Internet Safety Poster April 2015

Deirdre McDonald retires

Principal Deirdre McDonald retires from St. Catherine’s College after almost four decades.

 “I leave St. Catherine’s College in a very good place with a fantastic staff and I look forward to watching the continued success of our students.”

These are the words of Deirdre McDonald, speaking after a special Mass held in St Patrick’s Cathedral on Friday 30th January to mark her retirement. The students had lined the front drive of the school early that morning, forming a Guard of Honour for Mrs McDonald on her last day as principal.

Reminiscing on her appointment to the staff 39 years ago, Mrs McDonald said:

I arrived on a gorgeous June evening in 1976, a very young graduate and a very nervous one.  Sister Considine, then Headmistress, interviewed me.  When I visited her last October in Edinburgh, she reminded me of what I was wearing that evening and that my boyfriend had driven me over for the interview – she is ninety-four years of age!

The boyfriend didn’t last but the love affair between the then three year old Saint Catherine’s College and the 21 year old Miss Deirdre Carey which started that beautiful summer evening has endured and deepened over four decades.”

 Deirdre spoke fondly of the influence of many of her colleagues on the staff in the early years:

“‘Senior Mistress’ Séamus Mallon inspired us all with his talk of justice, his presence, his genius in the classroom. We were so fortunate to have those great professionals willingly undertaking all-ability teaching with such talent and verve.”

In the 1970s a deep ambition to make a special type of school was born; seeds were sown and nurtured by the extraordinary woman leading us, Sister Dolores Considine, a lady with a remarkable vision of a socially just type of education with the abandoning of academic selection at 11.

The 80s and 90s and into the new Millennium were vigorous years and, guided by Sister Kinlen and Margaret Martin, Saint Catherine’s College began to emerge as a leading school in the North. Underpinning our success was the centrality of Sacred Heart Education and Ethos and our growing understanding of the importance of an international entity.

Margaret Martin became the first lay Principal of Saint Catherine’s College in 1991 and I became one of her Vice Principals.  The 15 years of Margaret’s Principal ship were characterised by the emergence of the confident high-performing school with which we are familiar today.

Through great personal tragedy and sorrow, I have become increasingly aware of the need for education to prepare our young people not only for the life of work but for the work of life itself.  The support of a whole school community helped me through my darkest days and honed my understanding of the on-going need for listening ears and caring hearts at the centre of our school. 

My years as Principal have brought almighty highs of an All-Ireland sporting victory and many Top School accolades, extraordinary musicals, Concerts, Masses, the unforgettable high of an Outstanding General Inspection and the list goes on and on.

But, in the end, we all rely on what, in my view, is the life-blood of this amazing school.  It is the people - Team Saint Catherine’s - and the pupils, the sons and daughters and granddaughters and great granddaughters who take it for granted that they can apply successfully for QUB/UU, Dublin, a Further Education College, Oxbridge, Imperial College, Bristol, Edinburgh if that’s where their dreams take them!

So we reach a bend in the road, rather than the end of the road, and I know that a great vista is opening up round that bend and that my successor will safeguard all that we cherish in Saint Catherine’s College and will lead the school with confidence to new heights.

I look back to that nervous, young woman in 1976 going home to ask her father “Can I take this job in Armagh?”, not knowing that it was to be the dream job, the job of a lifetime, a 40 year labour of love. Thank you Saint Catherine’s for becoming the Impossible Dream.”

Deirdre McDonald pictured with His Eminence Cardinal Brady after the mass celebrated in St Patrick’s Cathedral to mark her retirement as Principal of St. Catherine’s College, Armagh. Also in the picture are Mrs McDonald’s daughter Aoife and son Iain. 

Pictured with His Eminence Cardinal Sean Brady is retiring Principal of St. Catherine’s College, Armagh, Deirdre McDonald, members of her family and friends.

Sixth Form students at St. Catherine’s College Armagh, Megan McCusker & Erin McKinney, present flowers to Principal Deirdre McDonald on the occasion of her retirement.

Gabriel McGuigan, Senior technician at St. Catherine’s College, Armagh, presents Mrs Deirdre McDonald with The Papal Blessing on the occasion of her retirement as Principal of the school.

Deirdre McDonald plants a tree to mark her retirement as Principal of St. Catherine’s College, Armagh. Mrs McDonald has spent 39 years teaching in the school.  She served as Vice Principal from 1991 and has been Principal since September 2006.

To mark the retirement of Deirdre McDonald as Principal of St. Catherine’s College, Armagh, guests enjoyed lunch at the school after attending mass in the cathedral. Pictured are former members of staff l/r: Maura McCoy, Josephine Scullion, Josie Sherry and Majella McCloskey (Maths Department). 

Another Busy Term

Another Busy Term at St. Catherine’s College.

On the agenda this term: Women in Science Event, Internet Safety Drama Workshops, Reaching out to others & the Rights of the Child.

In November, St. Catherine’s College Science Department ran a ‘Women in Science’ event for its Year 10 and Year 11 students. The aim was to showcase the work of local female scientists and to encourage students to consider careers in Science. Guest scientists spoke about their personal love of Science, their career path and what their current job entails.

The Drama Department and the Pastoral Care Team welcomed Beam Creative Network to deliver Internet Safety Drama Workshops in collaboration with the Policingand Community Safety Partnership Manager in Armagh Council. Over eighty pupils enjoyed the workshop which was a fun and interactive way to explore the issues surrounding internet safety.

