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About our school

Our Mercy Heritage

Catherine McAuley founded the Religious Congregation of the Sisters of Mercy in 1831.

Her strong faith in God nutured by reflection on the Gospels, her deep and personal awareness of the needs of poor people in Dublin in the nineteenth century and her loyalty to the Catholic Church led her to give her life in service to others.

In her educational endeavors Catherine McAuley sought:
To bring freedom and better quality of life to those who were poor.

To regenerate Irish society by preparing young people for responsible adult living.

To lead all in her care to a deeper faith in Jesus Christ.

The focus of her attention was those who were poor, uneducated and without opportunity, approach was collaborative and she sought to influence those at the centre of wealth and power to share in her efforts.

'She connected the rich to the poor, the educated and skilled to the uninstructed, the influential to those perceived as of no consequence, the powerful to the weak'. (Adapted from Tender Courage by Sr. Joanna Regan, R.S.M.)
In the area of Primary Education, she was the first of the contemporary founders of religious congregations to seek affiliation to the New National School system and is credited with having adapted creatively and constructively what was then an unsatisfactory governmental system of education.

In terms of secondary or intermediate education, Catherine’s non-residential pension school for girls anticipated by more than forty years, the Intermediate Act of 1878.

Her concern for the spiritual and material welfare of women was expressed in the setting up of the House of Mercy, where woman were trained to work which enabled them to earn their living. Through her policy of self-help and the teaching of crafts and skills, she pioneered technical or vocational education half a century before such education was officially recognised.

Her close liaison with the family, through visitation of homes, pointed to the need for family education and community-based learning and can be seen as the forerunner of homes/schools/community partnerships.

Catherine McAuley was an inspired, creative innovator regarding teacher education. In Baggot Street she initiated a training programme for female teachers which was based on the monitor system. This predated by two years the setting up by the State of a similar teacher-training programme for the male teachers in Marlborough Street.

Her style of education was permeated by religious faith nurtured in an atmosphere of love. Her greatest influence as a teacher came from the recognition that she lived by the values she imparted.

"My legacy to the Institute is charity: If you preserve the peace and union which have never yet been violated among us, you will feel, even in this world, a happiness that will surprise you and be to you a foretaste of the bliss prepared for every one of you in heaven." - Mother Catherine Mcauley