By Sarah Mac Donald - 07 May, 2014
In his address to hundreds of students of St Louis High School in Rathmines, the President told them that wherever they might find themselves in the world in future years, “you will always remain connected in a profound way to the people you share this hall with today.”
He said that in the years to come, they may not remember all of the mathematical theorems they learnt, or the French verbs or the Irish poetry, but “you will remember the friendships, the support and the security that came with knowing you were part of the St Louis family.”
The President noted that several generations of women spent their formative years in the school and had gone on to make their mark in the worlds of business, public service, education, health, law and many other areas, “in the process making enormously valuable contributions to our economy, our community life, and our progression as a society.”
He said many well-known people have passed through St Louis’ and have acknowledged benefitting from the holistic education they received there and from an environment which “encourages every girl to realise her possibilities and reach her full potential.”
St Louis alumni are particularly well represented in the world of arts and culture, and past pupils include the singers, Mary and Frances Black; noted writers like Anne Enright, Ita Daly and Nessa O’Mahony; and performers such as Adele King and Irene McCoubrey – better known as Maxi and Twink.
“I know that the emphasis which the St Louis Sisters placed on the arts and performance continues today and is one of the factors for which this school is greatly renowned,” the President said.
When the school first opened its doors in September 1913 it had a roll call of just 36 pupils.
Today the school has approximately 600 students and “operates in a very different Ireland from the one that existed on that autumn morning a hundred years ago,” the President said.
“We were then a country still under British rule; a country that had not yet witnessed two seismic World Wars and, of course, an Easter Rising that would have a profound effect on the course of Irish history, changing us forever and setting us on the road to becoming an independent State.”
“Today we are a multi-cultural nation and active members of a global community. We have gained our own unique and individual voice globally and on the European stage while preserving our distinctiveness as a people,” the President commented.
He added that while much remains to be achieved, “Ireland is a well-educated society with the vast majority of pupils now remaining in school until they have completed their Leaving Certificate.”
“In Northern Ireland we have emerged from thirty years of conflict and have laid the foundations for peace and reconciliation. We are, indeed, a country that has many achievements of which to be proud as we review our journey over the last one hundred years, and St Louis High School has played its own significant role in that journey,” President Higgins said.
St Louis Convent School was founded by the Sisters of St Louis, whose aim was to provide Christian education in a changing world.
It opened on the 1 September 1913 in ‘Charleville’, originally the residence of Sir John Grey, Lord Lieutenant of Ireland.
From the Convent House, the school expanded in 1929 with the purchase of a nearby property, 8 Grosvenor Road, and in 1942 the property next door at 7 Grosvenor Road was acquired.
The introduction of the Free Education Scheme in summer 1967 led to a rapid expansion of enrolments. A new school was built which was opened in 1982.
The school today is part of the Le Chéile Trust, a collaborative trust set up by fourteen congregations, one of whom is the St Louis order.
The Trust works to promote the mission in different school types. It carries out the legal, financial and inspirational work of the Patron. It has a special care for the spiritual dimension of the school, and for the faith formation.
Its mission is “To promote Catholic education as an option within the Irish education system. To develop the schools of the congregations in the service of their local communities, the state and the church.”