu: International athlete and Irish 110m hurdle champion.

Literary and Cultural Figures:

  • Michael McCarthy (1864–1928): Lawyer and author known for his literary works.
  • Standish O’Grady (literary pioneer): Literary figure celebrated for his pioneering efforts.
  • John O’Mahony (1815–1877): Gaelic scholar and founding member of the Fenian Brotherhood.

Other Notable Figures:

  • Samir Naji (computer specialist): Contributed significantly to the field of computer science.

These illustrious individuals reflect the diverse and broad range of opportunities that Midleton College offers its students. Our alumni continue to inspire current and future generations as they lead in their respective fields, embodying the values and principles instilled through their education at Midleton College.