Budding Bards @ St Catherine’s College.


The creative achievements by St Catherine’s College Key Stage 3 pupils in Speaking and Writing have been recognised both in the recent Inspection and in local and national competitions. Inspired by voices from the past, pupils challenge themselves to develop voices for the future by a range of events and clubs: the School Council, Poetry Week, Shakespeare Day, Scribblers Creative Writing Club and Readers Anonymous, the school's fun extra-curricular library club. 

Amy McGleenan and Emer Rooney, both year 9 pupils and members of Scribblers, successfully showcased their creative talents in external competitions: Amy was awarded 3rd place in the prestigious All Ireland Patrick Kavanagh Poetry Writing Competition.  Amy and her parents were invited to a celebration evening where she recited her winning entry, ‘Winter’.

Emer was one of ten pupils short-listed for excellent creative writing in a national writing challenge, the National Literacy Trust’s Descriptosaurus Challenge.  Her entry ‘Winter White’ was chosen out of 5,000 entries and she received a personal letter from award-winning author Alison Wilcox. Emer’s winning piece has been published in the National Literacy Writing Gallery online.

Writer-in-waiting Alice Gallagher, year 8, scooped the ALL-SCHOOLS Poetry Week Award. Alice and the other winners attended the celebration evening in November at the Navan Fort Centre.

Budding bard, Alex Connolly was Runner-Up in the national Poetry Aloud 2013 Competition.  Alex recited several poems and was awarded a cash prize, together with books and a certificate.  The final of the competition took place on December 6th in the National Library of Ireland. 

Amy McGleenan, a year 9 student at Saint Catherine’s College, was awarded 3rd place in the prestigious All Ireland Patrick Kavanagh Poetry Writing Competition. Her winning entry was entitled ‘Winter’. Amy is pictured here with Mrs Sheila McCoubrey, Head of English.

Pictured with Mrs Helen Donnelly (English Department) are Saint Catherine’s College Year 8 poetry writing winners:  l/r: Sarah McCann, Hannah Moore, Alice Gallagher and Ellie Traynor. Alice scooped the ALL-SCHOOLS Poetry Week Award.

Alex Connolly, a year 9 student at Saint Catherine’s College, was Runner-Up in the national Poetry Aloud 2013 Competition. Congratulations also to Alex’s classmates, Hannah McLernon, who got through to the semi-finals, and Sophie Doran, who got as far as the regional heat in Belfast. Alex is pictured here with Mrs Monique Rennie (English Department).


Emer Rooney was one of ten pupils short-listed for excellent creative writing in the National Literacy Trust’s Descriptosaurus Challenge.  Emer is pictured with Mrs Sheila McCoubrey, Head of English in Saint Catherine’s College.


Colourful Shakespearean characters kept P7 visitors guessing on Saint Catherine’s College Open Night. Students from the A-level English class are pictured here with p7 visitors and staff from the English Department in the school.


Saint Catherine’s College School Council members explain their work to p7 pupils on Open Night. Harpist Clodagh Hart entertained visitors while Head of Year 14, Mrs Edel Mckenna looks on.

Outstanding School

Verdict of Recent eti Inspection in Saint Catherine’s College –

“The quality of education provided by this school is outstanding.”(eti)


(Click above to read full report)

        In November 2013,a team of eti inspectors spent a week in the school monitoring lessons and examining procedures. They also carried out extensive interviews with staff, pupils, governors and parents. Schools are rated on a 6-point scale ranging from Unsatisfactory to Outstanding and St. Catherine’s College was deemed Outstanding in each of the six areas inspected!


Area 1: Achievements and Standards – Outstanding!

“By the end of KS3, KS4 and post-16, the pupils obtain excellent standards”. (eti)


       The inspectors found thatThe school fosters an atmosphere of openness, enquiry and intellectual challenge to support pupils’ development as knowledgeable and reflective individuals.”

        The report also referred to “the high achievement of pupils” derived from scrutiny of the data on public examination results- “Standards in almost all of the GCSE subjects are more than ten percentage points above the N.I. average.”



Area 2: Learning, Teaching and Assessment – Outstanding!

“vibrant and inspirational teaching leading to engaged and sustained learning.” (eti)


The inspectors commented on “teachers’ excellent planning” and saw evidence that “teachers use pastoral and performance data adeptly.” They also commended them for “excellent use of ICT to enhance learning and teaching.” The pupils’ consistently high success rate was the fruit of “engaged and sustained learning” observed in the classrooms.



