School History

Kerry TD Norma Foley with Moyderwell Mercy National School
Kerry TD Norma Foley Announces Project Approval

Kerry TD Norma Foley Announces Project Approval

Minister for Education and Kerry TD Norma Foley has announced initial project approval for a multi-million euro building project for Moyderwell Mercy Primary School, Tralee.

This building project will provide state of the art facilities including four mainstream classrooms as well as a two classroom base for students with special educational needs.

One Special Education Teaching room is also being provided for along with reconfiguration works to existing classrooms in the school.

At the announcement, Minister Foley said: “I am delighted to join the school community at Moyderwell today. This exciting new development is an endorsement of the school community at Moyderwell for their tireless commitment, passion and endeavour to educating the young people of Tralee and surrounding areas. I now look forward to work commencing as expeditiously as possible.”

Chairperson of the Board of Management Cllr. Jim Finucane said: “We are delighted to receive initial project approval from Minister Foley and cannot wait for work to start on this ambitious new school building project so that our students can experience these wonderful  new facilities.”

Moyderwell in the 21st Century

The 21st century has seen remarkable changes to the Mercy Community in Tralee and to the schools that continue to be run under the auspices of the Mercy Order. In 2000, the secondary school held classes in the Moyderwell site for the last time. Following an amalgamation with the sister school in Balloonagh, a new school was built which has become known as Mercy Mounthawk.

The Primary School has also seen huge changes in recent years. In 2005, the school became co-educational. Up to that point, boys traditionally left Moyderwell Mercy at 1st class level. Following the introduction of co-eduction, boys now remain in the school and complete their Primary education in Moyderwell. As a consequence, enrollment numbers have risen dramatically and we were fortunate to open a new addition to the school in 2009 which incorporates three new classrooms as well as a number of resource and learning support rooms.

Our most recent project has been a renovation of the School Gym. Following a lengthy planning process, the hard work and support of the wider school community has delivered a state of the art sports facility that will be of great benefit to present and future generations of Moyderwell students. The official opening of the Gym took place in February 2011.

Moyderwell Mercy Primary School - 1st Class 2003
Mercy Moyderwell 1st Class (2003)
Moyderwell mercy 6th Class 1987
Moyderwell Mercy 6th Class (1987)
Retirement of Sr. Ita in 2000 from Moyderwell Mercy Primary School
Retirement of Sr. Ita in 2000 from Moyderwell Mercy

St. Mary’s Moyderwell

The year 1872 marked the birth of the Convent of Mercy in Moyderwell, in a large house owned by Dean McEnery, P.P. of Tralee. On his death the house and large garden was handed over to the Order by his successor Dean Mawe. At the top of the garden were outhouses and stables, which were converted into the very first classrooms at Moyderwell, known as St. Joseph’s. Boys and girls were enrolled and in a very short time some classes had to be taken under the shade of the lilac and laburnum trees in the garden due to the large numbers.

As the overcrowding problem increased in the years ahead a decision was made to build a new Convent and School. The clergy in Kerry and the people of the town responded generously and the foundation stone was laid by Sir Henry Donovan of Seafield, Justice of the Peace, on April 14th 1878.

The Primary School went from strength to strength and quickly established a reputation for itself as is evidenced by the following report from The Kerry Sentinel in 1906: “At the recent musical examinations, held through Ireland, we were glad to see the Moyderwell children, distinguished themselves; A general training of scholarship in all its branches is taught by the untiring and unselfish nuns of the convent, Moyderwell, whose ambition is to fit their pupils for their future livelihood, and the parents of children attending those schools ought to feel proud of the many advantages gained.

The present Primary School was built in 1961. In accordance with the Nuns wishes, the building was faced with sandstone from the original school built in 1888 and this sandstone remains on the building today.

The Arrival of the Mercy Order in Tralee

In 1854, following the Great Famine, the then Bishop, Dr. Moriarty, who had witnessed the work of the Sisters in Killarney, brought Sr. M. de Sales Bridgeman and Sr. M.M. Elizabeth O’Riordan to Tralee to help alleviate the problems faced by the sick and poor of the town. The Presentation Nuns offered accommodation to them for a while until they arranged with a Mr Jeffers to rent a house in 1 Day Place. Jeffers was the man who later gave his name to the educational institute which stood on the site of the present County Library in Moyderwell.

In 1855 John Mulchinock, a wealthy shopkeeper, impressed with the work of the Sisters, donated 16 acres of land at Balloonagh to the Order. The foundation stone was laid in May 1858 and the new convent was completed exactly three years later on May 21st.

Mercy Sisters Order, Tralee
Mercy Moyderwell Sisters
Catherine McAuley - founder of Moyderwell Mercy School
Catherine McAuley

The History of Mercy Moyderwell

Catherine McAuley founded the Religious Congregation of the Sisters of Mercy in 1831. Her strong faith in God nurtured by reflection on the Gospels, her deep and personal awareness of the needs of poor people in Dublin in the nineteenth century and her loyalty to the Catholic Church led her to give her life in service to others.

In her educational endeavours Catherine McAuley sought to bring freedom and a better quality of life to those who were poor, to regenerate Irish society by preparing young people for responsible adult living and to lead all in her care to a deeper faith in Jesus Christ

The focus of her attention was those who were poor, uneducated and without opportunity, her approach was collaborative and she sought to influence those at the centre of wealth and power to share in her efforts. ‘She connected the rich to the poor, the educated and skilled to the uninstructed,  the influential to those perceived as of no consequence, the powerful to the weak’.