Thornhill College

Last updated

55°02′06″N7°17′02″W / 55.035°N 7.284°W / 55.035; -7.284


Thornhill College
Coláiste Chnoc na nDealg [1]
Thornhill College
Culmore Road

BT48 8JF

Type Grammar school
MottoAdveniat Regnum Tuum (Thy Kingdom come)
Religious affiliation(s) Roman Catholic
Local authority Education Authority (Western)
PrincipalSharon Mallett, BSSc PGDFHE MSc PQM
Age11to 18

Thornhill College is a Roman Catholic grammar school for girls. Located in Derry, Northern Ireland, it has a student population of approximately 1500 and a staff of 100 teachers.


The nucleus of the present Thornhill College commenced shortly after the Sisters of Mercy came to Derry in 1848. The Sisters started a private school for girls in Pump Street. The school started in Artillery Street, Derry in 1887 as the Ard Scoil na Maighdine Mhuire - Convent of Our Lady of Mercy School. [2] Its first Scheme of Government under the then Ministry of Education was drawn up in February 1925. When Watt's Distillery closed in Derry, and the Estate at Thornhill, on the outskirts of Derry, became available for sale, the Sisters, with the kind assistance of Robert Boyle, a builder in Derry, completed the purchase of the property in 1929. The house was adapted to the needs of the nuns and of the boarders. The Sisters involved moved to Thornhill Convent along with the boarders, and the Convent of Our Lady of Mercy School was officially transferred and opened on 8 September 1932 with an intake of 120 pupils, and a staff of about seven Sisters and three lay teachers.

After the Education Act, Northern Ireland in 1947, the number of pupils had increased rapidly as grammar school education became available to more and more children through the eleven plus examination. The school also had a change of name to Thornhill College, Convent of Mercy Voluntary Maintained Grammar School and various new buildings completed but these were insufficient. After many years of much effort, the present building was approved and opened in 2002 across the road from the old site in the new Thornhill College. At that time, the Sisters of Mercy withdrew from trusteeship, and gave it over to the Bishop and the Diocese of Derry. [3]


The school motto is the Latin phrase "Adveniat Regnum Tuum", which translates as "Thy Kingdom come".


In 2009, Thornhill College became a Specialist School in Mathematics and Physics. [4]

In 2018, Thornhill College was ranked 17th out of 192 schools in Northern Ireland in terms of its A-level performance. A total of 84.3% of its students entered for A-Levels achieved a grade of A* – C. [5]

In 2018, 97.4% of its entrants achieved five or more GCSEs at grades A* to C, including the core subjects English and Maths and the college was ranked 28th out of 191 schools in Northern Ireland. [6]

In 2017, the college took first place in the Northern Ireland Schools' Analyst Competition which is organised by the local Analytical Division of the Royal Society of Chemistry and involved 12 schools from across Northern Ireland. [7]


Thornhill College has a Senior Debating Society, established in 1954. The team were runners-up in the final of the Northern Ireland Schools Debating Competition in 2007, and is known throughout the school for wearing the gold stripe around the lapel of the debating blazer. Thornhill had two teams in the semi-finals of this competition who debated against each other on 30 March 2007 in Belfast. In 2017, the society had two teams in the final of the Queen's Literific Society Debating Competition one of which was the outright winner. [8] The society meets regularly to debate topical subjects and research up and coming competitions. The school also has an established Junior Debating Society who meet after school as part of the homework club. A member from the senior debating society made the national debating team and competed in the 2018 and 2019 World Schools Competition.


The college has a very active choir. In 2018, it won the School Choir of the Year at the International Choral Festival in Derry. The following year it won the BBC Northern Ireland School Choir of the Year. [9]

Notable former pupils

Sheila McClean, artist SheilaMcCleanArtisit 2004 SeanMcClean.jpg
Sheila McClean, artist
Dana Rosemary Scallon, singer, politician Dana Rosemary Scallon EU parliament official portrait.jpg
Dana Rosemary Scallon, singer, politician

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Sisters of Mercy</span> Religious order

The Sisters of Mercy is a religious institute of Catholic women founded in 1831 in Dublin, Ireland, by Catherine McAuley. As of 2019, the institute has about 6200 sisters worldwide, organized into a number of independent congregations. They also started many education and health care facilities around the world.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Foyle College</span> Grammar school in Derry, County Londonderry, Northern Ireland

Foyle College is a co-educational non-denominational voluntary grammar school in Derry, Northern Ireland. The school's legal name is Foyle and Londonderry College. In 1976, two local schools, Foyle College and Londonderry High School, merged under the Foyle and Londonderry College Act 1976 to form Foyle and Londonderry College. In 2011, the Board of Governors re-branded the school as 'Foyle College' and updated the school's crest.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Methodist College Belfast</span> Voluntary grammar school in Belfast, County Antrim, Northern Ireland

Methodist College Belfast (MCB), locally known as Methody, is a co-educational voluntary grammar school in Belfast, located at the foot of the Malone Road, Northern Ireland. It was founded in 1865 by the Methodist Church in Ireland and is one of eight Northern Irish schools represented on the Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference. It is also a member of the Independent Schools Council and the Governing Bodies Association.

