Loreto College - Coleraine, Co. Derry, Northern Ireland
Loreto Crest

75th Anniversary

2005 has been a year of celebration at Loreto College Coleraine, marking the seventy-fifth anniversary of Loreto Education in the town.  A number of special events have taken place to mark the anniversary of the foundation of Loreto College.

March saw the launch of the College’s new website, www.loretocollege.org.uk. Metronet Ltd was commissioned to design and develop a new cutting-edge website for Loreto College.  The developmental phase of this project has now been completed and the end product has exceeded expectations and is easily on par with the best secondary education, university and corporate even many corporate websites.

The Loreto website has many new and special features, including:
• News and Events Calendar
• School News and Sports Archive
• Multimedia History Timeline, featuring news and photographs from past years as well as a graphical modeling of the growing school campus from its inception to today
• Special sections on the school’s 75th Anniversary

Sr Maura Hamill performed the official launch of www.loretocollege.org.uk for the assembled audience.

Representing Metronet, Mr Liam Chivers remarked that he was delighted to have been asked to re-design the website for his old school.  He spoke about how he was able to work from the structure of the existing website and outlined the various roles of the people involved in this team effort.  He had some valuable advice for the ICT pupils present on how his career had developed since his A-Levels in Loreto College.

In April, the celebrations continued with the showcasing of the great musical talent on offer at Loreto in the Spring Concert. The concert was also the occasion for the launch of the CD, “This is the Day”, recorded over a number of months by the Loreto College Senior Choir.  The CD, which includes twelve songs from the choir’s extensive repertoire, is the culmination of a year’s dedicated rehearsing and a busy season of performance and competition.  Under the baton of choirmaster Mr Howard Gillespie, the outstanding young singers recently took first place in the Youth section of the Coleraine International Choral Festival, competing against choirs from throughout the UK, Ireland and beyond.  With a distinguished record in the UTV Choir of the Year competition, the Loreto choir has for several years been established as one of the top grammar school choirs in Northern Ireland, and earlier this year was the only grammar school choir from Northern Ireland to win through to the second round of the BBC Songs of Praise Choir of the Year competition.  The CD, priced £8, will be available from the College in the coming weeks, with proceeds going to the College’s designated charities.

The next phase of the celebrations came in June, with the Junior Prizegiving, celebrating academic, personal and sporting achievement of students from Year 8-10, and with the Day of Celebration held just before the end of term on Saturday 25th June 2005.

Well attended by members of the Loreto Community in Coleraine and far beyond, former pupils, former staff, parents of past and current students, current staff and students and friends of the College, the day was a celebration of the people, changes and development which have marked the history of the school.

In the course of the afternoon, the new stained-glass windows, which were specially commissioned and created for the Anniversary, were dedicated and blessed.  A service of blessing and commemoration was held in the Convent Graveyard, in memory of the deceased Loreto Sisters who had contributed so much to the foundation and development of the school.  With every room in the College open and featuring lively displays of current pupils’ work, former students and teachers and their families were able to relive memories by touring the extensive school campus. 

One of the undoubted highlights for many visitors was the Loreto Museum, set up in the College Hall.  This display featured numerous photographs dating from 1930 to the present day, of class groups, choirs, sports teams, school trips, school musicals, members of staff, students and friends.  A cine-film was also on display, with many visitors amazed to recognise themselves on the big screen.  Among the other items featured in the Museum, which was meticulously archived and arranged by past pupils and former teachers Mrs Roisin Forde and Mrs Breedh Dunn, were ledgers recording pupil entry to Loreto College dating right back to “Pupil Number 1” in 1930, a recreated dormitory cubicle, a visual history of Loreto uniforms through the years and a selection of artefacts from the College’s history.

Groups of friends gathered in the school Canteen, Café Lorette, to reminisce and reunite, and to admire the special Commemorative Cake which was on display.  Mindful of the wider Loreto Community worldwide, a draw was held, with tickets sold in aid of the College’s sister school in Darjeeling, India. 

Later in the afternoon, a special Mass of Thanksgiving was held at St John’s Church, Coleraine, where the capacity congregation offered thanks to the Loreto Community for all it had done in its seventy-five year history in Coleraine.  Those present were also able to enjoy the singing of the College’s Senior Choir, at the end of a wonderful academic year of performance and competition.  To conclude the day, a celebratory meal was held in the evening, in the Royal Court Hotel, Portrush.

