One hundred and sixty years ago on Saturday, September 8, 1858, the Dominican sisters opened their school on Taylor’s Hill. Three years before that, they had taken over a house there known as Seaview (sometimes known as Mount Eaton ), which belonged to the Sloper family; a simple country house with eight rooms, a medley of kitchen premises to the rear, stables behind the house, and with it, five acres of land.
The sisters showed some enterprise in the line of farming and this quickly became vital to their work helping Famine victims. They set up a special kitchen which fed hundreds of people every day. Many of the young girls who came were given the rudiments of education. When the urgent need to provide food passed, these girls continued to come to the convent, so the sisters opened a small elementary school. They had two pupils on that first day, and by the end of the year, the number had risen to 30. Since then the sisters have worked largely in the field of education.
The pupil numbers increased rapidly, and in 1859 a new boarding school was constructed. The numbers of sisters also increased to 35 in a building that might house 20; they were badly lodged in the refectory, the kitchen, the choir, and other offices, so it was decided to build a convent and this was done c1876. Our photograph (courtesy The Chetham Library in Manchester ) was taken about that time and shows the boarding school on the left, the convent in the centre, and the original Seaview house in the background on the right.
In the year 1900, a new four storey school with a balcony around the top storey was built. In 1958, the sisters constructed a major extension to the secondary school which included the Rosary Hall. They closed the boarding school in 1975, the final departure of boarders taking place in June of that year. The following year they built a new primary school which they called Scoil Róis. It was located in ‘Delia’s Field’. Finally in 2007, they replaced the secondary school with a new building.
Today, between the primary and secondary schools, the pupil numbers are more than 1,300. The Dominican Sisters have been in Galway since 1644 and their contribution to the quality of life here since is incalculable.