St. Mary's Christian Brothers' Grammar School, Belfast
|This article relies too much on references to primary sources. (February 2013)|
|Native name||Scoil Ghramadaí Mhuire na mBráithre Críostaí|
|Principal||Mr. Jim Sheerin, B.A., Dip.Ed.,D.A.S.E.|
|Local authority||Belfast Education and Library Board|
The school was founded in 1866. The school moved to a purpose-built secondary at Barrack Street, where the Open Door Centre is now located. Since 1968, the grammar school has developed a much larger campus on Glen Road (referred to locally as "School Road" due to the high number of schools situated along it) in West Belfast. In 1998, it completed the move to Glen Road and now has no facility at Barrack Street.
The school was once entirely run by the Irish Christian Brothers, but as vocations have declined, the school the staff are all lay teachers. Two still contribute to the life of the school, Brothers James McKenna and Colm Carlin. The school, however, is now under the trusteeship of the Edmund Rice Schools Trust (NI).
The current principal of the school is John Martin who took up his position onin Novembefr 2014. He succeeded Mr Jim Sheerin who, in turn succeeded Kevin Burke (Caoimhín de Búrca), who was the first layperson to hold the post on a permanent basis (although Michael Crilly was acting principal in 1996-1997 and Jim McClean was teacher-in-charge at Barrack Street for a number of years). Review of GCSE & A Level Examination Performance
The school provides instruction in a broad range of academic subjects. At the advanced level students are prepared for exams in Business, Biology, Chemistry, Mathematics, Physics, ICT, Psychology, Art & Design, Geography, History, Religious Studies, Politics, English Literature, Drama, Irish, Music, Sports Studies.
Exam results 2011
- 64% of students achieving three Grades at A*-C or equivalent
- 1 student A* and 3 A grades.
- 1 student 2 A*s and an A grade
- 6 students achieved an A* and 2 A grades (or equivalent). A further six pupils achieved three Grade As.
- Irish, Art & Design, French, Music, Physics and Applied Science recorded a 100% pass rate at grades A* to C
- Chemistry, Drama, Politics, History, Geography and Sports Studies were also very successful subjects, all achieving pass rates of over 90% at grades A*-C.
The school hurling team won six Mageean Cup titles in succession in the 1990s. St. Marys also completed an Ulster Colleges double in 2008 winning both the Mageean Cup and the McLarnon Cup for the first time in the school's history after beating St. Columbs (Derry) 1-7 to 0-8 in the final at Healy Park in Omagh on St. Patrick's Day. The school has also had sustained success in handball and Gaelic football.
Since the lifting of the ban on school representation in soccer competitions in 2002 the school has become the most successful in Belfast. On an historic St Patrick's Day in 2006 at Lisburn Distillery's grounds the Year 12s won its first ever soccer cup, the Belfast Cup, defeating Boys Model School. They followed up the next year with its first NI Cup in 2007 (Year 12) as well as the 2007 Belfast Cup (Year 11). This success was followed up in 2008 as they won the year 9 Belfast Cup as well as an historic double in lifting both the Carnegie Schools Northern Ireland Cup (Year 13/14) and became the first school in 20 years to retain the Malcolm Brodie northern Ireland Trophy (year 12) with a victory over St Columbs, Derry. The winning tradition continues into the last year of the decade with wins in the NI Cup and Belfast Cup for the U14s and the U15s winning the Belfast cup.
It is the only school in Ireland to have a clean sweep of All-Ireland titles at all age groups in consecutive years. A 9th Canada Cup in a row was won in April 2009 with several of the team continuing to represent Ireland at international tournaments.
The school runs debating societies in English, Irish and Spanish, and has sent delegates representing Ireland to both the European Youth Parliament and European Youth Commission. The school has excelled in the European and Irish News inter-school quizzes, currently holding both trophies. The school debating team won the Northern Ireland Schools Debating Championship in 2008, defeating the team from Antrim Grammar School in the final at Stormont. It was the only time the St. Mary's had won the competition.
The inter-schools quiz team has enjoyed considerable success in recent years and are the holders in perpetuity of the Irish News Ulster Schools Quiz trophy, having won outright in 2001, Anthony Kelly winning the semi final tie break. They also hold the Cup for the European Quiz.
The school maintains an orchestra and a recording studio, stages theatrical and musical performances, as well as entering students in art competitions.
The school is heavily involved in projects with communities in Zambia, in particular in Lusaka, Kabweza and Mapepe. Pupils and teachers travel to these projects each year. Project Zambia also involves the wider local community, both at parish and other schools' level. Much has been achieved and gained from this endeavour since 2002 and is conducted under the auspices of the Christian Brothers' Immersion Programme.
Young Enterprise companies at the school have achieved remarkable success having been awarded the title "Northern Ireland Company of the Year" on four occasions. One such company, Europhoria, was the second to do so and made a record profit. Two Young Enterprise companies from the school, Quantum Enterprises (1992) and Virtual Retail (1998), have represented the United Kingdom at the European level.
- Thomas Bartlett, historian
- Ciarán Carson, Professor & Director, Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry, QUB
- John G. Hughes, President of the National University of Ireland, Maynooth; pro-Vice-Chancellor of the National University of Ireland
- Ciarán Carson, poet; member of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland
- Martin Lynch, playwright
- Gerard McCarthy, actor
- Albert Sharpe, actor
- Ciarán Mackel, architect
- Dr. Martin McAleese, chartered accountant, dentist; husband of Mary McAleese, President of Ireland
- Monsignor Thomas Bartley, Vicar General of The Diocese of Down and Connor
- William Conway, Cardinal Archbishop Armagh, Primate of All Ireland
- Patrick Walsh, Bishop Emeritus of Down & Connor
- John F. Larkin QC, Attorney General of Northern Ireland (Belfast) (2010–present)
- Justice Donal O'Donnell, Judge, Supreme Court of Ireland (Dublin)
- Paul Clark, UTV presenter
- Gerry Adams, TD, President of Sinn Féin
- John Cushnahan, MP, MEP
- Joe Devlin, MP
- Francis Hanna, LLB, MP
- Seán MacEntee, TD, former Tánaiste, Minster for Health, and Minister for Finance. Member of the first Dáil Éireann.