The History of Mercy Secondary School, Kilbeggan

by Sr Immaculata

The Declaration on Christian Education propounds the philosophy of the Church with regard to a Christian education. One of the ideals is ‘to create in the school community an atmosphere permeated with the Gospel Spirit of freedom and love’. So that their pupils’ spiritual development will be fostered through religious instruction, the sisters of Mercy in Kilbeggan have given Mass, Sacraments, Prayer and Religious Education an important place in their schools. The aim of the Sisters of Mercy is to ensure that fundamental Christian values will be passed on to pupils to help them live according to the values of justice, truth and charity in the new materialistic society.

Free secondary education and free transport to schools were introduced in this country in 1967. There has been free secondary education here in Kilbeggan since 1948: it was free in the sense that the fees charged were so low that most families who lived near a secondary school could always, with only a small sacrifice, secure a secondary education for their children. Religious Communities and the Sisters of Mercy have a long history of dedication to raising the level of education of the young people of Ireland. They build their schools in conjunction with the Department of Education to benefit the community and to realise the ambitions of parents to give their children the best education possible, at a low cost and in many cases there was no cost at all and all this was possible only through the frugal way which the sisters followed.
 
The Kilbeggan Secondary School testifies to the courage, vision and education skills of Mother Philomena McDonald. She started the Secondary School in a couple of shabby rooms in the National School in 1948. The school furniture was old, text-books were scarce and the rooms were often cold and draughty. Within two years the pupils were ready to sit for the Intermediate Examinations and every one of them passed with honours and in 1952 when the first Leaving Certificate Examination was held there was one hundred per cent success. They have never looked back since.
 
The reputation of the Secondary School attracted many new pupils and more room was needed. It was decided to build a new National School and to renovate the old one for the Secondary pupils. A fund-raising committee was formed and money was raised for the new school in a number of ways – raffles, flag-days, sales of work and annual card-drives in St. James’s Hall. The card-drives were a great success – the hardworking local committee saw to that – and they were important social events for the people of the parish. Enough money was raised by the end of 1954 to start work on the building which also incorporated a Dining Hall where the pupils cold have their lunch in comfort.
 
In 1964 the Secondary School became co-education, one of the first convent schools in Ireland to admit boys. Co-education meant an extension of the curriculum and called for more accommodation and extra facilities. New Classrooms were built, a Metal-work Room was built and equipped in 1967 and in 1970 a Wood-work Room was erected. With classes growing all the time, teachers were appointed and a comfortable staff-room was built for them in 1974; the same year a Geography room was added. The equipment in all of these class-rooms was second to none. A former teacher, who had taught in several schools in Dublin and the midlands said that the Science Room in Kilbeggan was one of the best equipped that she ever saw.
 
In addition to providing increased facilities for traditional education, in 1979 two classrooms and a Library have been erected – amenities for physical training received more attention. The importance of physical training in the development of the student is recognised and playing fields, pitches and a gymnasium became part of the school complex.
 
In the 1980’s numbers of pupils increased, consequently more teachers were employed and more class-rooms became a necessity. Two classrooms, offices for administration and a most modern Computer Room were added. A secretary and caretaker were employed. Classes were offered at night for Adult Education.
 
European languages became very important and three language teachers were employed. Tours to European countries were organised. Inter-school games for both and boys and girls were introduced on a large scale. Agricultural Science, Physics, Construction Studies, Music and Art were introduced to the curriculum. In the early 1990’s a new Cookery Room was erected.
 
In 1999 the first lay Principal was appointed to the school. In 2005 three new pre-fab class-rooms were added due to increasing numbers. Kilbeggan Secondary School has kept abreast with all the educational change of the last century and into the new millennium.
 
May the work of Mercy Secondary School, Kilbeggan bear fruit in this world and the next.

List of Past Principals: -

  • 1948-1962 Sr. Philomena
  • 1962-1986 Sr. Aphonsus
  • 1986-1990 Sr. Immaculata
  • 1990-1991 Sr. Sacred Heart
  • 1991-1992 Sr. Immaculata
  • 1992-1999 Sr. Pius
  • 1999-2007 Catherine Moynihan
  • 2007-          Garrett Farrell

List of Major Events

  • 1948 – Secondary Education Commenced
  • 1952 – First Leaving Cert Exam.
  • 1954 – Building of Dining Hall.
  • 1964 – Co-educational School.
  • 1965 – Bantile Built.
  • 1967 – Metalwork Room Built.
  • 1970 – Woodwork Room Built.
  • 1974 – Staff Room/Prayer Room Built.
  • 1979 – Rooms 4,5, & 6 Built
  • 1986 – French Room Built
  • 1989 – Computer Room Built
  • 1997 – Home Economics Room Built
  • 1999 – First Lay Principal
  • 2005 – Rooms 30, 31 & 32 Built
  • 2008 – Rooms 33, 34, 35 & Dressing Rooms Built
  • 2009 – Autism Class, All Weather Pitch and Path Around Field
  • 2010 – School Fire, Art Room re-roofed, Science Room renovated, New Basketball court
  • 2011 -  New MTW/Construction Room built, New DCG Room, New Main Corridors, New Canteen Area,2nd                         Autism Class.
  • 2014 - Rooms 39,40,41 & 42 Added.
  • 2015 - New School Commitment from DES