Sullivan Upper School

Sullivan Upper School

Sullivan Upper
AddressBelfast Road
BT18 9EP
Phone(028) 9042 8780
(+44 28) from abroad
Fax(028) 9042 7644
HeadteacherJohn Stevenson
School typeVoluntary Grammar
School BoardSEELB - South Eastern Education and Library Board
LocationHolywood, Northern Ireland, UK
Enrollment1,100 students
School colour(s)Black and green
Motto"Lamh Foisdineach An Uachtar"

Sullivan Upper School is a mixed non-denominational voluntary grammar school in Holywood, Northern Ireland and currently has approximately 1,100 pupils. The school motto, which is printed on all the school blazers, is "Lamh Foisdineach An Uachtar", which is Irish for "with the gentle hand foremost". Although Sullivan is a non-denominational school, it is the only Grammar School in Northern Ireland to have an Irish motto.


Sullivan Lower School (equivalent to a primary school in modern terminology) was founded in 1862 by Dr. Robert Sullivan. After Sullivan's death in 1868, part of his estate was used to establish the upper school. Originally the two schools were based in Holywood's High Street, but the lower school no longer exists and the upper school has moved to a site on the edge of the town. The original building is now occupied by the town's public library.

Costello reforms

The school is opposed to the government's plans for the reform of education based on the Costello Report. These reforms will remove academic selection in Northern Ireland, which some observers think will effectively destroy the country's grammar schools. In opinion polls over 60 percent of parents in Northern Ireland are opposed to the changes.

A letter recently went out to Pupils in every year, directly from the headmaster, Mr Stevenson, raising the issue that the ethos and academic achievement of Sullivan would be changed irreparably by the post primary selection changes.


Sullivan Upper participates in various sports, including rugby, hockey and golf.

The school won the rugby 2003 Medallion Shield. Previous members of the rugby squad include David Erskine, a former senior Ireland international and Darren Cave, a current member of the Ulster Rugby Squad .

In hockey, Sullivan won the 1992 Burney cup, beating Banbridge after sudden death penalty strokes. In 2006 they reached the final again — losing 4–2. Former team members include Irish Senior International player such as Mark Raphael.

Sullivan have a golf team competing in various competitions. One notable previous member is Rory McIlroy, a young professional golfer on the European Tour.

The school song

"(first verse only)"

:"Lift up your voices Sullivan Upper":"Each one rejoices in Sullivan's name":"He who has striven, he who was learned":"Has generously given, sing his fame."

This song was written by former deputy headmaster Charlie Grime and is sung to the tune of "Morning Has Broken".

The house system

The school is divided into 4 houses: Praegar (Red), Grant (Green), McAllister(Blue) and Speers (Yellow). Two of the houses - Grant and Speers were named after Ex-Headmasters of the school, whereas Praegar was named after the sculptress Rosemund Praegar and her brother Robert. McAlister was named after the Rev. McAlister who sat on the Committee of Sullivan Schools in the 1800s - when the school was founded. The school's Preparatory Department, however, only contains three of the four houses - Grant house, which was established in the 1974-75 school year (with the first year intake of that year), only exists in the main body of the school.

Regular inter-house competitions are held to cultivate house pride - including the House Music Competition and Sports Day. In recent years Praeger has dominated the House music event. McAlister has been successful in house rugby although Grant have not done badley in recent years. Speers has held a good record in badminton and tennis. The house cup has been hotly contested recently, particularly between Praeger and Speers.

In the school year ending June 2008, Grant won the house cup by a small margin of house points. In second place were Speers, in third place Praeger, and in fourth place McAlister. This Year Speers are the favourites too lift the cup as Grant has lost many great musicians and sports stars

Notable alumni

* Garth Ennis - comics writer
* Rory McIlroy - Golfer
* David Erskine - rugby player
* Dan Gordon - Actor, most notably in sitcom "Give My Head Peace"
* Maurice Jay - DJ on radio station U105, composer, actor and broadcaster
* George Lowden - Guitar maker
* Mark McClelland - Former bass player with pop group Snow Patrol
* John McCrea - comics artist
* Dermot Murnaghan - BBC Newsreader
* Mark Simpson - BBC North of England reporter.
* Peter Wilson, stage name Duke Special - musician
* Chris Page - Radio Ulster Newsreporter
* Bobby Kildea - Guitar player with Belle & Sebastian
* Stuart Lewis - Scottish Government spokesman
* Alan Johnston - Marketing Guru
* Darren Cave - rugby player
* David Jeffrey - Linfield Football Club Manager

The 1994 attack

On 17 June 1994, Garnet Bell, a former pupil, entered the School Hall during an A Level exam carrying an improvised flame thrower, containing petrol and paraffin. Bell discharged the device, burning six pupils, three of them seriously. He was subsequently found guilty of three cases of attempted murder and three of grievous bodily harm, receiving six life sentences.

During his defence Bell claimed he was under the influence of temazepam at the time of the attack, and bore a grudge against the school for not providing him with adequate career advice. He was also convicted of the arson of his brother's house whom he unsuccessfully intended to kill.

While serving his sentence in prison, Bell died from stomach cancer in 1997 at age 48 [] .


External links

* [ Official website]

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