Staff 2019

The Royal and Prior Comprehensive School

The Royal and Prior School has ancient origins being established by an order of King James I in 1608. The original intention was to establish a school in the counties of Armagh, Tyrone, Londonderry, Fermanagh, Donegal and Cavan. These schools were created to provide education for children of the settlers who had arrived with the Ulster Plantation.  It took ten years for the land for the school in Donegal to be conveyed and for a master, the Rev Bryan Morrison, to be appointed. The school was open to fee paying day and boarding boy pupils and prepared them for matriculation at university. The original school was built in Donegal Town but was relocated to Raphoe in 1661. In 1737 the Royal School House situated to the rear of the Cathedral in Raphoe was constructed through the generosity of Nicholas Foster, Bishop of Raphoe. A plaque on the west wall records this event with the inscription Schola Regia Donegalensis 1737. Inside the school house there was a separate room with its own entrance for a Diocesan Library. Within the school grounds there was also built an infirmary, called Foster House, which also served as a residence for assistant masters.  The school’s location ensured that its development was always on a provincial and not a national level as all the nobility and the landed gentry would have sent their children to England for education. An important moment in the development of the school occurred in 1971 when it was merged with The Prior School in Lifford which had been established in 1880 through the monies bequeathed by Miss Eleanor Prior of Ballindrait. The newly amalgamated school, which was renamed, The Royal and Prior Comprehensive School, was constructed just outside the town of Raphoe. Over the last forty years the buildings and grounds have blended into a mature pastoral setting. The school roll now stands at 549 with students coming from all parts of the county. The Royal School House now serves as boarding accommodation for 31 boarders from all over Donegal and sometimes from further afield.  The Royal and Prior continues to flourish nearly 400 years since its foundation fulfilling the aims of its founder, “for the education of youth in learning”.

School Motto: In hoc signo vinces – (Under this sign we are victorious). This is the motto of the O’Donnell Family; legend has it that St Patrick struck the shield of Conall, son of King Niall of the Nine Hostages, with his crozier (called Bachall Isa: the staff of Jesus) inscribing on it the sign of the cross. This legend is also described several centuries later in the Lebhar Inghine i Dhomhnaill. His land became Tír Chonaill, Tyrconnell, the land of Conall which now makes up a large part of the county of Donegal.

Mission Statement

As a Christian School we will enable all students to achieve their full potential in a happy, secure and respectful environment.  To this end we foster an atmosphere of learning and responsibility.

400th anniversary of the founding of the five Royal Schools in Ulster in 2008

A lot of activites took place to mark the 400th anniversary of the founding of the five Royal Schools in Ulster in 2008. Collectively our own, the Royal School Cavan, Dungannon, Portora and Armagh Royal were founded by Royal Charter of King James I in 1608. As a joint venture between the five schools, it is planned to mark the quatercentenary with a series of special events. A history of the five schools will be published. A service of Thanksgiving and Celebration will be held. Sporting and cultural events will bring pupils, staff and parents together. Historical lectures and displays are planned. The celebration of the 400th anniversary represents a unique and high profile cross-border opportunity to focus on the history of the five schools, which share an initial foundation in time and to enhance links between them.

Queen visits to celebrate the 400th Anniversary of the five Royal Schools

The Queen, accompanied by His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh, was guest of honour today at a reception in The Royal School Armagh held to celebrate the 400th Anniversary of the five Royal Schools of Ulster.


To celebrate their foundation the five schools, The Royal School Armagh, Portora Royal School, Enniskillen, The Royal School Dungannon, Cavan Royal School, and The Royal and Prior School Raphoe have joined together in a unique cross-border initiative and formed a separate company known as “The 1608 Royal Schools” to focus on their histories.Stuart Deane from the Royal and Prior School Raphoe presented the Queen with a book on the history of the five Royal schools.