Parish’s Name 

  • St Patrick’s, Walcha.

School established

  • St Patrick’s

Principals and enrolled number of students

Year Principal Feb Enrolment Aug Enrolment Oct Enrolment
1991 Mr Michael Watts      
1992-1997 Miss Leonie Keoghan      
1998 (term 1) Mrs Mary Dubois (acting)      
1998-2002  Mr Doug Garnett      
2003 -2004 Mr Paul Dennis    Aug 2003- 81  
2005 – 2007 Mr Michael Maloney  Feb 2007 – 76 Aug 2005 – 80   
2008-  Mrs. Alanna McRae  

Feb 2008 – 62

Feb 2009 – 53


History of School


In August of the year 1911, five Sisters of Mercy – Mother Donnelly, Sisters M de Pazzi Walsh, M Cecilia Keys M Camillis Sala and M Bernard – journeyed to Walcha from Gunnedah to commence the teaching of the faith to the Catholic children. They travelled for two days along the rough dusty country roads by horse and buggy, bringing what possessions they could with them to furnish the newly completed convent and school which had been built on the present site.

The Sisters had many challenges to meet on their arrival in Walcha. Primitive living conditions and very few possessions were amongst the most difficult. The school equipment was inadequate and the helper teachers were paid when the parish could afford it. Many of the children came to school without shoes and their lunches consisted of bread and dripping sprinkled with salt.

School fees in 1911 were six pence a week. The Sisters taught large composite classes at Intermediate level along with the traditional sewing, music, typing and business principals. A local identity who studied this course was Erle (“Blue”) Hogan (pictured below).

A meeting of parishioners was called in 1975 when it was realised that the Sisters could not continue teaching at Walcha. An interim school board of parents was established in that same year the Catholic community organised a farewell dinner for the Sisters in appreciation of their services, for without their dedication and tenacity in those 64 years St Patrick’s School would not be in existence today.


walcha nuns

1914: Sr M Augustine, Sr M Joseph, Sr M Bernard

(one of the first sisters to come to Walcha in 1911)

with Miss Anne Edwards (pupil teacher) 



The following excerpt taken from “A History of St Patrick’s Church, Walcha – Centenary Celebration 1881-1981 – 25th October, 1981



walcha school

St Patrick’s School Class:

Back row: Jimy Hoole (on step), Norman Betts, Bernard Hammill, Erle Hogan, Ernie Howard, Cecil Betts, Dennis Costigan, Keith Hogan;

Middle row: Kath Dawson (Brindle), Norma Coughlin (Parsons), Marie Castelli, Norma Dawson (Hammond), Anne Toofe (Springfield), Cecily Kelly (Riley);

Front row: —-, —-, Athena Andronicus, Joan Hogan (Delaney), Bessie Andronicus, Eileen Hogan, Jean Kelly.



Members of the interim school board established in 1975 to decide the future of the school were:


Len Fenning            Richard Loneragan

Joy Finlayson          Rick McCormack

Sue Fitzgerald         Father George O’Connor

Father Flood           Howard Whitelaw

Justin King

The school in 1974 had an enrolment of 54 pupils. Father Bernard Flood was then Director of Catholic Education in the Armidale Diocese.


In 1976, Mr Maxwell John McGinty was appointed Principal. He had a staff of two and an enrolment of about 85 pupils. By 1981 this had grown to 130 pupils with six teachers. To accommodate the increasing enrolments the school required new buildings. The first stage of the “Mercy Block” – a memorial to the Sisters of Mercy – was completed in 1977, the second stage in 1981. In 1979, Bishop Kennedy opened the “John McKeon Memorial Library”, the Library (formerly Father McKeon’s “weather shed”) and the first stage of the Mercy Block were built by voluntary parent labour under the leadership of Mr Len Fenning. The Parish arranged a loan of $38,000 from the Diocesan Investment Fund to finance the first stage of the Mercy Block; the second stage and the Library building were funded by the Schools Commission.



walcha school

St Patrick’s School in October 1981,

showing the recently completed classrooms


The School oval at the back of the Presbytery was levelled in 1977 for sporting activities. In 1979 the parish purchased a house in Angle Street to overcome the teacher housing shortage in Walcha.


The School crest and motto “Growing in Wisdom and Faith” was selected from the entries received by the School Board in September 1980.



walcha school

1981 St Patrick’s Staff:

Kevin Humphries, Max McGinty (principal), Silvana Nero,Rhonda McGinty,

Tricia McCormack, Elizabeth Conchrane, Patricia Beattie.


Listed are the teachers who have taught at the School since 1976: Max McGinty, Annette Henry, Elizabeth Cochrane, Kerry Walker, Judy Burke, Elizabeth Preston, Nona Pyrke, Joanne Seery, Joanne Ormorod, Tricia McCormack, Patricia Beattie, Silvana Nero, Kevin Humphries.


Ancillary staff: Sue Fitzgerald, Rhonda McGinty, Sue White.

No further information has been provided at this stage. Please forward any information to the Catholic Schools Office

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