Originally founded as a boys' secondary school at the end of the nineteenth century by members of the Presbyterian community, St Andrew's College celebrated its centenary in 1994. It was on 8 January 1894 that the College opened its doors at 21 St Stephen's Green in the centre of Victorian Dublin. This was to be the first of its three locations.
Under its young and energetic headmaster, W W Haslett, an Ulsterman,St. Andrew's College grew rapidly from its original intake of 64 students. By the end of 1894 there were 203 boys in the school.
From the outset, the school was non-sectarian in character. Only in the opening year were Presbyterians in the majority. During the last years of the Union, student numbers grew, reaching a peak of 380 by 1922. But, along with many Protestant institutions, it went through a period of crisis during the early years of the Irish Free State, following the turmoil of revolution, civil war and reconstruction. Numbers plummeted and closure seemed imminent. However, at the beginning of 1937 a move to new premises in Wellington Place, Clyde Road, along with a determined effort by past pupils and parents to stave off closure or amalgamation saw a revival in the fortunes of the College.
As student numbers increased, the Board of Management bought adjoining houses in Wellington Place, a pleasant and quiet tree-lined street a tram ride from the city centre. Sporting activities took place at the playing fields in Donnybrook, which had been leased by the College from the Pembroke Estate. An important and innovative addition to the facilities while the College was at Clyde Road was the outdoor swimming pool at the playing fields, which was built by the students themselves in the 1940s.
In the late 1960s, education in Ireland was dramatically affected by the Government's decision to provide free second-level education for all children. This 'wind of change' came just as the feasibility of expansion at Clyde Road was being considered. It became increasingly obvious that growing numbers would necessitate a further move to allow for expansion and for sports facilities on site.
The outcome was the development of a new home for the school at Booterstown, with its own playing fields. The building, designed by Paul Koralek, an architect based in London, incorporated the most modern features of educational design. This new campus opened in January 1973 and soon became co-educational, accepting its first group of girls in the following September. Originally planned for 400 students, including Preparatory and Boys Boarding departments, the building has been continually expanded, most notably by the addition of a Sports Hall in 1990 and a Sixth Form centre in 1993, and a new classroom wing in 2010. While St Andrew's no longer has boarders, its student numbers have increased to nearly 1,200.
During its hundred year history, the College has always attracted students from a wide range of religious denominations and in recent years has acquired a significant number of international students. In recognition of this, the College, since the 1980s, has been awarded dual accreditation as an International School by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges and the European Council of International Schools.
While the first few pupils of 1894 would find it hard to recognise the College today as it faces into the challenges of the 21st century under its seventh headmaster, Mr Arthur Godsil, its history shows that the College fully justifies its motto 'Ardens sed virens' - flourishing in the midst of change.
To coincide with the school's centenary in 1994, Georgina Fitzpatrick, at the request of the Board of Governors, wrote an interesting, well-researched, illustrated history of the College. This book gives a fascinating insight into the origins of the school in 1894 and , its development from that time, including crises and successes, up to the 1990s. Students and parents are strongly advised to obtain a copy at Reception