St. Malachy's College

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St. Malachy's College
St. Malachy's College Front Exterior, corner.JPG
St. Malachy's College front exterior

BT15 2AE

Coordinates54°36′32″N 5°56′25″W / 54.6089°N 5.9403°W / 54.6089; -5.9403Coordinates: 54°36′32″N 5°56′25″W / 54.6089°N 5.9403°W / 54.6089; -5.9403
TypeGrammar School
MottoGloria Ab Intus
(Glory from within)
Religious affiliation(s)Roman Catholic
Established1833 (1833)
ClosedJuly – August
Local authorityBelfast Education and Library Board
PrincipalPaul McBride
Years taughtYear 8 – Year 14
Age11 to 18
Number of students1,025 (approx)
Campus sizemedium
AthleticsBadminton, Basketball, Cross country running, Gaelic, Golf, Hurling, Rugby, Soccer, Swimming, Volleyball, Waterpolo
Team nameMalachians FC

St. Malachy's College, in Belfast, Northern Ireland, is the oldest Catholic diocesan college on the island of Ireland.[1] The College motto is 'Gloria Ab Intus', 'Glory from within'.


The College opened on the feast of St. Malachy, 3 November 1833, having been founded by Bishop William Crolly four years after Catholic Emancipation and the formal, parliamentary repeal of the penal laws, which had outlawed, among other things, the celebration of the Catholic Mass, and the provision for the education of the Catholics of Ireland. [2]

The College has been on the same site since 1833. Bishop Crolly chose a site on the northern fringes of the then small Georgian town, a farm called Vicinage which today is recalled on the street next to the College - Vicinage Park. Vicinage Farm was owned by Thomas McCabe a watch maker by trade, a strong liberal voice and advocate of Penal Law reform who was also a founder member of the Society of United Irishmen. [3]

One of the glories of the College is the Chapel, built in the 1882 (at the same time as the distinctive College tower)[4] and which was significantly enhanced for the College centenary in 1933 when 32 stained glasses windows from the Harry Clarke studio were commissioned. [5] Installation took place between 1935 and 1937 and today this is one of the finest collections of stained glass in Northern Ireland. [6]

St. Joseph's Seminary, the seminary for the Diocese of Down and Connor,[7] was situated on the same campus for over a century. This was officially known as the Diocesan Seminary at St Malachy's, and colloquially as "the wing" due to it being a wing of the college building. The Diocesan Seminary moved to the Cliftonville Road during the Christmas holidays of 2012, and took the name St. Malachy's Diocesan Seminary, in recognition of the long-standing connection to the College, until its closure in 2018.

Location and campus[edit]

College front entrance
Vicinage House, an illustration inside the college, which is on the site of the historically significant house Vicinage

St. Malachy's College is located in the Water Works electoral ward of north Belfast, between two main roads (the A6 Antrim Road and the A52 Crumlin Road), close to where they meet at Carlisle Circus.

The grounds of the College are accessed primarily from a tree-lined avenue on the Antrim Road, which leads to the front quadrangle, known as "the quad". The foremost building, which comprises 3 sides of the quadrangle and faces westward, is the oldest part of the College and dates to its earliest days in the 1830s. 'A' and 'B' blocks, housing the History, Classics and Drama departments, as well as administrative offices, the Library, and the Chapel, take up much of these three sides; the remaining rooms consist of priests' apartments, abandoned dormitories and the Upper Study Hall. The more modern St. Joseph's seminary building completes the fourth side of the quadrangle. The College canteen and Music block are also accessed through the front quadrangle.

The concreted back quadrangle, bounded by the College Hall (westward), the gymnasium (northward) and the old building (southward and eastward), has in recent years been enhanced by several flower beds. The Mater Infirmorum hospital, and a small shrine to the Virgin Mary, both overlook the back quadrangle. The College Hall is the focal point of dramatic productions within the College, as well as assemblies and examinations. In recent years, the College's music department has eschewed the College Hall for its annual concerts, in favour of the more acoustically advantaged Ulster Hall in Bedford Street.

Behind the College Hall is 'D' block, completed in the 1960s, and the adjoining 'E' block, completed in the 1970s. Both consist largely of standard classrooms, with the exception of Physics laboratories on the top floor of 'D' block and Biology laboratories on the top floor of 'E' block. Since the 1980s, the second floor of 'E' block has also become home to the Computing department. The school's Lecture Theatre is on the ground floor of 'E' block.

