Although established in 1980 St. Brendan’s can trace its origins back to the 1841 establishment of a girl’s school in Birr by the Venerable Catherine Mc Auley, foundress of the Mercy Sisters. Then in 1878 the Parish invited Edmund Ignatius Rice’s Presentation Brothers to Birr and their boy’s school at Moorpark St. became part of the town’s educational history.
In the course of the 20th century both schools became ‘secondary tops’ and eventually secondary schools. In 1952 the Presentation College was established on Oxmantown Mall, with the all girls St. John’s Secondary School moving to the Convent buildings, at Wilmer Road in 1963.
Technical education dates back to the foundation of the first Technical School on Green St. in the 1920’s. Following the Vocational Education Act of 1930 a new Vocational School was built on Railway Road.
After the introduction of free education in 1967 numbers in all three schools expanded rapidly. Classes soon had to be accommodated in pre-fabricated buildings and it was obvious a new building programme was urgent. Discussions took place during the 1970’s and it was agreed to amalgamate all three schools under the new Community School model. The sod for the new school was turned by Taoiseach Liam Cosgrave in 1977 and the school opened in January 1980.
The first principal was Bro. Denis Minahane, he was succeeded in 1997 by Mr. Tom Foley and subsequently in January 2012, Mrs. Ming Loughnane succeeded Mr. Foley on his retirement.
St. Brendan’s Community School as an amalgamation of the Presentation Brothers College, St. John’s Mercy Secondary School and Birr Vocational School has a proud history of contribution to the education of South Offaly and North Tipperary, stretching back over 170 years.