Skip to main content

Promoting Ethos

Mission Statement

Mercy Mounthawk Catholic Voluntary Secondary School is witnessing community which fosters:

  • The full potential of all staff and students
  • A positive partnership between all members of the school and wider community
  • The highest standards of teaching, learning and performance.

Tuiscint – Understanding

We strive that our students may grow in wisdom, not just in the knowledge of subjects or in the skills needed for a job, but in a deep-seated understanding of their God given selves and the gift that they carry for the benefit of others.

Treoir – Direction and Guidance

We provide guidance through a full range of interventions and learning experiences, developmental in nature which assist all of our students to make informed choices in three key areas: Personal and social life, education and in relation to careers.

Trócaire – Mercy

We continue the rich tradition of Mercy education in Tralee. Our school brings together the wealth of experience from St. John’s Balloonagh and St. Mary’s Moyderwell, both established as ‘secondary top’ schools in 1925. Our roots are deep in Tralee and our education is imbued with the spirit of the Mercy Philosophy which is committed to the holistic development and the achievement of the full potential of each student.
The School Crest

Tuiscint, Treoir, Trócaire

Our School crest enshrines the values that we hold in educating our students.

Tuiscint, Treoir, Trócaire
Our School crest enshrines the values that we hold in educating our students.

Celebrating our Faith

Celebrating our Faith

As a Catholic Voluntary school we understand ourselves to have a role in the formation of young people in the faith.  We support this development in a number of ways in the school.

We mark the Church year in the school with a series of liturgies:

  • a beginning of the year Mass to Celebrate Mercy Day
  • Penitential services in Advent and Lent
  • a Carol Service at Christmas
  • involvement with the Parish in the Easter ceremonies
  • a Graduation Mass for our 6th years
  • a Transition Year Christmas Mass

Through timetabled Religion classes, there is a systematic programme in formation in religious knowledge and faith formation.

Throughout the year, there are class and year assemblies to mark feast days and important seasons of the year.

We have retreats and reflection days for 4th and 5th year students.

As a school we celebrate Catholic Schools Week. Please see here for a short video for CSW 2023

We are lucky to have a wonderful prayer space designed when the school was opening – the gift of the Mercy Sisters in Tralee to the school.  This Prayer room is used by religion classes to provide a quiet reflection space for meditation and prayer and as a space to hold liturgies to celebrate different moments in the liturgical year.

Faith Development - School

Faith Development

“Faith is not simply the subject matter of particular lessons but forms the foundation of all that we do and the horizon of all that takes place in the school.”  (Vision ’08)

The goal of Catholic education is the formation of the student. Catholic education prepares people not merely for the world of work but for the challenges of life. It provides learning experiences for students and teachers that will develop their capacity to think critically. It helps them to be fully human and fully alive.

Catholic Education is a lifelong process of human growth and development. It is more than schooling. It begins in the home, continues in the school and matures through involvement with the Christian community in the parish. These three dimensions of home, school and parish must work together if Catholic education is to truly attain its goal of forming mature human persons in the image and likeness of Christ.

Catholic education promotes the development of the whole person based on the belief that the human and the divine are inseparable. It promotes an explicit system of values based on the Gospels.


The choir performs at the Christmas Carol Service in St. Brendan’s church. This annual event sees a mixture of traditional and modern carols and hymns sung on the night.

In May the choir travels to Knock, Co Mayo to provide the liturgical music at the Donal Walsh  anniversary Mass. Donal’s fifth anniversary event was televised by RTE and shown on the RTE mass program the following Sunday morning. You can view the Mass here.

Our Transition Years organise a Christmas Mass each year at which the full cohort partake in all aspects of the ceremony  especially the carol singing. By organising bagpacking, bake sales, colour days, the TY Fashion show and other events the students raise money for local charities. In a typical year our Transition Year students will raise between fifteen and twenty thousand euro for worthy causes.

We have a food drive every December to help families in need.

Our students, every year, act as volunteers on the Kerry Pilgrimage to Lourdes. They help and care for young people with a variety of special needs including physical and medical conditions.

Catholic Schools Week

How has the Catholic ethos in Mercy Mounthawk influenced your faith development?

You can see a short film here produced by our students where they describe how being a member of the school community has influenced their own faith development.

Faith Development - Home and Family

Home and Family

Parents have the primary responsibility for nurturing faith in their children and the school supports parents in this by providing not only an excellent academic education but also a high quality Religious Education programme for its students.

