First Catholic primary school to transfer to Educate Together patronage

School patron Educate Together has today welcomed the transfer of patronage of St Marys Primary School, Dublin 7, the first Catholic primary school in the state to change to Educate Together patronage.

This transfer has come about as part of the Government’s ongoing plan to support the transfer of schools from religious to multi-denominational patronage where demand exists for such a change.

St Mary’s was one of a number of schools in the Dublin Archdiocese that were supported through a consultation process during the 2022/23 school year as part of the Government’s ‘reconfiguration’ pilot programme. This involved a consultation process with the St Mary’s school community, which was conducted by a Department-appointedfacilitator, with the assistance of the Education Secretariat of the Archdiocese. In an initial stage, the school community opted to change to multi-denominational school patronage. Following this, the school community then expressed a preference that the school become an Educate Together school.

In accordance with the expressed wishes of a majority of the school community, Archbishop Farrell wrote to Minister Foley confirming his intention to transfer patronage to the Minister, following which the Minister transfers patronage to Educate Together. 

Speaking about the transfer, Emer Nowlan, CEO of Educate Together said:  

“We are delighted to welcome this vibrant inner-city school community into the Educate Together network. We are very conscious of St Mary’s long history as a successful Catholic school, which has always adapted to the changing needs of its local community, and we appreciate the support of the current patron and the local parish for this process. We look forward to working with parents, staff and pupils, and the local community, to support a smooth transition.”

Speaking about the transfer, St Mary’s school principal, Éadaoin Kelly said:  

“We are pleased to be making this transition to Educate Together patronage. As a school, we embrace the rich diversity of our community. The children are at the centre of all our work and we are responsive to their needs. Through the reconfiguration process, our school community recognised that equality-based patronage is the best fit for the diverse families we serve. We will continue our inclusive, restorative and supportive practice as an Educate Together school and look forward to sharing and learning with and from other schools in the network.”

Yasmine Othman, parent of children in Third and Fifth classes, said:  

“We warmly welcome the change. This is a really positive step into the future of Irish education. It should have an exceptional step-by-step influence as we move forward and develop our young people into every aspect of life in a modern Ireland. We look forward to being part of Educate Together and this exciting new adventure!” 

In managing the transition, Educate Together will draw on its 45 years’ experience of primary school management. This change reflects the growing demand for Educate Together schools, and the support of the Archdiocese of Dublin to enabling schools to change patronage, where sufficient demand exists for change. 

Patronage transfers are becoming increasingly important as a means of meeting demand; education in Ireland continues to be dominated by religiously-managed schools, with 90% of all primary schools still having Catholic patronage, despite declining numbers of people identifying as Catholic in the country. Patronage transfer is likely to be particularly attractive to communities outside the main urban centres, where there is little prospect of a new school being opened, under current Government policy. Emer Nowlan again:  

“We are excited about the opportunities this transfer opens up for communities all around the country. Up to now, most of Educate Together’s growth has been through the new schools process, so that families outside our main cities have lost out. The option to choose an Educate Together school shouldn’t depend on where you live, and we hope that the Department’s new reconfiguration process will enable school communities in other areas who want to join our network to do so.” 

School communities interested in transferring to Educate Together patronage can find more information here: