Alexandra College is a private, single-sex girls' school located in Milltown, Dublin, Ireland, operating under a Church of Ireland ethos. It serves girls from ages 4 to 18 as boarding or day pupils. The school is one of the most prestigious in Ireland and ranks highly in Leaving Certificate results tables. It is also one of the most exclusive fee-paying schools in all of Ireland.
The school was founded in 1866  and takes its name from Princess Alexandra of Denmark, the school's patron. The school colours, red and white, were adopted from the Danish flag in her honour. Alexandra College was founded by Anne Jellicoe, a Quaker educationist, in the name of furthering women's education. Under Anne Jellicoe, the school grew from a small establishment focused on providing a governess-style education to Irish Protestant ladies into a pioneering force for women's rights and education, providing an education to women equivalent to that available in boys' schools, with a grounding in mathematics, history, classics and philosophy. As Alexandra settled into its role, Ann Jellicoe was convinced that a major obstacle to the liberal education of women was their exclusion from the university campus. She passionately believed that until women were admitted to Trinity College Dublin (founded in 1592), the voice of women would not commonly be heard in politics, literature or in academic debate.
The Royal University of Ireland Act 1879 allowed females to take university degrees on the same basis as males. Students were prepared for the examinations (including degree examinations) of the Royal University. Susan Parkes, co-author of Gladly Learn and Gladly Teach, a history of Alexandra College (1866-1966), is quoted as saying: "In the late 1800s, lecturers from Trinity College Dublin provided tuition for ladies on the Alexandra campus. And the first women to receive degrees in Ireland or Britain were Alex pupils — six of them successfully studied at Dublin's Royal University from 1891 and at Trinity College Dublin, once it opened its doors to women in 1903."
The school was originally situated in the historic Earlsfort Terrace, across from what is now the National Concert Hall. By 1879, a new hall and theatre were constructed alongside. Over time, the school acquired several more houses and by 1889 a new building by William Kaye-Parry was constructed next door to the college as Alexandra School. The school moved out to its sports grounds in the 1960s in order to accommodate more students. The original buildings were subsequently demolished and the site remained vacant for over two decades. The Conrad Hotel and office buildings were later erected on the site.
The patriot and leading figure in the Easter 1916 uprising Padraig Pearse was once employed as an Irish language teacher. The first ever international hockey match was held on the Alexandra College hockey pitch. It was England vs Ireland, and Ireland won 1-0.
Alexandra College is under Church of Ireland management, and the Archbishop of Dublin (who presides over the United Dioceses of Dublin and Glendalough) currently acts as chairman of the school council. The students are addressed weekly by a female minister, and a school assembly is held daily at which Church of Ireland hymns are sung and which finish with the extended version of The Lord's Prayer.
The attendance fees for the primary school are in fact higher than the secondary school due to the high number of teachers of specialized subjects for students with learning disabilities which are not subsidized by the government on the payroll. The preparatory department classes wear a red tracksuit, which the older classes wear only for sports, wearing the brown uniform of the secondary school for normal classes along with a red tie. The majority of Junior School pupils go on to study at the Senior School.
Alexandra College today
A wide range of subjects is available to study. The school crest reflects this, featuring a cross with a book, a ball, a lyre and a palette in its corners. The school was greatly benefited in 2004 with the opening of the Milltown Luas stop at the back gate of the college.
In the senior school, 1st-3rd years wear the traditional brown uniform, while 4th years wear a tracksuit which helps them do more activities as they are normally 'outdoor' based. 5th and 6th year students do not wear the school uniform; they must however wear clothes suitable for school; this is meant to promote the girls' individuality. For one day in 6th year the girls put back on their brown uniforms, this is for the summer funday which has become a tradition in the school as fundays are 'non-uniform' days with themes. This day is generally just before graduation.
Charity work of the girls
Undertaking charitable initiatives has always been a feature of school activities in Alexandra College. In the spring of 2005 a group of teachers decided to support the work of the Irish Nepalese Educational Trust, http://www.inetireland.ie in trying to build a new primary school in Phuleli, a remote village in Nepal just 50 km south of Mount Everest. At Easter 2006 a group of teachers from Alex travelled to Nepal and visited Phuleli and were present at the foundation stone laying ceremony at the site of the new school. As one villager said: “We must educate our children: education is wealth.”
The school devotes up to five full days per school year to raising money for a range of charities decided by the student body. These 'Charity Fun Days' are entirely student-run and very successful, raising up to €4000 per day. These days are run by the Sixth Years and have themes to make them more fun for the students.
From its earliest days Alexandra College has had a reputation for looking outward to the community and world at large. The Guild was founded in 1897, not only to form a bond of union between past and present students and staff, and to keep them in touch with the College, but also to promote a spirit of service to the community and to undertake social and philanthropic work. The Guild has several branches worldwide and is known as a force of Alexandra alumni. Facets of the Guild include the Alexandra College Golfing Society, the Old Alexandra Hockey Club, Alexandra Guild House and the Alexandra College Bursaries, which supports 25 ladies throughout the country and assists families in need around Dublin and elsewhere.