Scoil Mhuire Buncrana



The History of the Sisters of Mercy and Scoil Mhuire in Buncrana

On 7th May 1922, four sisters from the ‘Convent of Mercy’ in Strabane took possession of ‘Rockfort House’. In 1922, Fr William Doherty, Parish Priest of Buncrana purchased ‘The Sailor’s Rest Building’ (which still stands beside the Leisure Centre) from the British Admiralty who at the time were moving out of Ireland and a temporary school was set up on 15th September 1922. Fr. Doherty (who also built ‘St Mary’s Oratory’) built a primary school in 1924 – The ‘Sacred Heart Girls’ School’. ‘St Columba’s Boys’ National School’ was opened in 1926. It replaced a small school for boys at Ballymacarry opposite the Inishowen Gateway Hotel. ‘Sacred Heart’ and ‘St Columba’s’ amalgamated in 1991 to become ‘Scoil Iosagain’.

In 1933, a Secondary Top School – ‘Scoil Mhuire’, was established in the ‘Sacred Heart’ building to cater for girls who wished to continue their education beyond Primary level. The first Principal was Sister M. Benignus McNamee (who became Mother Benignus in 1959) and she remained as Principal until 1972. Up until 1956, all subjects were taught through Irish. A Boarding school was established by Sr Benignus to cater for girls from other parts of the country who had no access to Secondary education. As the number of Sisters and pupils increased the original convent, ‘Rockfort House’ was deemed to be too small so a committee was formed to raise funds for the building of a new convent. In 1950, the Secondary Top School became a fully recognised Secondary School by the Department of Education. On 3rd September 1953, the Sisters moved into their new Convent. In 1959, a new chapel was added to the building. The original Convent (formerly ‘Rockfort House’) became known as the Boarding School. In the 1960s, fees for day pupils were £10 per term and fees for boarders were £80 per term.

In 1967, with the introduction of the ‘Free Education Scheme’, ‘Scoil Mhuire’ went co-educational catering for 100 students, both boys and girls, in prefabs in the grounds of the Primary School and in classrooms in the Boarding School. In 1970, the Sisters of Mercy embarked upon an ambitious project to build a new school for ‘Scoil Mhuire’ in Buncrana with only a 50% building grant from the Department of Education. This was achieved when the new building was opened in September 1973. In 1975, again without grant aid, the Assembly Hall was completed. A 3rd storey was added in 1983. The Boarding School was phased out between 1985 and 1990 and the original ‘Rockfort House’ was knocked down to make way for a new extension - St Joseph’s Block which was built in the early 1990s. St Catherine’s Block was officially opened in September 2012 by the Sisters of Mercy on what was to be the day that they vacated the ‘Convent of Mercy’ and their last day in Buncrana after a proud 90 year association with the town.

Sr M. Patrick Alexander, herself a former boarder, was Principal from 1972-1993 ably assisted by Vice- Principal, Mr Richard Kavanagh from 1972 until 1991. Sr M. Helena Doherty was Principal from 1993-1998. Mr Liam Rainey, a past pupil and former Scoil Mhuire teacher was appointed the first lay Principal in 1998 and he retired in 2013. Mr Richard Kavanagh’s successor, Ms Ann Bradley was Deputy Principal from 1991- 2009. Mr Cathal Davis, a former Scoil Mhuire teacher was appointed Deputy Principal in 2009. Mr Rosaleen Grant, a past pupil and former Scoil Mhuire teacher took up her position as the first female lay Principal in November 2013.

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Scoil Mhuire Buncrana,
St Oran's Road,
Co. Donegal,
F93 PN53

074 93 61065

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