St Colman's College, Newry

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St. Colman's College
St Colman's College crest.jpeg
46 Armagh Road

, ,
BT35 6PP

Coordinates54°11′24″N 6°20′30″W / 54.190050°N 6.341655°W / 54.190050; -6.341655Coordinates: 54°11′24″N 6°20′30″W / 54.190050°N 6.341655°W / 54.190050; -6.341655
MottoBonitas, Disciplina, Scientia (Latin)
Religious affiliation(s)Roman Catholic
Local authoritySELB
PrincipalMr Cormack McKinney
Age11 to 18
Enrolmentc. 900
Colour(s)Dark blue, grey & light blue               

St Colman's College is a Roman Catholic English-medium grammar school in Newry, County Armagh, Northern Ireland. Now named in honour of Colmán of Dromore, it was founded in 1823 as the Dromore Diocesan Seminary by Father J. S. Keenan. The College stands on Violet Hill, the same 60 acre (243,000 m²) site it has occupied since 1829, adjacent to the Bishop of Dromore's residence.


It currently has over 900 students attending.

St. Colman's is renowned in Irish sport as a particular nursery for Gaelic footballers for both Down and Armagh. In 2011 the College's senior Gaelic football team was Ulster and All-Ireland champions.[1]

Aims of the college[edit]

Every boy carries the aims of the College, "Bonitas, Disciplina, Scientia", on his blazer pocket badge:

  • Bonitas : to encourage moral uprightness and good citizenship; to develop a rounded personality
  • Disciplina : to instill through the operation of the school's discipline, that self-discipline necessary for success both in school and in the world of work; to equip each student with a set of attitudes and ideals for the shaping of his life
  • Scientia : to encourage the highest academic achievement of which the individual is capable


In 2018, 82.3% of its entrants achieved five or more GCSEs at grades A* to C, including the core subjects English and Maths.[2] Also in 2018, 86% of its entrants to the A-level exam achieved A*-C grades.[3]


Gaelic football[edit]

The College has a long and distinguished history in Gaelic football winning the premier colleges' trophy, the Hogan Cup, eight times in 1967, 1975, 1986, 1988, 1993, 1998, 2010 and 2011. Only St Jarlath's College, Tuam has won the All-Ireland competition on more occasions. The college remains the most successful Ulster college winning the MacRory Cup for the 19th time in 2011.

Other sports[edit]

Other sports offered at the College include, but are not limited to:

  • handball
  • basketball
  • golf – St Colman's were Irish & Ulster Schools Champions in 1992 and former past pupil's Rory Leonard & Hilary Armstrong are current and former Irish Internationals. In 2017 St Colman's reached the Darren Clarke School Golf League Final in Lisburn Golf Club. They won on the day 3.5-3.5, winning by holes won.
  • hurling
  • rugby union



The school has a sixty-member orchestra, run by the music teachers and with the help of additional instrumental tuition from local musicians. The school also has two string quartets, a flute quintet, a woodwind quintet, a brass quintet and a band. St Colman's also won the 2005, 2013 and 2014 Newry Feis Orchestra group Cup.


The school choir has been actively involved in music making both at a local and national level since its formation in 1987. Throughout that period it has accepted invitations to work with St George’s Singers, Belfast and the Ulster Orchestra. In 1995, the choir accepted an invitation to the Irish College in Paris and Le Bec-Hellouin, mother house of the Order of Saint Benedict of Holy Cross Abbey, Rostrevor.

The choir has extensive experience in radio and television broadcasts. It has taken part in six editions of Morning Service for BBC Radio Ulster, broadcast live from the College's Chapel and St Brigid’s Church, Newry. The trebles have performed live in Broadcasting House, Belfast as part of BBC Radio Ulster’s Sounds Classical. The choir has also recorded with BBC Northern Ireland for the programmes O Little Town and Our Wee World. The choir were winners of the Southern Grammar School Regional Heat of the UTV School Choir of the Year 2005.

