St Nicholas Collegiate Church Galway

Schola Cantorum

The Collegiate Church of St Nicholas in Galway is one of Ireland’s most important medieval buildings, and Galway’s most prized tourist destination. In 1486 a college of singing priests was established at the church, responsible for singing the daily services and for educating boy choristers to sing with them.

A new millennium demands new ideas. Wishing to honour a unique heritage whilst meeting challenges and opportunities of the future, the Rector, Select Vestry and parish community of St Nicholas have decided to revive the ancient college in the form of the St Nicholas Schola Cantorum.

This new initiative walks in the footsteps of the church’s fifteenth century establishment but in a new dynamic that reaches out to all the people of Galway. Under the direction of St Nicholas’ organist and well-known choral specialist Mark Duley, it will provide valuable instruction and rewarding experience to people of all ages, whilst securing the musical future of the church and providing an invaluable musical and educational resource in the parish and wider community.


The three principal aims of the Schola Cantorum are:

  • Enriching worship
  • Educating singers
  • Promoting the arts


In its first year (beginning September 2012) the board of the Schola will establish three new ensembles – Choristers, Choral Scholars and St Nicholas’ Singers. These groups will form constituent parts of the Schola alongside the existing parish choir.


Up to 24 children aged 8-14, drawn from the parish, St Nicholas’ Parochial School and the wider community The choristers of the Schola Cantorum will receive a unique musical education through weekly singing and musicianship classes utilizing the RSCM Voice for Life scheme. The choristers will participate frequently as a choir in the Sunday morning parish liturgy, bringing to it new styles of music and worship. They will sing at other special occasions, and also take part in an annual summer singing camp. Choristerships will be awarded on the basis of a simple short audition. The first audition session will take place in early September 2012. For further information, please contact: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Choral Scholars

20 NUI Galway students, awarded annual choral scholarships by the university The choral scholars of the Schola Cantorum will be auditioned annually, rehearsed twice weekly, and provide both church and university with a first-class chamber ensemble specializing in the greatest music from the church’s centuries-old musical heritage. The scholarships offer promising young singers first-rate training and the opportunity for music-making at a high level of engagement and achievement. The choral scholars in turn will provide the church with a smaller highly-rehearsed ensemble alongside the parish choir, allowing for additional choral services and new types of repertoire within the church’s liturgical life. This development represents an exciting new link between Galway’s university and its ancient collegiate church. Auditons for scholarships for the 2012-213 academic year will take place in late September 2012. For further information, please contact: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

St Nicholas Singers

A large all-comers group drawn from the wider Galway region, city and county This group will meet twice a year, and over the course of a weekend learn a major work appropriate to the liturgical season and perform it in concert. The rehearsals will incorporate instruction on vocal and choral technique and introduce people of all ages and abilities to the church’s special musical heritage. The Singers’ first project is planned for Autumn 2012. Further information: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Future plans for the Schola Cantorum include the establishment of an organ scholarship in partnership with Galway Cathedral, the spearheading of a campaign to raise funds for a new organ for the church, the development of a wide-ranging arts programme featuring the church’s own musicans and also drawing from the local, national and international arts community, and the creation of an auditioned project-based chamber choir to perform major liturgical works as part of that programme.