Area 3: Care, Guidance and Support– Outstanding!

“..the highest standards academically, spiritually, socially and emotionally.” (eti)


The inspectors were very impressed by the Sacred Heart ethos of the school:

“The educational tradition and ethos of the Society of the Sacred Heart is alive in promoting pupil action to redress social injustice…”



Area 4:– Curriculum - Outstanding!

“The Curricular Provision for the Pupils at KS3, KS4 and post-16 is outstanding.” (eti)


Regarding subjects on offer in the school, the team acknowledged that pupils in St Catherine’s College enjoyed: “a broad and balanced curriculum across the school, well-planned and adjusted annually to match pupils’ abilities, interests and aspirations.”



Area 5:– Leadership and Management - Outstanding!

“Visionary, collegial leadership” (eti)


Leaders at all levels in the school were praised for their:

 “relentless drive and motivation to keep improving the provision in the interests of the pupils.”

The inspection team concluded: “The parents, staff and school community can therefore have a high degree of confidence in the effectiveness of both leadership and governance.”



Area 6:– Pastoral Care - Outstanding!

“Pupils benefit from the tightly fused integration of pastoral care and academic aspiration.” (eti)


The school, through its: “highly supportive pastoral provision, demonstrates a strong commitment to the inclusion and welfare of all its pupils.”



        It is to their credit that, in 1973, the congregation of the Sacred Heart here in Armagh took the daring decision to merge their Grammar and intermediate schools to create one non-selective secondary school - Saint Catherine’s College. Today, we applaud the foresight of these courageous ladies who created a school which has long been promoted as a model for secondary education in the north.


        This excellent inspection report endorses the commitment of the staff of this Sacred Heart school to enable all our pupils to achieve their potential and to become confident, responsible members of society.














Saint Catherine’s College celebrates 40 years

Saint Catherine’s College celebrates 40 years.


A very special celebration took place in Armagh recently to mark 40 years of all-ability education in Saint Catherine’s College.

On Wednesday, 23rd October, the whole school community, past staff & pupils and friends gathered to applaud the Congregation of the Sacred Heart for their foresight in making the big decision in 1973 to amalgamate their Grammar & Intermediate schools. These courageous ladies created what is now widely acclaimed as the top non-selective secondary school in Northern Ireland. Mass was celebrated by Archbishop Eamon Martin in Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, followed by a symposium, exhibition and school tour.

Three of the four Principals of the school were speakers at the symposium, each one giving an interesting and informative talk. Unfortunately Sr Dolores Considine, who spearheaded the amalgamation, was unable to be there as she had just left Armagh in August. In her own words Sr Dolores “did a Benedict” retiring as Principal at the age of 61 and spent the next three decades living and working with the people of Armagh: “I help them and they help me.”

There had been an excellent response from the public to the request for memorabilia and so there was much to see at the exhibition. Past pupils from Armagh and beyond came throughout the afternoon and into the evening to relive their school days on Mount St Catherine.

Speaking from her new home in Edinburgh, Sr. Dolores recalled the early days of the “Big School” and the importance of the musical “Westside Story” produced by English teacher, Seamus Mallon. On hearing of the tremendous success of the exhibition, she commented: “When I heard that they came up from the town to it, I was delighted.”



To mark 40years of Saint Catherine’s College, Armagh, the Congregation of the Sacred Heart were joined in their celebrations by distinguished guests:

Front row l/r: Mrs Deirdre McDonald, Principal of St Catherine’s College, Sr Moira McCourt (former Principal, Mt St Catherine’s P.S.), Archbishop Eamon Martin, Sr Kathleen Friel, Mrs Margaret Martin (Principal 1991-2007), Sr Aideen Kinlen (Principal 1982-1991).Back row: Fr Eugene Sweeney, Sr Nora Smyth, Fr Richard Naughton, Sr Carmel Byrne, Sr Catherine Nowlan, Rev Denis Maguire (Methodist Church), Sr Catherine Farrell, Sr Bernadette McArdle, Fr Kevin Donaghy, Rev Gregory Dunstan (Church of Ireland).

