Tuesday, 17 March 2015

St Patrick's School

ST PATRICK'S NATIONAL SCHOOL, Donegall Street, Belfast, was built in 1828 to the designs of the Newry architect, Timothy Hevey.

It was the first Roman Catholic school to be built in the city of Belfast.

The land was donated by the 2nd Marquess of Donegall, and had been the town dump until the school was built.

Operated by the Christian Brothers for a large portion of its history, the school continued to serve the educational needs of north Belfast until it closed in 1982.

Before then it had been the place of schooling for the comedian Frank Carson; the Lord Fitt, founding Leader of the SDLP; and former World Champion boxer, Rinty Monaghan, as well as countless generations of children from across north Belfast.

Squat and brown bricked, people speak fondly of its pointed Gothic windows and Dutch gable.

After it closed it served briefly as a parish community centre and survived until a fire caused severe damage in late 1995.

The damage so severe that the owners wished to have the building demolished for public safety and to enable expansion of a car park.

The threat to the future of Belfast’s last remaining Neo-Gothic building was the impetus for the foundation of the Belfast Buildings Trust.

With a package of funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Architectural Heritage Fund, various charitable trusts and the Belfast Building Trust's own borrowings, the group ensured a completed project at a cost of £1.2 million.

Reopened in 1999 by the Lord Dubs, Minister for the Environment, St Patrick’s now houses offices, a bookshop and a restored classroom that is used for events ranging from creative writing classes to business seminars.

First published in August, 2011. 

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