History of the School

Holy Redeemer Girls School

The Redeemer Girls School began in 1965 under the management of the Sisters of Mercy and as
the Holy Redeemer Parish began with the completion of the Church of the Holy Redeemer in
1969, the school also began with the building of a permanent home in 1971 in Ard Easmuinn.
The Redeemer Girls School has continued hand in hand with the Church as an essential part of
the community to this very day.

Sr. Teresina was principal of the school when it moved from Marion Park on September 1st
1971. With 275 girls on the register, the school was already as significant presence in the parish
and within a couple of years the school had to double in size, physically, to accommodate the
growing numbers. Over the years most of the students in the school have come from the
families mostly from Ard Easmuinn and Coxes Desmesne and sometimes when meeting people,
it seems that during the 1970’s every second person in Dundalk went to the Redeemer schools.

From their earliest days the School and the Parish have been intertwined in the formation of the
faith of the children of the Parish. Most of the children at the school begin their journey when
they are baptised in the Church of the Holy Redeemer and it is a short period of three years
before they enter the Early Start programme. For most of us the great shared experiences of
primary school are the sacraments of First Penance and Holy Communion and Confirmation.
Each year the priests, the teachers and the families wait in eager anticipation for the dates of the
Communion and Confirmation. It is a testament to the importance of these sacraments to
families, that all other events in their lives are planned to avoid conflict with these dates. Holy
Communion is an unique, but shared memory for all who have gone through the Irish primary
school through the generations. Currently the school works with the Parish through the ‘Do
This is Memory’ programme to prepare children for this special day in Spring. It is the strong
relationship between the school and the parish that ensures its success.

Over the years the school has always been part of the innovations of Irish education. We have
opened one of the first special classes attached to a mainstream school, opened one of only two
Early Start preschool programme in County Louth, and became part of the DEIS initiative. We
have always found a willing supporter in the parish and the patron and there is no doubt that
each of these, and other initiatives, are part of the broader mission of the church and school to
providing quality education to all members of the parish and the broader community.

The school has a unique tradition of music begun by Fr. Mc Nally and this has given number of
children the chance to explore their musical talents. Some have gone on to great success, such as
the Corr family and Briege McGoldrick. The school continues this tradition today through Music
Generation and the Redeemer School Ensemble. Recently the church has been the host venue
for the annual Séinn concert. At Séinn, the schools of the Diocese, in Louth, come together to
celebrate their faith through song as part of Catholic Schools week. It is a joyous occasion and
one that the church is ideally suited for and each year we, as the Redeemer Girls School are
proud to a part of.

At Confirmation the sixth class students complete their final part of becoming full members of
the faith. It is another wonderful occasion for the school and parish and the teachers once again
work closely with the priests to make it a special day. As the Archbishop confirms them, it is also
a poignant reminder that they are about to leave the school, where they have spent eight (or nine
if they were in the Early Start) happy years, and move on to one of the local secondary schools
and begin their transition to lives as adults.

The school has faced its share of difficult times over the years and each of its principals have
been able to rely on the support and guidance of the priests of the parish, especially those who
have been Chairs of the Board of Management. The work of Chairperson of a school is often
unseen to the majority of people in a parish, but is vital to the support and success of the school.
When the school or it families face loss we turn, once again, to the priests to provide support
and meaning as we grieve in the most difficult of times.

As the Parish has changed over the years so has the school. Anne Redahan, who succeeded Mrs.
Rose Leonard as principal, remembers that in the 1970s a large family was considered to have
fifteen plus children, and within a few years of opening, the enrolment went from 275 to a peak
of over 600 in 1980. As the young families who moved into the area matured and their children
moved on into secondary schools, the school saw a steady reduction the in the number enrolled
from 187 in 1994 to around 100 in 2004, where it has remained. A nun hasn’t taught in the
school many years, the chairperson of the Board, Eamonn P. O’Boyle is a lay person, and its first
male teacher is now the principal. Whilst my predecessor, Anne McCabe, would have welcome a
generation of children whose mothers went to the school, I am meeting the generation whose
grandparents went there. Each comes through the door with old memories and, often,
fascinating stories that add to our understanding of the history of the school.

Soon the Holy Redeemer Parish Schools will be celebrating our own fiftieth anniversary in the
Ard Easmuinn buildings. In a rapidly changing Irish society, both School and Parish face
significant challenges for the future. We know that we face our challenges together, striving to
fulfil our common mission, to support the families of our parish.