St Mary’s and Our Lady’s colleges to amalgamate by 2021

Sinn Féin's Cllr Cathal Ó Conchúir describes amalgamation as “commonsense and progressive educational solution”

St Mary's College.

St Mary's College.

The amalgamation of two well known city second level schools will result in the creation of a large Catholic co-educational secondary school, according to the trustees of both facilities.

In a joint statement from the trustees of both Our Lady’s College (which is already an amalgamation of the Mercy and Presentation girls’ schools ), Presentation Road, and St Mary’s College, St Mary’s Road, they said the decision came in the wake of “much discussion” and was “strongly supported” by the Department of Education and Skills.

The new school, which will be located at the St Mary’s College campus, is expected to open in September 2021.

The statement outlined that the new school would bring together the “long” and “distinguished” traditions of the Mercy and Presentation sisters with those of St Mary’s Diocesan College. “Both Our Lady’s College and St Mary’s College will continue in their present locations and under their present managements until September 2021.”

Sinn Féin Galway City West councillor Cathal Ó Conchúir this week described the amalgamation of the two city schools as a “commonsense and progressive educational solution”.

“For many observers this was the most advantageous educational path to follow on many levels. It is a road that should have been travelled a long time ago. Nevertheless, I now want to wish the new amalgamated body and its leaders a fantastic future. I am confident that it is the best move for both schools, and I am optimistic that the new school will enhance the educational options in Galway.”

The Sinn Féin city councillor said for some time, the city has needed another “progressive” co-educational Catholic school along the lines of the education provided by Coláiste Éinde, Coláiste Iognáid SJ, and all the Galway and Roscommon Education and Training Board (GRETB ) schools. He stated that he firmly believed that the philosophy of single sex education belonged to the 19th century and no longer met the needs of today’s diverse modern society.

“At this time, it would be wrong not to salute the efforts and success of our single sex second level schools. Schools which have for many years provided exemplary education to so many of our citizens. However, it has been apparent for some time that we needed to broaden our educational horizons and develop a progressive solution that better reflects the realities of our ever-evolving society. I believe today’s news heralds the beginning of a great new educational institution in our city.”

With the Department of Education yet to identify a site for the new Educate Together secondary school for Galway city, a Green Party local election candidate has called for the school to be located in the west side of the city.

Green Party Galway City West candidate Pauline O’Reilly said the amalgamation represented the coming together of three Roman Catholic schools, since Our Lady’s College is a union of two all-girls schools. She added that the move highlights the “serious lack of diversity of patronage on the west side of the city”.

She is calling for the new Educate Together second level school, which is expected to open in September but for which a site has not yet been been earmarked, to be located on the west side of the city.

“Galway parents are desperately calling out for a multi-denominational school. Parents want more options in the west of the city,” she said. “I believe strongly that with several non-Catholic schools, such as two Educate Together schools, one Steiner school, and St Nicholas Parochial School, the time is right for the second level Educate Together to be located in the west side of the city, which would also serve areas such as Moycullen.”

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