A HISTORY OF OUR SCHOOLS


Below is a brief history of Lagan Village and St Anthony's Schools and the nearby Cross & Passion Convent.  Sadly for the parish, these no longer exist.  The former boys' school (above) and the convent (below) have both been demolished to make way for new housing. St Anthony's Primary School has now become St Vincent's Centre; a post-primary school dedicated to the care of Young Adults.


(From 'A History of the Parish' by Rev Ambrose Macauley, PP [1988])

1870 . . . 1973 Lagan Village School

Towards the end of the 19th century, the Catholic population was increasing in the East of the City and Fr Felix McKeating, Administrator of St Matthew's, established a school at Lagan Village. This building was at Richardson Street on the Ravenhill Road and consisted of a large upstairs room which had previously been used as a school under the management of a Presbyterian Minister.

It was opened as a Catholic School in January 1870 with a staff of two teachers. By the end of the year it had a third teacher and an average attendance of over 90 pupils. Five years later the lower storey was acquired and fitted out as a classroom.

In 1920, disturbances began in the City and in May, 1922, arsonists set fire to the School and over the next few days almost demolished it. Later that year, after the violence had subsided, Lagan Village School was reconstructed and re-opened as a single-storey girls' school. For many years it also had a class of about 15 to 20 infant boys.

After St Monica's Secondary School opened, Lagan Village lost a large number of its senior girls and was then allowed to enrol boys at all levels to fill the empty places. Throughout the 1960's its enrolment stood at about 100 pupils, but the building was old with cramped conditions and still lit by gas. With the opening of the new Girls' School in Willowfield, Lagan Village School was officially closed in 1968.

During the renovation of the Boys' School in Willowfield Drive, however, some of the classes were accommodated in the old school building. Lagan Village School was eventually sold in 1973.

1913 . . . St Anthony's Schools

St Anthony's Boys' and Girls' Schools (above) were blessed and opened on 30th June 1913 and were named for St Anthony of Padua.  The boys were located upstairs and the girls, downstairs. Designed by the Belfast Architect, J J O'Donnell, the building could accommodate 350 pupils. Two sisters from the Cross & Passion Convent in Bryson St travelled daily to Willowfield to teach in the girls' school. In 1932, Willowfield House and the surrounding gardens were sold by the diocesan authorities to the Cross & Passion Order.  With the increasing number of pupils, more sisters joined the school staff and eventually ten of them moved into the newly-acquired Convent (below).

1960 . . .

In the 1960's, school enrolment had increased so much that the schools in Willowfield Drive became inadequate.  In 1966, a site was obtained in the grounds of the Convent for a separate girls' school which was opened on 30th September, 1968 (below).  It could accommodate 250 children.  Two years later, St Anthony's Boys' School was renovated.


1970 . . .

By 1970 violence had flared again in Northern Ireland and over the next period of years, parishioners were to feel vulnerable and frightened.  As families moved out of the area, school numbers dropped dramatically.  In 1978, the Convent was put up for sale and, by this time school numbers stood at 94 in total. 

It was decided to amalgamate the boys' and girls' schools in the new school building.  St Anthony's Girls' School then became St Anthony's Primary School. The Boys' school in Willowfield Drive was sold in 1982 to the Rupert Stanley College (later to become the Belfast Institute for Further & Higher Education), and was used for a number of years as an Educational Outreach Centre.

 

2000 ..

When dwindling numbers made it impossible to carry on, St Anthony's Primary School finally closed its doors in June, 2002.  In September of the same year the school re-opened as St Vincent's Centre and continues to provide for the educational needs of young people.


Principals of the Parish Schools 1938 - 1988

 

St Anthony's Boys' School
Patrick Barker
John Barr
Patrick McManus
Fintan Mulhall
Nicholas Murtagh

St Anthony's Primary School
Sister Bernadette
Sister Joseph Theresa
Sister M Matthew

St Anthony's Convent Girls' School
Sister St Francis
Sister Bernadina
Sister Bernadette

 

Lagan Village School
Miss S O'Connor
Miss E Byrne


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