St. Nicholas’ Schola Cantorum was founded in 2012

It is a modern reimagining of the ancient college of singers, established here in 1486 and which gives the church its special title.

In 2012, the Rector, Select Vestry and parish community decided to revive the ancient college, honouring the church’s musical heritage but in a new dynamic that reaches out to all the people of Galway. St. Nicholas Schola Cantorum secures the musical future of the church and provides an invaluable musical and educational resource in the wider community.

Its three aims are:

• the enrichment of worship
• the education of singers
• the promotion of the arts

These aims are met through the five choral ensembles that comprise the Schola Cantorum.

The Five Ensembles

Choral worship in St Nicholas’ Collegiate Church has its origins in the college of singing clerks established to serve the medieval establishment. The church was constituted as a fully independent collegiate establishment in the late fifteenth century, and a college house built for the warden and vicars choral. The musical traditions are still observed today and more depth is provided through the Five Ensembles.

Parish Choir

The Parish Choir is an adult ensemble of up to twenty-four voices and as the principal choir of St Nicholas’ Collegiate Church is one of Galway’s most established musical institutions. The choir sings regularly at the Sunday morning parish Eucharist and also sings Evensong termly.


The Choristers of St Nicholas Schola Cantorum comprise up to thirty boys and girls aged 8-14, drawn from the parish, St Nicholas’ Parochial School and the wider community. The choristers receive a unique musical education through weekly rehearsals, and singing and musicianship classes utilising the RSCM Voice for Life scheme.


The Schola Cantorum’s flagship chamber choir takes its title from the ancient designation of the church dating back to 1486. The choir comprises 16-20 singers depending on the type of project undertaken, and is made up of Galway’s finest choral singers. Most members sing in one of the Schola’s other choirs and many also sing in other Galway choral ensembles.

Vicars Choral

The Vicars Choral of St Nicholas are skilled musicians who sing with all the adult ensembles of the Schola Cantorum, assist in the training of singers, and are remunerated on a semi-professional basis. These posts have their origins in the fifteenth century Collegiate foundation, which included eight singing priests, known as vicars, whose role was to sing the daily services in the church and to train the boy choristers who sang with them

University of Galway Choral Scholars

In an exciting new link between Galway’s university and its ancient collegiate church, up to twenty NUI Galway students are awarded annual choral scholarships by the university to take part in the Schola Cantorum programme. There are annual auditions for potential scholars at the beginning of the academic year, and successful candidates then join a small high-achieving chamber ensemble which rehearses twice weekly

Mark Duley

Organist and Director of Music
Mark has been organist at St Nicholas’ since 2006, and director of the Schola Cantorum since its founding in 2012. He is one of Ireland’s most well-known choral specialists, and is the founder-director of the chamber choir Resurgam. A busy freelance career includes leading workshops and masterclasses for choirs and conductors in Ireland, the UK, and continental Europe. Mark is a New Zealander, and studied at Auckland University followed by postgraduate studies at the North German Organ Academy and Amsterdam’s Sweelinck Conservatorium, where he was an organ pupil of Jacques van Oortmerssen. Mark came to Ireland in 1992 and has held several major posts in the country, including organist and director of music at Christ Church Cathedral Dublin, chorusmaster to the RTÉ Philharmonic Choir and artistic director of the Irish Baroque Orchestra.
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