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School History


Dr Cullen - Archbishop of Armagh (1850-52) invited the Society of the Sacred Heart to set up a convent and schools in Armagh city. He urged the need for a convent to be set up in the city but admitted that he had "no means to build or endow the new convent", that the nuns must do it themselves. He promised however to assist as much as possible in any other way. Mother Barat foundress of the Society of the Sacred Heart eventually agreed and Mother Eliza Croft, the Superior of the Convent of Roscrea, (set up nine years earlier in 1842) was asked to visit Armagh to inspect a house recommended by the Archbishop. This house was known as the Pavilion and was next to the present Court House on the Mall. The owner of the house, a Captain Algeo was prepared to rent it to the nuns.

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On October 2 a small group of nuns under Mother Croft took up residence at the Pavilion.


By this date the new foundation was beginning to take shape - The convent provided: A poor school for 300 children A day school for 40 children A Boarding school for 18 children The new Primate Dixon gave the convent and schools whatever assistance he could.

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A solicitor, John Stanley, who owned a good deal of property in College Street and in the City generally, purchased the Pavilion. In July 1856 he gave the nuns notice to move as he wished to take up residence in the house. He agreed to allow the nuns a little more time in that house. In 1857 No. 2 Charlemont Place was rented as the new convent and Poor school continued in No. 24 Abbey Street. This situation continued until June 1859.


The nuns negotiated to take over the Land known as Tullasney in the town land of Lurgyvallon. This was leased to the Society by Mary Anne Quinn. The land was named Mount St Catherine on the suggestion of Primate Dixon and the nuns moved into their new home in June 1859.

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Centenary Celebrations of arrival of the Society of the Sacred Heart were held in the schools on Mount Saint Catherine. By this time the original convent building had been extended to include a Convent of the Sacred Heart day and boarding schools. Close by the convent was a Primary School (Mount St Catherine's Primary School).


A third school - the Convent Secondary Intermediate School - was opened in the grounds of the Convent.

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An extension was made to the Sacred Heart Grammar School, which included a new entrance hall, gym, staff room and a block of classrooms.


On the night of February 13/14, a fire devastated the Convent Chapel, library and general classrooms. The school closed for one week. Then it was 'business as usual' until rebuilding was completed.

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'Tower' Wing opened with new staff room, science laboratories and general classrooms.


In September of '73 - The Sacred Heart Secondary Intermediate School and the Sacred Heart Grammar School amalgamated. It was decided that the name of the new schools should be Saint Catherine's College, Convent of the Sacred Heart. The school opened with teaching staff of 41 led by Sister Considine. Pupil enrolment in 1973-74 was 688. Between 1973 and 75 the boarding school was phased out.

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This period saw the nuns move out of the 'convent' building and the new convent built at the school gates. The Society of the Sacred Heart began to set up small communities in local housing estates in order to be nearer to the people, and to help and be helped by the wider community.


On April 10 Sister Kinlen, staff and pupils celebrated the formal opening of the new Duchesene Wing of the School - Mass was celebrated by the late Cardinal Ó Fiaich and the then Education Minister Dr, Brian Mawhinney formally opened the new wing.



Appointment of the first lay Principal - Mrs Margaret Martin


Seamus Heaney officially opened the College Library on 16 September

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The official opening of the £6m refurbished Saint Catherine's College took place on 22 September


Jubilee celebrations to mark 25 years of all-ability education in Saint Catherine's College - 16 April. Official opening of the Callan Building - Examination and GNVQ Centre for Sixth Form Students - 22 September.



Plans launched for £1m Information and Communication Technology building to be completed in early 2002.


Future of Sacred Heart Education secured in Armagh with the establishment of the Sacred Heart Trust Armagh, supported by the Sacred Heart Network. The two Sacred Heart Schools - Mount St Catherine's Primary School and Saint Catherine's College become part of Saint Patrick's Educational Trust in the Archdiocese of Armagh Society of the Sacred Heart celebrate 150 years in Armagh.

Opening of Coláiste Chaitríona – an Irish Medium Stream, with an initial intake of 10 pupils.  Boys join Saint Catherine’s College for the first time.



Retirement of Mrs Margaret Martin having served as Principal for 15 years.

Appointment of Mrs Deirdre McDonald as the new lay Principal.


Opening of a four classroom extension to accommodate the growing Irish Medium Stream.

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New-look school library officially opened by Social Development Minister Alex Attwood - Sruth na Gaeilge, Coláiste Chaitríona, is 10 years old


Exhibition and events celebrating 40 Years of Saint Catherine’s College 1973-2013!

ETI inspection report: “The Quality of Education provided by this school is outstanding!”


Creation of Le Jardin du Sacré Coeur, the Garden of Remembrance dedicated to pupils and staff who passed away during their time at Saint Catherine’s College.


Retirement of Mrs Deirdre McDonald having served as Principal for 9 years.

Appointment of Mrs Noeleen Tiffney as the new School Principal.

Unveiling of monument to Primate Joseph Dixon in front of Convent Building:

 “It is an extraordinary thing to lay the foundation stone for a building for which there is not a penny  to pay for it.” Primate Dixon


Coláiste Chaitríona celebrates 20 years of providing education through the medium of Irish.


Saint Catherine’s College celebrates its Golden Jubilee

This year we are celebrating 50 years of Saint Catherine’s College. 

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