Members of The TLC Club have been working hard this term to raise awareness of young people’s human rights. We have just celebrated the 25th anniversary of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and so the TLC Club, through UNICEF, were given a wonderful opportunity of writing to the First and Deputy First Ministers regarding the rights of young people.


Guest Speakers at the ‘Women in Science’ careers’ conference held recently in St. Catherine’s College are pictured with students and staff who attended the event: Back row l/r: Mrs Fionnuala Devlin (Science Dept.), Ms Averil Morrow (Adviser for ICT & Technology, SELB), Miss Laura Smyth (W5 STEM Ambassador), Mrs Jenna McGarry (Biochemical Engineer & past pupil). Middle row: Mr Ciaran Connolly (Head of Science), Mrs Elaine Dynes (Research Biochemist with Almac). Front row: Miss Oonagh O’Connor (Medical Student QUB & past pupil), Dr Caroline Pereira–Lynch (Science Dept.) Absent from photo: Miss Yanina Metodieva (Astronomer, Armagh Observatory/QUB).



Beam Internet Safety Drama Workshops allow pupils to explore the issues surrounding internet safety in a fun way. Head of Drama in St Catherine’s College Mary Mac Ginty (left) and Head of Year 10, Ciara Burnett (centre) look and learn along with the pupils.



St Catherine's College KS3 pupils enjoy the Beam Internet Safety Drama Workshop overseen by Catriona McCall, Head of Key Stage 3 (left) and Mary Mac Ginty, Head of Drama (right).



To mark the 25th anniversary of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Childthesemembers of The TLC Club in St Catherine's College, run by Clare Rooney (centre), wrote to our First and Deputy First Ministers and now eagerly await a reply.


St Catherine's College HUG Team 2014 visited our Sacred Heart sister school, St. Bernadette’s P.S. Jinja, Uganda in October where they taught Arts and Crafts to 1,200 children aged 5 – 19 years old! The students were accompanied by Mr Gabriel McGuigan and Mrs Michelle McCartan. The project was coordinated by Sr. Carmel Flynn rscj who expressed her gratitude to the team and to the many other students, their families and the wider community who generously funded the project. Back row: l/r: Eimear O’Kane, Sinead Oliver, Gabriel McGuigan (Senior Technician), Niamh McCann, Aine Maguire. Middle row l/r: Niamh Jones, Rebecca Kingham. Front row l/r: Eimear McCormack, Mrs Fionnuala Tennyson (Senior Teacher/Head of Sixth Form), Ciara Crilly. Absent from photo: Hannah McGarvey.



The pupils of St Catherine’s College Armagh planned to raise awareness and support our own both young and old during illness- in this case cancer. They agreed that there had hardly been a person in the Armagh community who had not been affected by cancer and they could not change that. However they could change how they reacted to it.


The pupils decided  that the school’s  Christmas Community Concert would be an excellent opportunity to raise awareness, show support and gather some funding in relation to a disease that had made such an impact on our community. They chose the children's cancer charity CLIC Sargent having been inspired by a talk organised by Mrs Fiona Cauldwell.


The school is justifiably proud of the character shown by the pupils, teachers and our friends in the wider Armagh community. Together they have created a visible show of support, a gathering of strengths and an entertaining event. The concert demonstrated to the community of Armagh that we care, that our children matter and that we are here for each other in times of need. 


The year 8 Drama Club wowed the audience with their superb act at the Christmas concert in St Catherine's College. Lauren Hamill, Drama Dept. (centre), was justly proud of their performance.



Pictured atthe Christmas Concert in St Catherine's College are the sixth form Drama students who organised the event, the proceeds of which went to CLIC Sargent N.I. for children with cancer. Members of staff who were key players are also pictured along with Principal Deirdre McDonald (front right). Centre back: Fiona Caldwell, Head of Year 8 and Mary Mac Ginty, Head of Drama. Front left: Patricia Boyle, Director of Chaplaincy Services in the school.

Saint Catherine’s Students Top in Northern Ireland

Saint Catherine’s Students Top in Northern Ireland!


As we have come to expect, students from Saint Catherine’s College have, yet again, featured among the top achievers in Northern Ireland in CCEA Examinations!


This year, Bríd Ní Aodha, a year 10 student, gained first place in GCSE Irish. Although students from Sruth na Gaeilge have been placed in the top three in this subject in past years, this is the first time that a pupil from the school has achieved the top mark in this subject.


The Learning for Life & Work Department in the school has an excellent record for Top Students in Northern Ireland and this year Jerlin James was awarded second place in GCSE while Eimear Rodgers came third in the subject. Well done to all the students and to their teachers on these magnificent achievements!

Saint Catherine’s College students Jerlin James and Eimear Rodgers have good reason to smile as Jerlin (left) has gained second place in Northern Ireland in CCEA GCSE Learning for Life & Work while Eimear was placed third. The girls are pictured here with their teacher Miss Ciara McGahan (centre back) and Karen Corrigan, Professor of Linguistics at Newcastle University, herself a past pupil of the school.



Success for Saint Catherine’s College, Sruth na Gaeilge, Year 10 student Bríd Ní Aodha who not only achieved Grade A* in GCSE Irish  but was placed first in Northern Ireland in the CCEA 2014 examination! Brid is pictured here with her proud teacher, Bean Caitríona De Bléine (left), Coordinator of Sruth na Gaeilge. Also pictured is past pupil Professor Karen Corrigan, School of English literature, language & Linguistics, Newcastle University. Comhghairdeas leat a Bhríd.




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