Wholeschool Portal | Home 17 October 2016

 During the 19th century, there were many efforts to establish secondary schools for girls in the Enniskillen area but the first major step was taken in 1916 when the Enniskillen Royal School for Girls was established at 37 Darling Street. In 1925, the Fermanagh Regional Education Committee took over the school and changed its name to the ‘Enniskillen Collegiate School for Girls’.

A new school was planned and opened in Cooper Crescent in October 1931, the principal being Mrs M C Smith. This new school, built for eighty-eight pupils, contained four classrooms, a room for the Headmistress, a Science laboratory, a utility room containing ‘ a cooking range, gas stove, ironing stove and sinks’, a small hall with a projector room behind a prefects’ room and a staffroom in attic accommodation. This new school cost £10,000 and was the first grammar school in the province erected by a public body.

In 1949, Mrs Smith retired after nearly thirty years of service to the school and with her went the boarding establishment which she had set up in 1928, adjacent to the new school. She was succeeded as headmistress by Miss E Hamilton.

1949 saw the introduction of the 11+ examination which increased numbers in the school and in 1950 the Aluminium Wing was added to the school. In 1957, Miss R D Ewing became Headmistress and with numbers continuing to rise, further accommodation was needed.

In 1964, Miss Ewing was tragically killed in a car accident and was succeeded as Principal by Mrs A Malone. It was clear that further accommodation was required as numbers continued to rise and, in January 1969, five hundred girls, supervised by staff, moved the desks, chairs and new equipment into the new extension which received an award in the 1969 RIBA competition.

In 1976, Mrs Malone retired and was succeeded as Principal by Mr G Young, a former member of staff. Additions and changes to school accommodation in the following years demonstrated the school’s wish to keep abreast of curriculum developments and the school acquired a Careers department, mobile classrooms for Science, Technology and English as well as a mobile which acted as a Sixth Form Centre. Further refurbishment took place under Mr Young’s guidance but as the eighties moved into the nineties, it was clear that a major building programme was essential. Under Mr Young’s guidance the planning work began and when Miss K Doherty succeeded Mr Young as Principal in September 1997, plans were well advanced. In May 1999 the long awaited building programme began and came to fruition in May 2002 when Mrs Joan Wilson carried out the official opening of the new and refurbished buildings.

In 2004, Miss Doherty retired and was succeeded as Principal by Miss E Armstrong.

Through the academic year 2006-7 the school celebrated its 75th anniversary on its current site. The School Council produced a booklet “Now and Then” bringing together details on life in the Collegiate through the decades: they gathered their information through a questionnaire and interviews with former pupils. In October 2007 a very successful dinner in the Killyhevlin Hotel brought many generations of Collegians together to share memories and experiences, past and present.

An account such as this can only provide a skeletal history of the school. The Short History of the School compiled by Mrs Ada Malone and Miss Barbara Chapman contains the following truism which is still relevant today:

A school is what staff and pupils make it. Its success and happiness
depend, not on fine buildings alone, nor on high academic study, but on
the enthusiasms and activities of a devoted staff and interested pupils’