St Patrick's College, Belfast

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Coordinates: 54°37′52″N 5°56′13″W / 54.631°N 5.937°W / 54.631; -5.937

St Patrick's College
Coláiste Phádraig
St. Patrick's College, Belfast crest.png
116 Antrim Road, Belfast
Northern Ireland
Type Catholic High School
Motto pro deo et patria
Established 1956
Chairman of the Governing Board Very Rev. M Sheehan [1]
Headmistress Paula Stuart , B.Sc. M.Sc. D.A.S.E. P.G.C.E.
Gender single gender, all male
Age 11 to 18
Enrolment Approx. 900
Houses 3

Gold, Green and Black


St Patrick’s College, Bearnageeha (Irish: Coláiste Phádraig, Bearna na Gaoithe) is a Roman Catholic secondary school for boys aged between 11-19 situated on the Antrim Road, in Belfast, Northern Ireland. The college's catchment area encompasses the New Lodge, Ardoyne, the Antrim Road and various other areas of North Belfast. In the Autumn of 2006, St. Patrick's celebrated its golden jubilee. St Patrick's was the first Catholic secondary school in Belfast to offer A-Levels.[citation needed] The college is one of many schools and colleges throughout Ireland that has taken the name "St Patrick's", after the island's patron saint.


St. Patrick's College opened its doors for the first time on Wednesday, 31 August 1955. The school was constructed at a cost of approximately £250,000 and offered places to 450 young men, the school was built on the Antrim Road and has the address of "619".[2] The school inherited its subtitle, "Bearnageeha" from Bearnageeha House, the mansion around which the College is built.[3] The name "Bearnageeha" is phonetically derived from the Gaelic phrase "bearna gaoithe", meaning "the windy gap". While little evidence survives as to why Bearnageeha House received its name, it has been suggested that it was related to its isolated location within the original Fortwilliam Estate; surrounded by the Belfast hills.[4]

Headmasters Billy Steele and George Salters were charged with steering the school through difficult and turbulent times in the north. The modern era began with the arrival of PJ O’Grady as Headmaster in 1997. The Headmaster and his teaching staff set about reinvigorating the school; refurbishing aging wings of the campus and initiating several construction schemes in the process. PJ O’Grady retired from his position as Headmaster in August 2011. Ms Paula Stuart became Principal in September of the same year.[5]

Headmasters & Headmistress[edit]

Patrick O’Neill 1955–1960
Billy Steele 1960–1980
George Salters 1980–1997
PJ O’Grady 1997–2011
Paula Stuart 2011–Present

P.J. O'Grady retired from his role as Headmaster of Bearnageeha at the end of the 2010/11 academic year. The Board of Governors of St Patrick's College then appointed Ms Paula Stuart as Principal. Ms Stuart became the first female to hold the position. Ms Stuart was previously a science teacher at the school but then got appointed Head of Science then Vice principal at St Rose's Dominican College, Belfast.


Sport plays a central role in day-to-day life at St. Patrick's College. The school offers sports including football, hurling, soccer, handball, boxing, cross country and golf. The local sporting scene has many connections to St Patrick’s College, with students including Olympic medallist Paddy Barnes and champion boxer Ryan Burnett, both likely to be selected to fight for Ireland at the forthcoming London 2012 Olympic Games. The sports department makes regular use of local leisure centres, Mallusk Playing Fields, Cliftonville Playing Fields, Barnett’s Park, Cavehill Country Park and the Antrim Forum Athletics Track, along with the school's own sports fields and synthetic grass sports facility. In 2016 the college opened a new state of the art gym facility, it includes male and female changing rooms and a fitness suite.

In Gaelic Games, the college joined the ranks of the Ulster Colleges’ in the later part of the 1990s, competing in all age groups in Gaelic football and hurling. St. Patrick's has won a number of Ulster Colleges’ titles in both Gaelic football and hurling. The students that represent the College on the GAA front are drawn mainly from the three local clubs in north Belfast: Pearse’s, Ardoyne Kickhams and St Enda’s, Glengormley.[6]

In Soccer, all students who represent the school play in two competitions: the Belfast Schools Cup and Northern Ireland Schools Cup. The later has recently received major sponsorship with Umbro providing revenue. Many past students are now playing soccer at amateur, semi-pro and Irish League levels, while others have played in England, including Tony Kane and Martin Donnelly. Many current players are currently on trial with various Premier League, Championship and Irish League teams, including Rory Hale, Joseph Conway, Daniel Magee, Eamon Connor, Ryan McCloskey, Kevin Lynch, Cormac Mullan and Paul McAdorey.[7]

In Cross Country, utilising the nearby Cavehill Country Park for preparation, St. Patrick’s students compete on an annual basis in the B District Championships; usually held at Ormeau Park or at Queen’s University’s complex at ‘The Dub’. Students regularly qualify for the Ulster Championships, the most recent achievement being a silver medal, which won by John McKeown in Tullamore, Co. Offaly [8]

For many years the College Golf Team has participated in the Golfing Union of Ireland’s inter-school competitions. Students get the chance to compete at Under 14 and Under 18 levels. The competitions are played over 18 holes under both stroke and match play conditions. The college has participated in the GUI Winter League Ulster section [9]


The college operates a house system, which was inaugurated in 1998 during the Headmastership of PJ O'Grady. It was at this time that the first three houses were created; Trinity (year 8), Saul (year 9) and Slemish (year 10). Each house has a designated colour and students wear their house badge on their school blazers.[10] Each class in the Junior School has a rotating position of Prefect and Captain. Both Prefect and Captain wear a badge to show their position within their group [11]

Former pupils[edit]

Former pupils of St Patrick's include stained glass artist Walter Francis Clokey,[12] ( this can't be correct as he died in 1930's ) comedian John Linehan, who created the character "May McFetridge",[13] James Mulgrew, who had a successful television career as Jimmy Cricket,[14] playwright Martin Lynch, two-time Olympic medallist Paddy Barnes and the BBC Radio broadcaster and documentary maker Peter Curran. There are many famous past pupils who went to St Patrick's . Quite a few pupils became priests, and in the 1st Intake of pupils in 1955 at least 12 became teachers. Two of that intake are now retired professors .

College Departments[edit]

The college offers a wide range of subjects:

Key Stage 3/Junior School[edit]

  • English
  • Maths
  • Science
  • Religion
  • History
  • Geography
  • Music
  • Spanish
  • French
  • Irish
  • Careers
  • Learning for Life and Work
  • Art
  • Home Economics
  • ICT (information and communication technologies)
  • Drama
  • Physical Education


All of above +

  • Business Studies
  • Media Studies
  • Leisure & Tourism
  • Hospitality
  • Sports Study's
  • Creative Crafts


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  12. ^ "NIEA Property Evaluations" (PDF). Belfast City Council. 10 August 2015. Retrieved 2015-12-27. 
  13. ^ The Famous Faces of North Belfast, Northern Ireland Tourist Board, Belfast 2008
  14. ^ The Famous Faces of North Belfast, Northern Ireland Tourist Board, Belfast 2008