One of the most famous secondary schools in North County Dublin, St Finian’s Community College Swords, are celebrating 60 years of educational provision in Swords and North County Dublin.
The school began its life as St. Finian’s Vocational School, which opened its doors at North Street/Seatown Road in September 1956, with Mr. Donncha O’Donnabháin as Principal. It was co-educational with 59 boys, 48 girls and five teachers. Unusually for the time, no fees were charged, thereby beginning the school’s long tradition of being open and inclusive to all.
The students followed the Group Certificate, and at that time there was no school transport, with many people cycling or walking long distances to school. St Finian’s started teaching the Intermediate and Leaving Cert courses in 1968 and the school grew from strength to strength, resulting in a new school being needed to cope with the increasing numbers.
In 1981, the school was renamed St. Finian’s Community College and moved to its current location at Castlefarm with Ms. Valerie English as Principal. There were 730 students and a teaching staff of 37. Swords and society have changed greatly since then and through those years, St. Finian’s has changed and adapted to meet the needs of their students. The great tradition of inclusivity is alive and well and the school today offers education to children from many parts of the globe.
Academic achievement is highly valued and strong links with Dublin City University (DCU) ensure many students engage in Access programmes and the Centre for Talented Youth (CYTI) with increasingly large numbers transferring to University.
The school has a fully equipped sports hall and adjoining playing pitches. As always, sporting success is encouraged and the school is very proud of the achievements of past students in GAA, Soccer and Rugby to name but a few! Notable past pupils include current Dublin GAA stars and multiple All-Ireland winners, Paul Flynn and Darren Daly, as well as former Dublin great, Kieran Duff. The school can also claim Ireland ladies rugby star, Lynn Cantwell and Dublin ladies football player, Fiona Hudson, as past pupils. Indeed Fiona is a member of the Access team at DCU. Former President of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, David Begg, comedian Ed Byrne and actor, Chris Newman, who stars in ‘Red Rock’ are other notable past pupils.
Artistic talent is promoted and a current sixth year student won the recent Swords Musician of the Year. Out of 1,000 schools in Ireland last year, St. Finian’s finished first on the Hustleboard and second on the Mastery Leaderboard in the Mathlete Challenge. Two students also qualified for the National final of the AILO competition in Trinity College. Extracurricular activities and national and international tours are an important part of school life as the staff’s approach to education is holistic ensuring that students emerge as rounded individuals whose various talents have been nurtured.
St. Finian’s Community College is a highly regarded centre for education in Swords having taught generations of families over the past 60 years. There can be no doubt that it has made a huge contribution to the social and economic life of North County Dublin. The school prides itself on
inclusivity, where pupils of all abilities are welcome and where they can avail of the school’s excellent academic programme, which is second to none in the North County.
Currently, there are 620 students enrolled. Students are offered a wide range of programmes – the Junior Certificate, the Junior Schools Certificate, Transition Year, The Leaving Cert Applied Programme, The Leaving Cert Vocational Programme and the established Leaving Cert programme.
Finally, St Finian’s Community College is now entering an exciting new phase in its long history with a planned extension and refurbishment underway.
This will allow 1,000 students to be accommodated and new science labs, a kitchen and sewing room, a woodwork room, a metalwork room, a music room, a technology room, a design, communications and graphics room, computer rooms and 13 new classrooms to be added to the extensive facilities already in place at the school.
The school’s motto is “Serious about Success” and as they celebrate their jubilee year, they look forward to continuing their long-standing tradition of providing the highest quality education for their students, of which they are justifiably proud.