Ripon Grammar School is a co-educational, boarding and day, selective grammar school in Ripon, North Yorkshire, England. It has been named top-performing state school in the north for ten years running by The Sunday Times. It is one of the best-performing schools in the North of England; in 2011, 91% of pupils gained the equivalent of 5 or more GCSEs at grade C or above, including English and maths; the figure has been over 84% consistently since at least 2006. As a state school, it does not charge fees for pupils to attend, but they must pass an entrance test at 11+ or 13+. There is no selection test for entry into sixth form as pupils are admitted on the basis of their GCSE grades.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Trinity School, Nottingham</span> Academy in Aspley, Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, England

The Trinity School in Nottingham, England is a Catholic secondary school and sixth form with academy status for pupils aged 11–18. It is part of the Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Multi Academy Trust.

St Patrick's Grammar School, Armagh, is a Roman Catholic boys' non-selective voluntary grammar school in the city of Armagh, Northern Ireland. The present-day school was officially opened on Thursday, 27 October, 1988, by the late Cardinal Tomás Ó Fiaich, the then Chairman of the Board of Governors, and was the result of the amalgamation of two of Northern Ireland's oldest grammar schools, Christian Brothers' Grammar School and St. Patrick's College, both of which had traditions stretching back as far as the 1830s.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">St Mary's Christian Brothers' Grammar School, Belfast</span> Grammar school in Belfast, Northern Ireland

St Mary's Christian Brothers' Grammar School is a Roman Catholic boys' grammar school in Belfast, Northern Ireland.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Dalriada School</span> School in Ballymoney

Dalriada School is a mixed voluntary grammar school in Ballymoney, Northern Ireland, named after the Kingdom of Dál Riata. In 2008 the school won the Northern Ireland State Secondary School of the Year award from The Sunday Times.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">St Patrick's Academy, Dungannon</span> School in Dungannon, County Tyrone, Northern Ireland

Saint Patrick's Academy is a voluntary grammar school located in Dungannon, County Tyrone, Northern Ireland. It formed on 1 September 2003 when the two single-sex Saint Patrick's Academies, which coexisted on the same site as two distinct and separate institutions, were merged as one. In January 2013 the Education Minister John O'Dowd announced the school was one of 22 schools to get a new build project.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">St Mary's Grammar School</span> Grammar school in Magherafelt, Northern Ireland

St. Mary's Grammar School is a grammar school in Magherafelt, County Londonderry, Northern Ireland.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Our Lady's Secondary School, Templemore</span> Co-educational school

Our Lady's Secondary School, Templemore, is a second-level school in Templemore, County Tipperary, Ireland. The school's motto means "mercy". It is under the ethos of the Catholic Church and is located in the ecclesiastical parish of Templemore, Clonmore and Killea.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Mount Lourdes Grammar School</span> Grammar school in Enniskillen, Northern Ireland

Our Lady's Grammar School is a girls' grammar school in Newry, Northern Ireland. It is at Chequer Hill, on the County Armagh side of the Newry River.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Loreto College, Coleraine</span> Grammar school in Coleraine, County Londonderry, Northern Ireland

Loreto College is a Roman Catholic grammar school situated in the Castlerock Road area of Coleraine, County Londonderry, on the north coast of Northern Ireland. Loreto College educates both girls and boys between the age of 11 and 18.

St Louis Grammar School is a school in Ballymena, Northern Ireland.

Assumption Grammar School is a Catholic girls' grammar school in Ballynahinch, County Down, Northern Ireland with over 900 students.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Aloysius McVeigh</span>

Sister Aloysius McVeigh, R.S.M., was an artist, iconographer and teacher. She was from Dungiven, County Londonderry, Northern Ireland.

Scoil Mhuire, Buncrana is a co-educational voluntary Catholic secondary school, located in Buncrana in County Donegal, Ireland. The school was founded by the Sisters of Mercy in 1933 and continues to have a Catholic ethos under the trusteeship of the Catholic Education an Irish Schools Trust (CEIST). It had 788 students in 2021.


  1. "Seachtain na Gaeilge 2017". Thornhill College. Retrieved 29 April 2020.
  2. "THORNHILL COLLEGE YEARBOOK 2018/19" (PDF). Thornhill College. Retrieved 16 August 2021.
  3. "Sister Emmanuel's years at the heart of Thornhill College" . Retrieved 27 November 2017.
  4. Education Minister announces nine new specialist schools Northern Ireland Executive, 4 June 2008, Retrieved 31 July 2012
  5. "A-Level: Northern Ireland School League Table 2018" . Retrieved 22 September 2018.
  6. "Belfast Telegraph GCSE 2018" . Retrieved 22 September 2018.
  7. "Thornhill College takes first place" . Retrieved 27 November 2017.
  8. "Queen's Literific Society Debating Competition" . Retrieved 27 November 2017.
  9. "Thornhill College Yearbook 2018/19" (PDF). Thornhill College. Retrieved 16 August 2021.
  10. "Sheila McClean's vibrant personality" . Retrieved 27 November 2017.
  11. McClements, Freya (3 February 2018). "Real-life Derry Girls: 'The nuns are gone but the pupils are the same'". The Irish Times. Retrieved 14 April 2019.