Our Lady and St Patrick's College, Knock
|Principal||Dermot G. Mullan|
|Local authority||South Eastern Education and Library Board|
The school opened as St Patrick's College 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 College motto, chosen by Bishop William Philbin, was In omnibus gratias agite ('give thanks in all circumstances') (I Thess, 5:18)
College and the Troubles
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. Very many families of the students left the areas, especially in east Belfast, and the College buildings were themselves subjected to frequent sectarian attacks.
Permanent buildings were planned from 1970 and were completed by 1979, by which time the enrolment had stabilised at about 500 pupils. Throughout this period almost all the pupils were bused into school in the morning and home again straight after class in the afternoon. 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.
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). Lay staff included the BBC broadcaster Seamus McKee, and the widely acknowledged Irish poet Medbh McGuckian, both teachers in the academically and creatively strong English department.
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 enrolment of almost one thousand pupils, and the motto Gratias Agamus (Let Us Give Thanks).
Fr. Joseph Conway remained as President of the amalgamated school until 1987 when he was succeeded by Fr. Patrick McKenna, parish priest of Holy Rosary Parish, Belfast. 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 Grammar School, Downpatrick, returned to the College as principal.
Notable former pupils
- 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)
- Mark Woods - BBC and Talksport broadcaster and journalist. (Left 1990)
- Niamh Perry - competitor in the BBC1 competition I'd Do Anything, reaching the quarter final.
- Stephen Fitzpatrick, founder of OVO Energy company and owner of the Manor Racing team.
The original building was designed for approximately 800 pupils, but with an average enrolment 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.
In March 2011 all teaching transferred to the new £25 Million building.
The College was awarded Sunday Times State school of the year in November 2015
- "Knock". www.knock.co.uk. Retrieved 2009-11-26.