House 1902- 2002
100 years of care for Derry's children
For the last 100 years the Sisters of Nazareth in Derry
have earned a place in the hearts of all the people of the
city for their sterling work and commitment to looking after
the children and elderly of the city.
The names, faces and building of Nazareth House, Bishop
Street may have changed in the last 100 years but the ethos
Since 1892 when Nazareth House first opened its doors to
the needy of Derry the sisters have remained committed to
providing care and help to all those who need it. And since
1902 Nazareth House has provided first class education for
the children of Derry.
Earlier this week the 370 pupils of the schools, dressed
in their trademark blue uniform, joined with staff, former
teachers, past pupils, members of the clergy and parents
for a celebration of what they call the birthday of
All over Derry, people have commented on the great strides
that Nazareth House has made over the last century.
Not only have they enjoyed both academic and personal success
on a large scale with past and present pupils but they have
won many prestigious awards and enjoyed massive success
at Derrys Feis.
Sadly the Nazareths childrens residential home
closed in 2000 however Nazareth House remains committed
to education, and the care of the elderly.
Nazareth House School also encourages the children to get
to know the elderly in the home and the children have regular
contact with the elderly by performing shows and organising
Christmas concerts for them.
Children sit side by side with the elderly in the buildings
small church and learn to have respect for their elders.
Speaking yesterday to the Journal school principal,
Sister Bernadine said it was wonderful to have reached the
100 year milestone in the schools history.
We have had a marvellous week, she said. To
celebrate the anniversary we had Mass in the school on Wednesday
with Father Donnelly and Father Keaveney. Many of our ex-members
of staff who have dedicated years of their life to the school
also attended and shared their memories of the school. Many
parents of pupils, past and present also attended.
The whole school joined in the service. And for the
first time we had our nursery class in the hall for a school
We were completely inundated with flowers from parents
who made donations to decorate the hall. We had so many,
I wondered where I was going to put them all?
As part of the celebrations we have also installed
a statue of a Guardian Angel in the Assembly Hall.
We decided to do this to remind ourselves of how unsafe
the world can be for our children today. We encourage the
children to keep safe and pray to their guardian angels.
One of the most touching moments of the day was when
we were presented with a link from the past from E.J. Toye
solicitors. They presented us with the silver trowel that
was used in 1902 when the cornerstone was first laid by
Bishop John Keys ODoherty.
The detail and inscription on the trowel is wonderful
and it is a wonderful keepsafe for us to have.
Nazareth House is a much changed place since it first opened
Nazareth House first opened as home to provide care
for the orphans and the elderly of Derry. said Sister
Then in 1902 the cornerstone of the Nazareth House
Primary School was laid marking the beginning of the building
of the school.
What most people dont realise is that when the
building was first erected here in 1902, it was revolutionary.
It was an incredibly modern building which had gas, electricity
and running water whilst many other homes in the city didnt.
When the school first opened there were big changes
in store for our residents as we opened our doors to other
children of the city. It brought great enrichment to the
school not only to the residents of Nazareth House but also
the pupils who came in.
This in turn led to children living in our residential
home attending other schools in the city. With the older
children moving out it made room for children to come in
from the local area.
We had boys coming in to us from Termonbacca and infants
from the Waterside who were too young to join the Waterside
Sadly, however the residential home for the children closed
in 2000 and the children were moved into independent establishments.
I think that the closing of the childrens unit
was one of the saddest changes we had. said Sister
No longer did we hear the childrens voices after
three oclock. When school ended the house was run
more like a home and we had real aspects of home life there.
However the closing of this unit has allowed us to
expand the school and enabled us to open up our Nursery
Unit and we find this a wonderful help to pupils moving
into Primary One. Children who are just three-old are now
pupils at our Nursery School.
Recently Nazareth House had a school inspection and the
reports acknowledged that the school operated: a
caring ethos which permeates the life and work of the school.
Courtesy of the Derry Journal
By Erin Hutcheon