What Are The 10 BEST Secondary Schools In Ireland? | Our Top Picks

What are the 10 best secondary schools in Ireland? If you’re wondering this, then you’re likely either a parent looking to do your kid right in terms of education, or you might even be a young person yourself that might have some say or choice in where you go.

Ranking the top 10 isn’t an easy task, necessarily, given how subjective it can be. Graduation rates are certainly an objective measure of success of a school for some, but how much a school costs can also be a concrete source of stress or concern.

Notable former pupils can give any school prestige, but the decision can quickly get complicated when things like location, costs, and the possibility of boarding or lack thereof all get taken into consideration.

Still, for all the complexity in the process of sorting, there are 10 secondary schools in Ireland that stand out as the best over the rest. Here they are:

List Of The TOP 10 Secondary Schools In Ireland


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10) Coláiste Ghobnait:

This school is known for two things. First of all, it’s rocketing up quite a few lists of the best secondary schools Ireland has to offer. Second, it’s one of the smallest.

At the time of writing, this school which is located on Inis Oirr of the Aran Islands only had 27 pupils. There were three more boys than girls in a very exclusive school that obviously not many get into.

9) Belvedere College:

Ian Keatley and Cian Healy are just two of the more than two dozen Irish rugby internationals whose educational paths passed through this school.

The college’s track record of famous and successful pupils also includes Brian Lenihan, a former finance minister; Ger Brennan, a Dublin football star; and Cathal Pendred, the UFC columnist for the Irish Mirror. Attendance at this school runs about €5,000 annually.

8) St Munchin’s College:

Going over a list of past pupils for this Corbally college in Limerick will show you many familiar names from Munster Rugby.

This school opened its gates for the first time back in 1796, and since then, Jerry Flannery, Keith Earls, and Donncha Ryan have all attended. This non-fee paying schools no longer has boarding available, as the dorms were shut in 2004.

7) Blackrock College:

This school is another one that’s had a number of famous pupils move through its system in the past, particularly in the sport of rugby. Hugo McNeill and Fergus Slattery are both famous names from the sport to have attended here.

More recently, the school has had Luke Fitzgerald, Leo Cullen, and Brian O’Driscoll come through. Right now, the school costs as much as €17,250 per year for attendance.

6) Glenstal Abbey School:

This Limerick school has an 80-year history, but recently had more students than ever, with more than two hundred attendings. Day board runs €10,600, and seven-day boarding is as much as €17,950.

However, this school is well-known for having John M. Kelly, a former government minister, as a former pupil and testament to their success.

5) Campbell College:

Day tuition here runs more than €3,000, while boarding is nearly six times as much. As with other schools on this list, this particular school has notable former players that went on to play for Ulster following their graduation.

They include names like Chris Farrell, Paddy Wallace, and James McKinney.

4) Clongowes Wood College:

Fees run high here, in excess of €16,800. However, the school is renown for its rugby success, as its won the Leinster Senior Cup at least eight times as well as five wins for the Leinster Junior Cup too.

Notable former pupils who played rugby included Gordon D’Arcy, Fergus McFadden, Rob Kearney, and Dave Kearney. Not all of this school’s famous ex-pupils are known for rugby though, as Michael O’Leary, the CEO of Ryanair, also attended here.

3) Cistercian College:

This Roscrea school also has a strong tradition in rugby, having won the ward of Leinster Rugby School of the Year in 2015. However, rugby stars aren’t the only evidence of the quality of this school.

Former pupils include former Taoiseach Brian Cowen and Willie Mullins, an Irish Champion National Hunt trainer.

2) Gonzaga College:

This school is a fee-establishment, but the €5,000 is certainly cheaper than other schools on this list. It’s a boy’s school and widely considered the best such school in the country.

Former students include Irish rugby internationals, high court judges, and politicians. Former Tanaiste Michael McDowell and Barry Bresnihan, a former player for both the Lions and Ireland, are among the notable pupils.

1) Laurel Hill Colaiste FCJ:

This non-fee-paying girl’s school tops the list, based on several factors. First of all, it’s the only one of many non-fee-paying schools to get ranked highly each year for every year going back more than a decade.

That level of sustainable success is a good explanation for why 96.4 percent of its students wind up moving on to either an institute of technology or university.

In the country of Ireland, education is theoretically free to every student. While there are non-fee-paying schools on this list, it’s also true that wealthy and affluent families can still afford good educations for their young more so than other families.

At the same time, fee-paying schools are noticing a decline lately, which indicates that the non-fee educational establishments are doing quite well.

Also, the number of schools accepting boarding students seems to also be in a general decline, and a number of boarding schools have started accepting daytime students as a way to increase revenue and stabilize their operations.

Given all of this, you certainly have a wide variety of choices in secondary schools across Ireland. Many of them obviously have strong traditions of turning out successful rugby players, but others have created leaders, politicians, and successful corporate executives.

Regardless of what career field or path in life you would like to pursue, one or more of the schools on this list is likely to be helpful to you. Also, there are many schools that almost made this list that are still great.