The Day of Celebration was attended by several of Loreto’s very first pupils, and by those representing the timeline of the College’s history right through to the Year 8 students of 2004 and 2005.  The members of the Loreto Community in Coleraine were joined by Sisters from many hundreds of miles away, and tribute was paid to the members of the Loreto Order for all their work, prayers, support and traditions by Mr Brian Lenehan, Principal of Loreto College.

Characterised by joyful reunions, retold anecdotes, laughter, sunshine, admiration of new facilities and nostalgic reminiscences in older parts of the school, Saturday 25th June 2005 was a true celebration of everything the Loreto Community has achieved in its distinguished history of education in Coleraine, and of all the very many lives the Sisters’ work has touched.

With the new academic year in September 2005, the celebrations continued.  The annual Senior Prizegiving held on Wednesday 21st September, celebrating academic, personal and sporting achievement of students from Year 12-14 as well as welcoming back the past pupils who left in June 2005. 

Two days later, on Friday 23rd September, the celebrations of the Seventy-Fifth Anniversary of Loreto College Coleraine continued with a special Mass of Thanksgiving held in the College’s Sports Hall.

Celebrated by the Very Reverend Seamus Hegarty, Bishop of Derry, the Mass was a joyful acknowledgement of all that had been achieved in the distinguished history of Loreto College Coleraine since its foundation in 1930.  The celebration was attended by all current staff and students of the College, along with the members of the Loreto Community in Coleraine, the members of the College’s Board of Governors and a number of distinguished guests including former members of staff, some former pupils and parents.

Addressing those present at the Mass, Bishop Hegarty acknowledged all the wonderful achievements of the College, and its contribution to the local and worldwide communities.  He urged all those present to remember the importance of thanksgiving, for all the blessings which have been given to the school community in every aspect of life.

The celebration acknowledged the ground-breaking greatness of Mary Ward, founder of the Loreto Order, and of Mother Teresa Ball, who brought the Order to Ireland, as well as Sr Aidan and Sr Colmcille, the founders of Loreto College Coleraine.  As well as choral music from the Senior and Junior Choirs with solos by Megan Devlin and Catherine McCambridge, the ceremony included Liturgical Dance and Drama.

The celebrations concluded with the presentation of a commemorative pin to all members of the school community.  Thanks were offered to Bishop Hegarty by Head Boy and Head Girl Francis McCaughan and Katherine Donnelly, and by Mr Brian Lenehan, College Principal, to all those who had worked so tirelessly to make the ceremony such a memorable celebration.

In October, the Anniversary Celebrations continued with a creative theme, with the College’s production of the well-known musical, My Fair Lady, which was one of the highlights of the Autumn Term.  Opening on Tuesday 4th October, the production ran for four nights in the College Hall, with a large ensemble cast, lively music and colourful costumes.  Directed by Mrs Oonah McEwan, with the assistance of Musical Director Mr Howard Gillespie and Choreographer Mrs Vanessa Redpath, the performances had much to offer to audiences: well known songs, dramatic tension, romance, laughter – not to mention lively chorus numbers and dance sequences. 

Lead roles in the musical were taken by a number of senior Loreto students who are already well-known in and out of school for their acting and singing talents, including:  Megan Devlin (Eliza), Martin McAllister (Professor Higgins), Lauren Eastwood (Mrs Higgins), Mary McCrory (Mrs Pearce), Owen Fisher (Col. Pickering), Natalie McWilliams (Mrs Eynsford Hill), Stephen McGonigle (Freddy), Conor Molloy (Alfred Doolittle), Joseph McCollam (George). The chorus was drawn from throughout the Junior and Senior school, representing the great musical and dramatic talent on offer, as well as the tremendous enthusiasm for the production within the school.

Finally, November saw the launch of the commemorative edition of the School Magazine, Loreto Lore.  As well as giving an account of the events of the past academic year, this publication also looked back at the history of Loreto Education in Coleraine and covered some of the recent Anniversary Events. 

A limited number of copies of both the School Magazine and the Choir’s CD may still be purchased from the College, at a cost of £5.00 for the Magazine and £8.00 for the CD  Interested parties may contact the College Office on 028 70343611.