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Scoil Naomh Chaitríona, Ballyshannon, Co. Donegal

Our History


A brief history....

The Sisters of Mercy came to Ballyshannon from Kinsale, Co. Cork on April 26th 1867. The six Sisters were led by Mother Ignatius Mc Carthy and they settled in a house on the corner of College Street. Post-famine the country was rife with hunger and disease. They began their work immediately, looking after the poor and the sick. A school was also begun in the house on College Street. Consumption or TB was widespread and soon claimed the lives of some of the young sisters, however more took their place. 

In 1884 St Catherine's Convent was built through the generosity of Mr. Wm. Stephens and Dr. Simon Sheil Jr.

Pupil numbers began to rise and a larger premises was needed. In 1900 the Club Rooms on College St were acquired and a new school was built. The local community was always very generous with their donations for the upkeep and maintenance of the school. A high standard of education was established by the order, which was maintained throughout subsequent decades. 

The current school building that we see today was built in 1953/1954. Enrolment had continued to increase and Mother Frances Theresa Mc Hugh had the vision and drive to lead the building project. Although grants were given, much local contribution was needed. The townspeople helped by running raffles, bazaars and Silver Circles. At the time, the new building was state of the art; 'a model of excellence in design and execution" and was officially opened on October 5th 1954. The Marian Hall was built as an assembly hall and was reserved exclusively for school functions.

The staff consisted almost entirely of nuns along with the first lay teacher, Mrs. Peg Carney. 

However, as is the way of life and as the poet Tennyson reminds us, "The old order changeth, yielding place to the new, And God fulfills himself in many ways". Falling numbers, old age and death meant that the Sisters could no longer maintain the staffing of the school. So with the utmost confidence, it was handed over to a lay Principal, Mrs. Delia Pender (acting principal at the time) and subsequently Miss Pauline Mc Hale and the existing staff in 2000.

For decades the school had both boys and girls, up until they had made their First Communion. After this the following September, the boys went over to what is now known as the Holy Family N.S. and their girls came over to Scoil Chaitriona. In September of 2000 Scoil Chaitríona became fully co-educational with the inclusion of boys in all classes.

Our new school crest was designed with Isaac Newton's famous expression in mind :"If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants". This reflects what our school feels - we as learners benefit from the help and support of each other and gain from the wisdom and knowledge of those who came before us. 

Our new school motto 'Mol an óige' -which translates to 'praise the young' - is a daily reminder of what we strive to do in the classroom.