(Absent from photo: Sr Dolores Considine, “Foundress” of the non-selective school & Principal 1973-1982)


Ladies associated with St Catherine’s College enjoy the commemorative booklet to mark the 40th year of the school. L/r: Leigha Coade (Deputy Head Girl), Mrs Sheila Murphy (former English teacher), Mrs Eilish Cardwell (former Head of Spanish), Aicha Jbara (Deputy Head Girl), Sr Nora Smyth, Jane Toner, Mrs Betty Johnston. Sheila & Nora were classmates in the convent boarding school & each wrote a story for the commemorative booklet. Betty worked for the sisters in the convent for 49 years!



Mrs Denise Moore (seated), Vice-Principal of St Catherine’s College, welcomes guests to the 40th celebrations.  l/r: Mrs Eilish Hughes (former Irish teacher), Mrs Marie Hughes, (former Geography teacher), Mrs Mary O’Neill (former member of teaching staff), Bernie McKinney, Mrs Breege Shaw, Mrs Anne McCormack (former French teacher), Susan McCann (Examinations invigilator).


Celebrating 40 years of non-selective education in Saint Catherine’s College, Armagh, spearheaded by the Society of the Sacred Heart, are 4 principals from 4 decades. Also pictured are representatives from the Board of Governors & The Sacred Heart Trust who ensure that the values of Sacred Heart education live on. Front row l/r: Mrs Deirdre McDonald, Principal of St Catherine’s College, Sr Moira McCourt (former Principal, Mt St Catherine’s P.S.) representing Sr Dolores Considine (Principal, 1973-1982), Archbishop Eamon Martin, Sr Aideen Kinlen (Principal 1982-1991), Mrs Margaret Martin (Principal 1991-2007). Back row l/r: Fr Richard Naughton, Reamonn O’Ciaraín, Fr Eugene Sweeney (Chair), Mrs Paula Wilson, Ms Averil Morrow (all B.O.G.) and from the Sacred Heart Trust, Mrs Aideen Marley (past pupil & former member of staff Mt. St Catherine’s P.S.), Fr Kevin Donaghy ( Principal, St. Patrick’s Grammar School, Armagh).


Sr McCourt goes back to school! It is 40 years since Sr Moira McCourt (former Principal of Mt St Catherine’s P.S.) and her fellow Principals of the two secondary schools on Mount St. Catherine took on the Department of Education! Sr Moira is pictured here with guests at the 40th anniversary exhibition. l/r: Sr Nora Smyth, Bernie McKinney, Siobhan Snowcroft, Fiona Terrins, Mrs Terrins. In the background is a window from the original convent, meticulously restored by Mr Peter McNeill, Head of Design & Technology in St Catherine’s College.


Three members of staff of St Catherine’s College enjoy the celebrations to mark 40 years of the all-ability school. l/r: Mr Peter McNeill, Head of Design & Technology (Organising Committee),

Mrs Deirdre Hegarty (Home Economics Dept. & Sacred Heart Goals Coordinator) & Mrs Cathy McLernon (French & Spanish Dept.)


Mrs Fionnuala Tennyson, Senior Teacher & Head of Sixth Form, welcomes Keshia Murray and her mum to exhibition to mark the 40th anniversary of St. Catherine’s College.


Former Principal of St Catherine’s College, Sr Aideen Kinlen, discusses the devastation caused by the 1964 fire in the convent with visitors to the exhibition in the school.


Members of the staff of St Catherine’s College who are also past pupils of the school trace the contribution of the Sacred Heart Sisters to education in Armagh. l/r: Classroom Assistants Una Grew & Michelle McCann and Orla Grimley (Sociology Dept.)


The Halligan sisters, Agnes (McCusker) and Mary (McNeill) marvel at the quality of the 1956 photos of the official opening of the state-of-the-art Intermediate School. The accompanying commentary is from the report to the Society of the Sacred Heart in 1956.


Kevin Kelly, former caretaker at St Catherine’s College, examines an original register with Mrs June Humphries (Former P.E. teacher) and Mrs Pauline Arthurs, past pupil and former Matron at the school. Kevin is a member of the organising committee for the 40th anniversary celebrations.


Almost 60 former members of staff attended the symposium held at St Catherine’s College to pay tribute to the Sisters of the Sacred Heart for their contribution to education in Armagh.

In her absence, Sr Dolores Considine was praised for spearheading the courageous decision of the RSCJ to abolish the 11+ and merge their secondary schools on the Mount of St Catherine in 1973.




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