400 years ago this December the Rev Bryan Morrison MA arrived in Donegal to establish a Royal School ten years after King James I had decreed that a Royal School be founded in the counties of Tyrone, Fermanagh, Cavan, Armagh and Donegal.
After starting life in Donegal Town the school ported to Raphoe in 1668 and has remained in the Lagan market town ever since.
In 1971 the Royal School merged with The Prior School Lifford and was renamed The Royal and Prior Comprehensive School and now occupies two sites in the town; the main school on the Derry Road and the boarding department, The Royal School House, adjacent to the Cathedral.
On Friday, current and former members of the school community, along with guests, attended a service of thanksgiving to God for four centuries of education in the Cathedral Church of St. Eunan in Raphoe. The service was led by the Dean of Raphoe, the Very Rev Arthur Barrett and the preacher was the Right Rev Ken Good, the Bishop of Derry and Raphoe.
The School Choir were conducted by Mrs Katherine McMorrow accompanied by Mr Derek Fleming on the organ and the service included involvement from Mr Pat Shallow, member of Staff, Mr Edward Coyle, President of the Past Pupils Association, Mrs Jayne Chambers, the School Chaplain, Mrs Vicky Sloan, Head of Boarding, Mr Des West, former Principal, Mrs Margaret Nairn, Deputy Principal, Dr Howard Welch, Principal, Rev Dr Brian Brown, Deputy Chairperson of the Board of Management, Rev Canon John Merrick, Chairperson of the Board of Management and students from the School.
The School were also delighted to welcome the Right Rev Alan McGukian, Bishop of Raphoe and the newly appointed Minister for Education and Skills, Joe McHugh TD.
In his sermon Bishop Good referred to the challenges that had faced the school over the centuries such as rebellions, wars and famines and yet God's faithfulness had endured. He also paid tribute to the generations of principals and staff who had endeavoured to leave a legacy of educated and capable students who had left Raphoe to pursue careers both at home and abroad.
PICTURES: Clive Wasson