Our Lady and St. Patrick's College, Knock

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Our Lady and St. Patrick's College
Coláiste Mhuire agus Naomh Pádraig
Native name Coláiste Mhuire agus Naomh Pádraig
Type Grammar School
Religion Roman Catholic
Principal Dermot G. Mullan
Location Belfast,
Northern Ireland
Local authority South Eastern Education and Library Board
Students 1265 (approx)
Gender Coeducational
Ages 11–18
Website www.knock.co.uk

Our Lady and Saint Patrick's College (Irish: Coláiste Mhuire agus Naomh Pádraig, An Cnoc) is a Roman Catholic diocesan grammar school in Knock, Belfast, Northern Ireland.


The school opened on Monday, 4 September 1967 on a 20-acre (81,000 m2) site at Gortgrib in the Cherryvalley area of east Belfast with Fr. Joseph Conway as President. A sister college of St. Malachy's College and St MacNissi’s College, Garron Tower

By the previous April, the need for a new boys' grammar school catering for the North Down and East Belfast area had become urgent. There was no provision for Catholic grammar education east of the Lagan and it was clear, given the trends of the time, that there would be no capacity in the existing two Belfast grammar schools for boys (St. Malachy's and St. Mary's, Christian Brothers) for the September 1967 intake. Three priests from St. Malachy's - Head of English, Fr Joseph Conway, with Fr John O'Sullivan and Fr Albert McNally were appointed by Bishop William Philbin to found the new diocesan college.

The site for the new school was Providence Farm at Cherryvalley. The property had been in the hands of the Diocese of Down and Connor since the middle of the 19th century and some of the older residents of the area could remember Sisters of Mercy visiting the site in pony and trap for provisions for the pupils.

The College motto, chosen by Bishop William Philbin, was In omnibus gratias agite (I Thess, 5:18)

College and the Troubles[edit]

The College had originally been planned for an enrolment of over 800 pupils. In the event the civil disturbances of the early 1970s had a profound effect on the development of the college. The Catholic population of the intake area was subjected to intimidation and serious movement of population resulted.[citation needed] Very many families of the students left the areas, especially in east Belfast, and the college buildings were themselves subjected to frequent sectarian attacks.[citation needed]

Permanent buildings were planned from 1970 and were completed by 1979, by which time the enrollment had stabilised at about 500 pupils. Throughout this period almost all the pupils were bussed into school in the morning and home again straight after class in the afternoon depriving them of almost all extra-curricular activity.[citation needed] Through an agreement with Translink the school has had late buses running on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays for after school extra curricular activities since the early 1980s.

Former staff[edit]

Bishop Donal McKeown was on the College staff from 1978-1983 along with several other priests of the Diocese of Down and Connor, including founders Fr Joseph Conway, Fr John O'Sullivan and Fr Albert McNally; also Fr Patrick McKenna, Fr John Forsyth, Fr Patrick Foy and Fr David Delargy (Member of the Priests)


In 1984 the College Trustees, chaired by Bishop Cahal Daly proposed that from September 1985 the College should become co-educational and remain on the Knock site through amalgamation with the Sacred Heart of Mary Grammar School in Holywood, County Down. This new foundation became known as Our Lady and St. Patrick's College, Knock with an enrollment of almost one thousand pupils, and the motto Gratias Agamus (Let Us Give Thanks).[1]

Fr. Joseph Conway remained as President of the amalgamated school until 1987 when he was succeeded by Fr. Patrick McKenna, parish priest of Dundrum, Co. Down. In 1999 Mr. John Allen took over as principal of the school, who was the first lay person appointed to this position in the college's history. Allen was replaced in the 2008/09 academic year by Mr. Dermot G Mullan who had formerly been a teacher at the college and, having been principal at St. Patrick's of Downpatrick, returned to the college as principal.

Notable former pupils[edit]

Davy Sims, broadcaster and writer, former BBC head of New Media and radio producer. (Left 1973) Grainne Gunn (now Moss) - On 3 August 1987, Grainne became the first Irish woman to swim across the English channel. (Left 1988) Paul Buckle - BBC broadcaster, formerly at Cool FM. (Left 1986) Suzanne Lavery - television producer. (Left 1990) Mark Woods - BBC and Talksport broadcaster and journalist. (Left 1990) As of March 2008, the College was in the spotlight when one of its Year 14 pupils, Niamh Perry competed in the BBC1 competition I'd Do Anything, reaching the quarter final.

New building[edit]

Final designs and location of the new building have been agreed upon.[2] The school had to install a large number of mobile classrooms during its lifetime to accommodate the increase in pupils. The original building was designed for approximately 800 pupils, but with an average enrollment of 1250 from the late 90s onwards it was clearly over-stretched. There were approximately 30 mobile classrooms in the form of 15 double-room mobiles.

The new building has now been completed, and March 2011 will see the transfer of all teaching to the new facility. The new building has been built in the current position of the all weather pitch, dining hall, tennis courts and part of the sports hall. Due to the hilly nature of the campus this required significant excavation and levelling. In the position of the grass bank a new driveway system has been built to allow buses to pick up and set down. The Kingsway Gardens and Gilnahirk Road entrances will remain in similar use with one allowing cars and another buses, respectively. The current grass pitch will remain with a new all weather pitch built where the old science block, administration building and upper half of the main classroom block are now. New tennis courts will be built adjacent to the current grass pitch on redundant land. Staff car parking will be built in the current position of the grass bank extending to the front of the new building and terminating with a sizeable area in the position of the current technology block.

During construction part of Tullycarnet Park (currently unused) was used to facilitate building equipment and materials so as to cause as little disruption to school activities as possible. Design proposals and timelines facilitated the original idea of using the main buildings now for teaching whilst the new building was being constructed. The new building will be much more environmentally friendly than the previous, using design techniques to manipulate the sun for heating and ventilation as well as rainwater being recycled. Sensors will monitor the quality and temperature of the air to control cooling, heating and recycling. There will also be light sensors to adjust electrical lighting depending on how much sunlight is entering the room.


  1. ^ Our Lady & St Patrick's College, Knock - College Motto
  2. ^ Our Lady & St Patrick's College, Knock - Agreement Reached Regarding the New School

External links[edit]

  • "Knock". www.knock.co.uk. Retrieved 2009-11-26.