Johnstown Vocational School opened in 1952. It had three classrooms for Woodwork, Science and Home Economics. Mr. Pat Taaffe was appointed Principal, with Moira Moynihan as Home Economics teacher and Father Carroll teaching Religion. Thirty-three students enrolled in the first year. In 1953, Mr. Taaffe returned to Kilkenny V.E.C. and Mr. John Walsh was appointed Principal.
Mr. Walsh taught Science for years and was responsible for establishing this new venture. He spent 40 years working diligently for the school community. He loved the school garden and in 1978 and 1979 our school was honored with first place in Ireland for the best-kept school garden with a wide range of shrubs/flowers.
In 1953, Mr. Bernie Ryan arrived as Woodwork teacher. The school had a slow take off, for in 1964 there were only 65 students on the roll. In 1964, the staff included Mr. Walsh, Mr. Ryan, Mr. Sean Hennessy, Ms. Ann Carroll and Father Langton. Mr. Maurice McGrath arrived as Irish teacher in 1968 and acted as Vice Principal up to 1980.
In the 1950’s the only examination available was the Group Certificate which students sat after two years. In the late 1960’s, students could sit the Intermediate Certificate and the Leaving Certificate was introduced in 1977.
Sport has played a huge role in the life of our school. The school has won several u14 titles, two U16 All-Ireland Titles in 1987/88, two Senior All-Ireland Hurling titles in 1982 and 2008, one U14 football All-Ireland in 1974 and a Leinster titles at U16 in 2006 and U14 in 2008. In 2005, the school reached All-Ireland hurling finals in U14, U16 and U18 levels. Camogie also has a long-standing and successful tradition.
In recent years the school has had success at u14 and u16 hurling and all grades in camogie competing in and winning Leinster finals. We have also experienced great success at Badminton and Handball. Basketball is now a main feature of the girls sporting calendar and although it is a relatively new sport in Coláiste Mhuire the girls are making massive progress year on year.
Famous sporting past pupils include Ger and John Henderson, Murty Kennedy, David Burke, Stephen Grehan, and more recently J.J. Delaney, P.J. Delaney and Davina Tobin who have represented Kilkenny with great distinction in hurling and camogie. In 2019 Aidan Tallis was selected as a member of the minor all-stars following his heroic efforts in the black and amber.
Coláiste Mhuire takes great pride in serving the community and continues to open its facilities for night classes and sporting activities. We have harnessed strong links with local enterprise, sporting organisations and the community . The school has come a long way since its inception in 1952; the past and present Principals and all associated with this fine school are justifiably proud of it, as can the community which it serves.