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.
History of the Parish' by Rev Ambrose Macauley, PP )
. . . 1973 Lagan Village School
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.
. . . St Anthony's Schools
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
. . .
1970 . . .
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
It could accommodate 250 children. Two years later, St
Anthony's Boys' School was renovated.
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
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
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.
of the Parish Schools 1938 - 1988