Ah lads, this thread has made me laugh immensely! Most people on here will give you a very biased opinion and clearly its very difficult to find the perfect school.
Nearly every school can accomodate "gifted" children, every school has some bullying of one for or another and its partly school but also parental advice that allows for a well rounded student. Yes some schools get more 600 pointers than others but that doesn;t mean they won't get 600 points elsewhere.
OP, whats wrong with Colaiste Phobail Beanntrai? More or less non religious (i.e. VEC own it, bishop has a rep on the BOM but lot less religious than pres or CBS) or schull where they always get a few awards at annual VEC ceremony.
Ballincollig seems to get passed over, fine schools such as Colaiste Choilm, BCS or Coachford College, all of which have a great track record of 600 pointers but also good rounded education. Or Midleton with Carrigtwohill as a previously great school. Kinsale seems to do very well in young scientist exhibition each year and don't forget Kanturk who got a 600 pointer in Colaiste Treasa last year.
There appears to be a strange perception that schools in the city that are single sex must be better, sometimes its reputation, sometimes it could be plain snobbery. I personally don't understand why people pay out 1000s each year on a school where the same education can be acquired free down the road.
I am very curious about gifted though. I get parents rolling into my office saying their kids are gifted but to be honest, anytime a parent says that, the child is far from gifted. Its the quiet parents that seem to always have the gifted kids.
In my opinion the fee paying schools do provide better facilities for learning.
Just by glancing at the websites this is clear.
Better classrooms, science labs and sports areas.
They also keep out the "rougher element" by charging fees.
Teachers may not be any better qualified or able, but the environment to do better is present in fee paying schools.
The recent league tables would also suggest this.
I didn't go to a private school and I did ok but If I could afford it I would spend the money on the kids education