The idea of a comprehensive school in the Wicklow area to serve primarily the Protestant community in the Glendalough Diocese was first mooted at the Church of Ireland General Synod in 1977. After much Diocesan surveying, the Department of Education was approached and initial sanction was finally given in 1984 for the first green-field Protestant second-level school in the Republic of Ireland’s history, under the patronage of the Church of Ireland Archbishop of Dublin.
Several Diocesan sub-committees worked for many years on plans for transport and finance, curriculum structure and building. In 1986, a Board of Management was appointed and much of this work passed onto their shoulders. By February, 1987, the first Principal had been appointed, and work had begun on the school building. Subsequently, staff were appointed, the curriculum was finalised, and the first East Glendalough School pupils started on Wednesday, 2nd September, 1987. There were 67 pupils (51 in Form 1 and 16 in Form 2) and a total of nine teaching staff.
In February, 1988, the school moved into the bright, modern building it now occupies. This is situated on an open south-facing and gently sloping site of almost 3.2 hectares (8 acres) adjacent to the railway station in Wicklow town. In 1991 a substantial extension was added to the original building to cater for the strong demand for places in the school. The whole structure is a unique and attractive modern building including twelve general classrooms, specialist rooms for Home Economics, Science, Arts and Crafts, Metalwork and Computer Studies, plus a Library, Gymnasium, staffrooms, offices and other ancillary areas. The outside of the building is faced with red brick and the grounds, which contain three playing pitches, are fully landscaped to blend in with the surroundings. The school was officially opened in May, 1989, by His Excellency, Patrick Hillery, President of Ireland, and the extension was officially opened in September, 1991, by the then Minister for Education, Mary O’Rourke.
In the summer of 2008 the grounds at the western end of the school were levelled and the construction of an astroturf pitch began. A new Arts building was erected in 2010, and the School’s ASD Unit was completed in 2014. Meanwhile, funding is currently being sourced for construction of a new sports hall.
However, the history of any school is about much more than just buildings. In the last twenty years East Glendalough School has rapidly and deservedly achieved a terrific reputation for strong academic teaching and learning alongside a close, caring community in which excellence in all areas is encouraged. Talk to anyone who knows the school or knows Wicklow and you’ll quickly discover that East Glendalough School is a very special place. The first twenty years of the school’s life has been a roaring success story – let’s keep it going!