A brief History of St Fergal’s College.
St. Fergal’s College has educated many generations of people from the local and surrounding area since its foundation in 1937.
Adult Domestic Economy and Woodwork classes were held in the Ossory Agricultural Society hall (where the Showground’s housing estate is now located) in 1931. The first Day Vocational School was conducted upstairs in Miss Holland’s house (now McCarthy’s old shop beside the Convent gates).
Twenty-seven students attended day classes and ninety- two adults attended evening classes. Men were taught carpentry whilst women were taught Domestic Science in preparation for leaving home. So began the continuation of national education in Rathdowney. The classes were conducted in several temporary locations before moving to the present site of the Conoboro Road.
A committee was established and the site (which was then known as the Circus field ) was eventually purchased for £27 and a plan was drawn up, initially for a four roomed school, however the department opted for the construction of a three room school instead. It was completed in 1937 and housed three rooms: a Domestic Science room (now room 5), a Science room (now room 3) and a Woodwork room (now room 2).
The Technical School had only three teachers in 1937. Mr Patrick Hoare was the Principal, Mr Larkin was the Woodwork/carpentry teacher and Miss O’Reilly was the Domestic Economy teacher. Martin Whelan started as the caretaker and continued to care for the school grounds for fifty years. The subjects offered were Rural Science, Woodwork, Mechanical Drawing, Domestic Science, English, Irish and Maths.
The next development occurred in 1965, when a Metalwork room and a Commerce room were added to the existing building. Shorthand, Typing and Metalwork were added to the school’s curriculum.
Two additional general purpose rooms built.
Students sat the Intermediate Certificate for the first time. That year saw the appointment of the first ever Deputy Principal in the school, Mr Tom Daly.
In 1972 students sat the Leaving Certificate for the first time. Students could now complete their second-level education without leaving Rathdowney.
The introduction of uniforms occurred in the mid-1980.
In 1987 (the 50th anniversary) a new building was started to provide general purpose classrooms, Science, Construction Studies, Iinformation Technology, a General Purpose Room and administration facilities.
St. Fergal’s College, as it was known from 1989 on, was officially opened in February 1989 by Minister Mary O’Rourke. The 1989-90 school year commenced with 470 students attending St. Fergal’s. The following year the student population continued to grow and the count topped the 500 mark for the first time ever.
Mr Michael Dillane retired as Principal in 1991 and was replaced by Mr Andy Shortall.
The mid 1990’s saw the Parent’s’ Council begin fund raising to purchase a field for sports activities.
Another building was constructed with three general classrooms and a Science room.
4.7 acres behind the school was purchased providing sufficient room for two large pitches and a training area.
A Home Economics and a sScience demonstration room added to the 1996 building. The school complex now consisted of five pre-fabricated rooms and twenty one conventional rooms housed in three separate buildings.
Ms Aine O’Neill became Principal in March 2003. She was the school’s first female principal.
Mr Tom Daly retired as Deputy Principal and was succeeded by Mr Seán Conroy
Seventy five years, after the first classes were held on the site, a new building was completed, adding three new class rooms, a science room, an art room, new meeting rooms and offices; and, most importantly, joining up all the buildings into one school building.
Ms. O Neill retired as Principal and was succeeded at the beginning of the academic year 2018/19 by Mr. Dominic McEvoy.
In 2020 Mr. McEvoy retired and was replaced by Mr. Gerry Quinn.
At the start of the school year in 2021 enrolment increased from 301 to 331.
Mr. Seán Conroy retired as Deputy Principal and was succeeded by Mrs Carole Devine at the beginning of the 2022/23. school year. Ms Devine is a former pupil of the school and its first female Deputy Principal.