Annadale Grammar School

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Coordinates: 54°34′16″N 5°55′08″W / 54.571°N 5.919°W / 54.571; -5.919 Annadale Grammar School for Boys was an all-boys school located on the Annadale Embankment skirting the River Lagan in south Belfast, Northern Ireland. In 1990, Annadale Grammar School (all boys) amalgamated with Carolan Grammar School (all girls) and became known as Wellington College Belfast.


The name "Annadale" originated from Anne Hill, mother of Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington. Wellington's grandfather, Arthur Hill, 1st Viscount Dungannon, lived at Belvoir Estate near Knockbreda and married Anne Stafford in 1737. They bore 3 children, a boy and 2 girls. Their eldest daughter, Anne, married Garret Wellesley, 1st Earl of Mornington and herself bore 2 sons and a daughter - Penelope Prudence, Richard and Arthur, Duke of Wellington. The site on which the school was built was originally known as Anna's Dale, a name referred to in letters from the Duke to his mother which are now held by the school. The school also possesses an oil painting of the area as it was at the time of Wellington and reputedly shows the famous Molly Ward's Tavern; an important meeting place during the time of the United Irishmen.


Annadale Grammar School colours were red, black and white. The school badge, worn on the breast pocket of the black school blazer, was the "cockatrice" which is associated with the Duke of Wellington's coats of arms. Until its amalgamation in 2006 the cockatrice provided the Regimental capbadge of the Duke of Wellington's Regiment. It remains on the capbadge of the contemporary Yorkshire Regiment.

The school motto was "Virtus Fortunae Comes" meaning "Fortune Favours the Brave" - Wellington's motto.

The school song was De Brevitate Vitae (On the Shortness of Life), perhaps more commonly known by its first words Gaudeamus Igitur (Let Us Therefore Rejoice). This is a very old and popular academic song in many European countries.

The 4 school houses were named after World War 2 Irish Generals: Alexander; Alanbrooke; Dill; Montgomery.

Course work[edit]

Annadale was distinctive among grammar schools of its era in Northern Ireland in that it offered classes in woodwork and metal work, possibly reflecting that it attracted a relatively large proportion of boys from working-class families in south Belfast. Admission to Annadale required passing the eleven plus exam, and was a mixed blessing for some families who may have needed their sons to become wage earners by age 16.[citation needed] Instead those parents incurred the expense of wool blazers, grey slacks, the school cap, socks and black shoes - not to mention the sports apparel and kit for rugby, hockey, athletics, tennis and cricket. Worse still for those parents, a high proportion of Annadale graduates went on to university, delaying further their arrival as wage earners in the workforce. The sacrifices notwithstanding, many former Annadale students were the first in their families to graduate from University.

In the mid-1960s, Annadale experimented with the structure of its sixth and upper sixth forms primarily through a reduction of externally imposed structure and discipline - much like a university environment. As a consequence, Annadale students adjusted quickly on arrival at university and typically excelled at the honours level at universities throughout the UK.

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