History of the site of Mount Sion:
The earliest records indicate that the site belonged to the Knights Templers 1250 – 1540. The land at Barrack Street went to Mr. William Wyse a wealthy Catholic.
In later years a chapel called Faha chapel was built on the site. The area was outside the City Walls in a parish which extended to Butlerstown. Faha Chapel was on the site in 1700. There are records of the ‘Humble Chapel’ being demolished in 1800. The land was leased to Edmund Rice in 1803.
Edmund Rice started his first school in New Street in 1802, this was the beginning. In the same year 1802 building commenced on the grounds of the Faha Chapel on Barrack Street.
- On 7th June 1803 the new residence on Barrack Street was blessed by the Bishop, Bishop Foran. The Bishop named the new buildings Mount Sion as the site reminded him of Mount Sion overlooking Jerusalem.
- On the 1st May 1804 the boys transferred from New Street to the new school in Mount Sion. Many boys wished to gain entry and so in 1805 new wooden sheds had to be erected as classrooms.
- The Bake House and Tailor’s Shop were built in 1812.
- In June 1814 a new school building was started for 450 boys. The cost was £750 plus a collection of £250. The new school was built for a total of £1,000. It catered for 400 boys indoors and for 200 boys in the open air. There was one school for boys aged 8 to 15 years.
- In 1818 St. Patrick’s School was given to the Christian Brothers. This school existed until 1953, when the pupils transferred to the Manor School.
- Edmund Rice died in 1844. Bishop Foran called a meeting of interested citizens to decide on a memorial to Br. Rice. Sufficient money was collected to build a community chapel with classrooms under it. This later became known as the Bandroom. The foundation stone was laid in 1845. The first Mass was held there on April 4th 1846.
- In 1850 the old St. John’s Church, (the site of the Manor School was replaced by the now St. John’s Church on Parnell Street. The Bishop converted the old chapel into a school and gave it to the Brothers. The Manor School existed until 1989 when the pupils and teachers transferred to Mount Sion.
- In 1863 Br. Coyle met with the Bishop as there was limited space for the Brothers in the community in the existing monastery. A new monastery would cost £4,000 and the Brothers were dependent on local and voluntary charity for all money to be collected to build a new monastery.
- It was built in 1866 and occupied on December 8th 1866. This new building gave a new lease of life to the community.
- In 1871 the remains of Edmund Rice were moved from the corner to the centre of the graveyard. In this same year a large field was purchased. This field is where the Primary School now stands. It was initially used as a farm for the new monastery with cattle and gardens evident.
- In 1889 a decision was made to provide a ‘Paying-School’ for ‘well-to-do’ children. It started in the Mount Sion Monastery in 1890 and then moved to its new building at Waterpark in 1812. In 2001 Waterpark Junior School became an ordinary Primary School.
- In 1901 a Technical School was built in the back yard of the Primary School. This cost £1,000 with equipment costing £1,200.
- On Ash Wednesday in 1932 the Manor School was burned down.
- Also in 1932 Mount Sion GAA Club was founded. The Club will celebrate its 80th anniversary in 2012.
- The Military provided space for 12 classrooms until 1939 when the Barracks was required for the 2nd World War.
- In 1940 Pre-fabricated classrooms were moved from Waterpark to Mount Sion and were placed on the site of the old graveyard (now the site of the School Hall). These prefabricated rooms were burned down in a fire in 1942. The government then gave the go-ahead to build a new Primary School as in 1943 there were 930 pupils on the roll of the Primary School. Building commenced in 1943 and was completed in 1945. The cost of building was £45,923.00 and was built by John Hearne & Co. Waterford. This building is still in use as the Primary School today.
- In 1950 the City Corporation leased a field to the School at Rathfadden. The Corporation paid £100 to the owners Goodboys and the field was leased at a rent of £7 per year. A bulldozer had to work for two months to clear the field at a cost of £300.
- On 27th January 1956 the Torch Club was established as a Fund raiser for the school and ran until 2012.
- A new Christian Brothers’ school was opened 14th November 1959. Scoil Lorcáin cost £41,600 to build.
- Mount Sion Primary School building was built at a time when proper building materials were in short supply due to the 2nd World War. As a result the ceilings were faulty and in 1962 new ceilings were installed at a cost of £3000.
- In 1969 the School Hall was built at a cost of £50,000. Also in that year on 6th January, work commenced on the building of the new Mount Sion Secondary School. This school was opened in 1972 at a cost of £170,000.
- In 1976 a new extension was built onto the Primary School; this extension now houses rooms 1, 2 and 13 as well as the basement.
- In 1979 the Blessed Sacrament Chapel was opened on Sunday August 26th.
- In 1998 the Christian Brothers relinquished the Principalship of Mount Sion Primary School. Br. Bowling the last Christian Brother Principal handed over the Principalship to the first lay Principal Mr. Declan Foley, himself a former pupil of the school.
- In 2008 the Blessed Sacrament Chapel was taken down and replaced by the new Blessed Edmund Rice Chapel. The Monastery was refurbished and rededicated as the Edmund Rice International Heritage Centre, ERIHC.