'C' block, located to the north of 'E' block, was opened in the 1990s and replaced a row of temporary classrooms from the 1950s. It now houses the Chemistry, Art and Technology departments.

At the rear of the College grounds is the Sports Hall, the centrepiece of which is a basketball court, renovated in recent years with a multi-purpose hardwood floor. A synthetic pitch, laid in 2006, is adjacent to the Sports Hall. For security reasons, the pitch is surrounded by high walls on three sides, separating the College grounds from the former Crumlin Road prison (now a tourist site) and the residential area on the site of the former Girdwood British Army barracks on Cliftonpark Avenue.

The College celebrated its 175th Anniversary in April 2008 with a concert at the Waterfront Hall in Belfast. It also gathered the students and staff together in the College "Quad" area for a special photo which has not been taken in over 50 years for the college.


St. Malachy's is a boys' school providing education for approximately 1,200 students aged 11 to 18 with a very wide catchment area. It is the only male, Catholic, grammar school in north Belfast and students come from both areas local to the College such as Ardoyne and New Lodge, as well as more suburban Belfast and rural towns in County Antrim such as Carrickfergus, Antrim town and Randalstown.


The college has impressive records in both GCSE and A-level examinations, In 2018 it was ranked joint seventh in Northern Ireland for its GCSE performance with 99.4% of its entrants receiving five or more GCSEs at grades A* to C, including the core subjects English and Maths.[8] 82.4% of its students who sat the A-level exams in 2017/18 were awarded three A*-C grades.[9]

The college is also noted for having a strong music department and was recently designated as the first specialist music college in Northern Ireland.[10] The College is strong in mathematics and the primary sciences, with numerous alumni working in senior positions in prestigious national and international engineering and technology companies and research institutes. In recent years the College has developed a strong reputation for the arts and music and, more recently still, film/video production. [11]

The college has had many recent sporting successes, especially in athletics and basketball.[12]


The current Chairman of the Board of Governors for the College is Sir Gerry Loughran KCB.

As of 2018:

  • Principal: Paul McBride, succeeded David Lambon (2011–2014) to become the third Principal and non-clerical head of St Malachy's College, all previous heads of the school having held the title President and been ordained Catholic priests.
  • Vice Principals: Deirdre McCusker and Lois Stewart
  • Rector: Michael Spence

Former presidents[edit]

Bishop Patrick Walsh (former President of the college)
  • Canon James Clenaghan B.A., B.D. 1919–1924
  • John McCaughan B.A, B.D. B.C.L 1924 - 1931
  • James Hendley B.A, D.D. 1931 - 1939 President during Centenary celebrations in 1933.
  • Canon John McMullan, B.A., B.D. 1940–1950
  • Patrick Kerr B.A., Ph.B., S.T.L. 1950-1960. Previously French and Latin Master
  • Canon Walter Larkin, B.A., S.T.L. 1960-1970. Previously Dean of the Seminary and Mathematics Master
  • Canon Patrick Walsh, M.A., S.T.L. 1970-1983. Previously Chaplain to Queen's University, Belfast
  • Canon Noel Conway, B.Sc., B.D. 1983–1995. Previously Head of Physics
  • Donal McKeown, B.A., S.T.L., M.B.A. 1995–2001 Previously Dean of the Seminary and Religious Studies Teacher

Notable alumni[edit]




Media and Arts

Science & Engineering

  • Stephen Myers (1946-). Director of Accelerators and Technology at CERN, then Head of CERN Medical Applications. Fellow of the Institute of Physics, and of the Royal Academy of Engineering.


See also[edit]


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^ Diocese of Down and Connor
  8. ^ "Belfast Telegraph GCSE 2018". Retrieved 22 September 2018.
  9. ^ "Belfast Telegraph A-Level: Northern Ireland School League Tables 2019". Retrieved 21 March 2019.
  10. ^ Specialist Schools – Music Regional Training Unit Northern Ireland
  11. ^
  12. ^ St. Malachy’s College
  13. ^ "Belfast Cathedral appoints Roman Catholic Canon". Retrieved 13 January 2017.
  14. ^ a b c d Spencer, Clare (6 May 2011). "Why do some schools produce clusters of celebrities?". BBC News. Retrieved 6 May 2011.

External links[edit]