Rathmore Grammar School

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Coordinates: 54°33′00″N 5°59′31″W / 54.550°N 5.992°W / 54.550; -5.992

Rathmore Grammar School, Belfast Scoil an Rátha Mhóir, Béal Feirste
Rathmore crest.png
Kingsway, Belfast, County Antrim, Northern Ireland
Type Voluntary Grammar
Motto Ut Vitam Habeant (That they may have life)
Religious affiliation(s) Roman Catholic
Closed July - September
LEA Belfast Education and Library Board
Principal Mrs. Thérèse Hamilton
Gender Co-educational
Age 11 to 18
Number of students 1269
School Years Year 8 - Year 14
Vice Principal Dr Arthur Donnelly

Rathmore Grammar School, normally referred to simply as "Rathmore", is a Catholic grammar school in Finaghy, Belfast, Northern Ireland. The current principal is Thérèse Hamilton who succeeded Sr. Ursula Canavan as principal at the beginning of academic year 2009/10. It is one of the leading grammar schools in Northern Ireland and is one of the top four over subscribed schools in the country.

Rathmore is situated in Kingsway, Finaghy, Belfast, behind the St. Anne's "campus", consisting of St. Anne's Primary School, Parish Church, and Parish Centre. It is hidden from view from the nearby Upper Lisburn Road.

Rathmore Grammar School is paired with the Nicolaus-Cusanus-Gymnasium in Bonn and Colegio de San Jose in Madrid.


Rathmore began as a stately home, built by Belfast businessman Victor Coates for his family, but the house was passed to the local Bishop who in turn sold it to the Religious of the Sacred Heart of Mary. The RSHM used the house as a convent, where they began a school for girls. Sometime later, a major development project surrounded the convent with school buildings.

New era[edit]

The new courtyard, the central part of the school. The drama/lecture theatre is situated here, and can be seen in the background.

More recently, a new school building was designed by a past pupil of the school. The new building was completed in time for the school year beginning September 2005. This project included the restoration of the convent, which now houses History, Politics and Religious Education.

With the new building, a new C2k computer network was installed, along with interactive whiteboards in every classroom. Each member of staff and pupil has their own user account with email, and can access their personal files and email from home, via the C2KNI.net website. It is a Promethean Centre of Excellence, one of two in Belfast.[citation needed]

In 2015, it was awarded the 'Sunday Times School of the Year' award. It was the first year that the school had entered the competition.


Rathmore has a rich history in Gaelic games, winning the All-Ireland senior C title in 2006/7. Within Ulster, Rathmore has competed in the McLarnon Cup in Gaelic football and the Casement Cup in hurling, winning both in 2008 and 2012 respectively. In 2010, Rathmore 4th years won the Leopold Cup in hurling, defeating Belfast neighbors St. Malachy's in the final.They have also tasted success in basketball with the u16 boys winning the Northern Ireland Cup in 2012 and finishing 2nd place the previous year.[1]

Recent events[edit]

In October 2006, past pupil Maeve Kilpatrick won the UK multimedia presentation category of the DYP 2006 competition, with her Microsoft PowerPoint presentation about her art campaign in the school the previous year. The presentation incorporated pictures, music and dialogue which she performed herself. Maeve and Mrs Keag, the art teacher who oversaw the entry, went to Brussels in November 2006 as part of their prize.[citation needed]

Rathmore has also had significant success in the Sentinus Engineering Education Scheme working with local company Phoenix Natural Gas and run by Physics teacher Mr Kieran Doherty. In 2005, the team composed of Caron Malone, Daniel Evans and Barbara Fleming swept the Seagate young innovators competition winning, most notably, the Intel award of excellence and going on to win a trip to the United States to represent Ireland in the next stage of the competition - Intel ISEF. They also had success in 2006, winning the Young engineers for Britain competition for 17- to 19-year -lds.[citation needed]

From September 2007, Rathmore closed its Amnesty International branch. In April 2007, Amnesty International changed its stance on abortion from one which was neutral to one supporting access to abortion in cases of rape and incest, and when the life or the health of the mother might be threatened. Amnesty claim that they "do not promote abortion as a universal right" but "support the decriminalisation of abortion". The principal of the School, Sister Ursula Canavan, acknowledged and appreciates the great work that Amnesty does but feared that continuing to support Amnesty conflicts with the school's Catholic ethos. "I could not continue as a school promoting life and, at the same time, encourage the pupils to be involved in Amnesty." The school's motto states "I have come so that they may have life, and have it to the fullest".

It was revealed in March 2009 that Sister Ursula Canavan would step down from her post. She was succeeded by vice-principal Mrs. Hamilton who assumed her role as principal of Rathmore in August 2009. Sister Ursula Canavan was the last of the nuns from the Sacred Heart of Mary to have been principal of the school.[citation needed]

In April 2010, the school debating team (Conor Heaney and Davin Clarke) won the Northern Ireland Schools Debating Championship, defeating the team from the Royal Belfast Academical Institution in the final at Stormont. It was the first time a team from the school had reached the final of the competition. They spoke in Opposition to the motion 'This House Would Welcome Being Part of a European Federal State'. In 2012, another debating team (Brendan Kelters and Christopher Matthews) progressed to the semi-finals, with Brendan nominated for the competition's Best Speaker award. Christopher was nominated the following year and was placed runner up.

In March 2013, Rathmore hosted a world record attempt for the most people simultaneously wearing paper hats. This was held in connection with the school's annual Trócaire campaign.

Northern Irish footballer and Linfield F. C. captain Michael Gault taught Physical Education at the school as part of his PGCE placement.

Notable former teaching staff[edit]

Notable former pupils[edit]


  1. ^ "BT Ulster Colleges". Match Report. 
  2. ^ "SF candidate: Bairbre de Brun". BBC News. 2004-05-18. Retrieved 2010-05-22. 
  3. ^ Northern Ireland Assembly - Biography - Davy Hyland
  4. ^ "Ian Pearson, Futurologist". Archived from the original on 2012-07-22. 

External links[edit]