Also in 2005, they were invited to take part in the 20th anniversary of Sing Carols which was broadcast on BBC NI and BBC Radio Ulster. Their live BBC Radio Ulster’s performance of Elaine Agnew's commissioned work Blessed was used on the promotional CD for the European Chamber Orchestra's educational programme throughout the European Union.

Notable concert works include:

  • 2012 - Advent and the Nativity by Bruckner, Lauridsen, Pärt, Lawson & Ord
  • 2010 - Haydn: Missa brevis Sancti Joannis de Deo
  • 2008 - Rutter: Magnificat
  • 2006 - Mozart: Requiem
  • 2004 - Fauré: Requiem
  • 2002 - Pergolesi: Magnificat
  • 2000 - Millennium Carol Service
  • 1998 - Fauré: Requiem


The College Chapel proudly holds a two-manual pipe organ, originally built by Rieger Orgelbau and rebuilt and installed in the college chapel by Kenneth Jones & Associates, for the use of the students.

Traditional Group[edit]

The Traditional Group at the College is not just a music group, it is a social hub that spans across Years 8- 14. The students meet at break-time on Tuesdays and Fridays and the senior students meet during lunch-time on Wednesdays and Fridays.

The traditional group are fortunate to have two All-Ireland standard Uilleann pipers, two button accordion players, two mandolin players, six tin whistlers, a fiddler, a bodhrán player and a guitarist. Several students play more than one instrument allowing the group to explore a number of timbres when making music.

Other activities[edit]


St Colman's has a successful history in quizzing, becoming Northern Irish champions on multiple occasions in each of the three main competitions : Junior Schools' Challenge (u-13), Senior Schools' Challenge and the Ulster Schools Quiz.[citation needed]


The school also regularly engages on trips and excursions. Language students often go to the country whose language they are learning, both as part of an educational trip with the school, and as part of student exchange programmes - such as recent trips to Salamanca, Spain.

In addition to educationally oriented trips, there some other general excursions. An example of this would be the two ski trips that occur every second year for any student interested in going.

There are also numerous field trips connected with educational courses, such as trips to Murlough Nature Reserve, as part of A-Level Geography.


On Monday 14 January 2008, 15 new classrooms and a multi-purpose hall became available for student use A refurbishment of the existing College building and classrooms was completed in 2009, with all classrooms now equipped with interactive whiteboards. In addition to this, the grounds were further developed with two tennis courts, 60 additional car parking spaces for students and teachers, and a hard surface play area.

Previous developments[edit]

  • Late 1950s/Early 1960s: Major extension added to the existing school
  • 7 June 1972: A further extension added to the College opened on this day
  • 10 June 1994: Two new sciences rooms and a Design & Technology block opened
  • 1999: Eight existing science rooms refurbished
  • August 2005: Design & Technology suite refurbished
  • 12 October 2005: New sports hall officially opened

Abuse scandal[edit]

In October 2017, the Diocese of Dromore settled the "biggest ever pay-out in a historical abuse case in Northern Ireland" over claims that Fr Malachy Finnegan, who was head of the college between 1976 and 1987, sexually abused a pupil.[4] Finnegan, who died in 2002, was the subject of twelve abuse allegations made between 1994 and 2016.[5][6]

Notable former pupils[edit]


  1. ^ "Classy St Colman's Newry ease to Hogan Cup triumph". 10 April 2010. Retrieved 2010-05-24.
  2. ^ "Belfast Telegraph GCSE 2018". Retrieved 22 September 2018.
  3. ^ "A-Level: Northern Ireland School League Table 2018". Retrieved 23 September 2018.
  4. ^ Morris, Allison. "Victim of paedophile priest secures biggest ever pay-out". The Irish News. Retrieved 2018-02-17.
  5. ^ "Father Finnegan abuse is a dark cloud on Newry school". ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 2018-02-17.
  6. ^ "Fr Malachy Finnegan was 'accused of 12 abuse cases'". Retrieved 2018-02-17.
  7. ^ "Newry College Had Key Role In Founding G.A.A." Retrieved 13 January 2017.
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^ Newry Memoirs: "Newry College Had Key Role In Founding GAA"; accessed 2 May 2009