About St. Mary's

Mission Statement

St. Mary's is a community which is proud of its Catholic tradition and is committed to developing each person's full potential in a positive, supportive and Christian environment. We invite everyone to participate and we urge everyone to contribute. 

Our 600 students, representing all levels of academic ability, are taught an extensive range of subjects supported by excellent facilities in a spacious and well maintained school surrounded by extensive grounds.

We strive to ensure a warm, caring and cheerful learning environment for our students and staff.

What we Treasure

  1. Promoting Spiritual & Human Development - we believe that a knowledge of and a personal relationship with Jesus Christ gives meaning and purpose in our lives.
  2. Achieving Quality in Teaching & Learning - we are committed to excellence and to continually improving the quality of teaching & learning.
  3. Showing Respect for Every Person - we respect the unique and intrinsic value  of every person.
  4. Creating Community - Our schools are faith communities of welcome and hospitality where Gospel values are lived and where there is a special care for those most in need.
  5. Being Just & Responsible - we seek to act justly and responsible in all our relationships

The Story of St. Mary’s

Catherine McAuley, foundress of the Sisters of Mercy, was a pioneer in Irish Education. Her primary objective was the relief, education and protection of the poor. The Sisters of Mercy took up residence in New Ross is 1853, initially in Priory Street, and from 1856 in South Street. The move to South Street made it possible for the Sisters to become involved in the provision of education at Primary and Secondary level (Junior and Senior Departments).

The Senior Department began in 1856 as a private day secondary school teaching English, Arithmetic, needlework, knitting, lace-making, deportment, elocution and Religion. It was known as St. Mary’s, an "Academy for Young Ladies" and had about 6-7 pupils in each class. In 1917 it became a secondary school for the first time by entering the examination system of the then Intermediate Board prior to the foundation of the Irish Free State when all of Ireland was part of the United Kingdom. Curriculum: Irish, English, Maths, History, Geography, Home Economics, Crafts, Art, Music, Religion, Commerce and Typing. It continued as a secondary school under the Department of Education after the founding of the State and in 1926 opened  a Boarding School to complement the Day School.

Sr. Mary Antonia Doyle, a native of Wexford town, was the first Principal of this school. The first lay teachers to join the secondary staff were Miss Frances [Fran] Riordan in 1927 and Miss Kay Bolger in 1932.

Throughout the nineteen-thirties, forties and fifties the number of pupils steadily increased necessitating a move to the premises of the old St. Joseph National School in Michael Street from 1945. The introduction in 1967 of Free Secondary Education for day pupils by the then Minister for Education, Donagh O’Malley, was adopted by the Mercy Sisters which resulted in a dramatic increase in pupil numbers and the need to find more extensive premises. At that time the former Good Shepherd Convent in the Irishtown came on the market and was purchased by the Sisters. The school premises were transferred to the Irishtown in 1968. The first male teacher, Mr. Seamus Doyle, was appointed at this time.

Occupying at first part of the original Good Shepherd Convent premises (the Old School) the school soon needed additional accommodation due to the continued increase in pupil numbers. The Boarding School closed in 1977 and its premises were used for a time by the extending day school. In 1981 an extension to the school premises (the New School) was blessed and opened. This extension consisted of a number of general classrooms and specialist rooms for Science, Home Economics, Art, Music and Drama.

The 1980's saw a continued increase in student numbers. Two new classrooms – "The Bungalow" – were built in 1984. In 1993 an international-size Sports Hall with changing rooms, showers, toilets and dining area was blessed and opened. In addition, some new classrooms and a second science room were built. In the summer of 1994 the Old Assembly Hall was converted into four classrooms and another classroom was converted into a Technology and Technical Graphic room.

In the summer of 2003 a new Administration Suite was developed. In 2005 a new entrance lobby was opened alongside a student social area. Throughout the school a number of Pastoral Care/ Learning Support rooms have been developed in accordance with the Mercy Philosophy of Education. In 2006, to mark the 150 years of St. Mary’s, a beautiful Commemorative Garden was established along the Sports Hall Avenue and a major redecoration of the whole school began as  well as phased improvement of the existing facilities.

In 2008  grant aid from the Dormant Accounts fund and financial support from our Parents' Council saw the library relocated to a central position in the school and further developed and adapted to the needs of a modern progressive school.

Since 1856 ownership of St Mary's and responsibility for the quality of its educational service have rested with the Sisters of Mercy. The Mercy Congregation have been part of a collaborative project with four other congregations to transfer their secondary schools - including St Mary's - to a new trustee body called CEIST, which took over from the congregations the trusteeship of 112 voluntary schools throughout the country.

CEIST aims to continue to nurture and support the Catholic ethos of St Mary's and other similar schools so that a values-based education can continue to be available as a choice to parents and young people in the Irish educational system. The CEIST Charter, which could be summarised in the following quotation, expresses the values we endeavour to live out in school;

"Opening minds to the lifelong search for a wisdom that is deeper than information, for an understanding of life that goes beyond knowledge, for an appreciation of the dignity of the other that is respectful of difference" - Mons. Dermot Lane

Welcome to this CEIST school. However, to its students past and present and to its associates, the school is likely to remain known as "the Mercy" – an appropriate title for an establishment that owes its existence and extraordinary development to the Sisters of Mercy, New Ross.

Principals of St. Mary’s:

Sister Mary Antonia Doyle : 1919-1930 approx.

Sister Mary Josephine Conway : 1930 approx.–1959

Sister Mary Oliver Aspel : 1959-1971

Sister Mary Perpetua Kilroy : 1971-1976

Sister Mary Hartley (formerly de Lourdes) : 1976-1982

Sister Maureen Freyne : 1982-1987

Sister Margaret Quirke, F.C.J. : 1987-1992

Sister Mary Clancy S.S.L : 1992-2001

Mr. Gerard Watchorn : 2001-2003

Mr. Gene O’Sullivan : 2003-2011

Mr. John Michael Porter : 2011-

Deputy Principals of St. Mary’s

Mrs. Louise Hennessy : 1971-2000

Mr. Gene O’Sullivan : 2000-2003

Mrs. Maureen Carroll : 2003-2008

Mr Paul Deavy (Acting) September-October 2008

Mrs Eva Duhig : 2008-


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