Parents get involved with school life by being active in the Parents’ Council which acts as a voice for the parent/guardian population. All parents/guardians of pupils enrolled in the school are automatically members of the Parents’ Council.

World Meeting of Families August 2018

Very early on Saturday morning, the 25th August, two buses of students and teachers set off for Dublin to volunteer at the Papal mass in the Phoenix Park on the Sunday. We stayed at Coláiste Bríd , Clondalkin and visited the Phoenix park on the Saturday evening to prepare us for the main event on the Sunday. We were on site by 7am on Sunday morning and worked until about 8pm. It was the experience of a lifetime and a memorable occasion that has become a cherished memory for all of us present.

Family Week

In the year of the Family, 2018,  we held a Family Week in March where the focus throughout the school was on the importance of communication in the home and in particular the sharing of meals in the evening for the duration of that week. The school invited all students and their families to disconnect from all screen time for one hour every evening and to spend that hour reconnecting and sharing a family meal where possible.A full report on the Family initiative for 2018 is available here. The infographic below sets out very clearly how our students feel about Social Media and its impact on family life.

Faith Development - Parish


Our Christmas Carol Service is held in our local Parish Church of Our Lady and  St. Brendan and at the start of every new school year we celebrate mass for past and present staff members.

You can access the Parish website here.

For an number of years now we celebrate, with our Parish, earth day at the end of April. Our little planet in the vastness of the cosmos is the only home we have. It is the sanctury of all mankind, our common home. Pope Francis tells us:

“The urgent challenge to protect our common home includes a concern to bring the whole human family together to seek a sustainable and integral development, for we know that things can change. The Creator does not abandon us; he never forsakes his loving plan or repents of having created us. Humanity still has the ability to work together in building our common home…Young people demand change. They wonder how anyone can claim to be building a better future without thinking of the environmental crisis and the sufferings of the excluded.”

We work with WorldWise Global Schools to promote the Global Goals for Sustainable Development. We have received grant aid from WWGS,for a number of years, which has allowed us develop our school garden and pathway and provide a living classroom for sustainable development education. The grants from WWGS have enabled our Student Council highlight issues such as Child Labour in Cobalt Mining,Fast Fashion, Global Food Systems and Sustainable Transport.

Faith Development - Involvement in Social Justice

Involvement in Social Justice

As part of student formation in Mercy Mounthawk, students are encouraged to deepen their understanding of Social Justice.  We provide opportunities in Mounthawk for students to grow in their understanding  of the challenges that face so many people in our own Irish society and further afield.

We encourage student s to get involved in social action projects in the school and to give of their time to charities and fundraising.  And over the years students have shown themselves to be passionate about getting involved: bag packing, shaving heads, Christmas food appeal, teacher v’s student matches and all manner of creative tasks to help raise money for those in need.

TY’s attend the Parish Day every November where they take part in discussions and debates on issues of socia justice and faith. Recently our Transition Year students joined others from Tralee in the Ballyroe Hotel. They had inputs from the SMA Team on Climate Justice, the Tralee Youth Ministry Group and Elma Walsh speaking about Donal Walsh and his message. The SMA Team spoke about their Thumb-Print campaign. The students promised ” To take greater care of the earth, our common home, and to use energy and the materials of this world wisely and carefully”.Well done to all who were invloved.

Building Leadership - School Awards

Building Leadership

As a school we are concerned that we are preparing the leaders of tomorrow, the young people who in their turn will guide this country through the better part of this century. And so we provide our students with opportunities to get involved in organisations and challenges and competitions that will support them in developing their capacity to lead.

Students in the school are involved in:

The School Awards Night

The President’s Gaisce awards

The Garda Youth Achievement Awards.

The Students’ Council 

Involvement in these groups and organisations helps students to see beyond the cares of their own lives to the call to serve their communities and to use their abilities and talents for the benefit of others – in short to become leaders.

Recognising and encouraging character development, our School Awards

Each year we celebrate the achievements, the dedication and the potential of our students with an annual awards night. Behind each of the awards is a person with a set of character strengths which we want to acknowledge in this school. These strengths are important qualities that we nurture in our young people to build strong resilient personalities. Take for instance the ‘attendance awards’: – attending school each day speaks of dedication, a sense of duty and dependability – very significant traits that distinguish the young people who have achieved this award. Consider the ‘Comhar awards’, which celebrate those students who have that generosity of spirit to help others – they display compassion and a sense of empathy. It might be easy to overlook the academic awards – but these awards are achieved by young people who have a sense of curiosity which drives them to learn, they have dedication and self discipline and are well on the way to building wisdom.

Every year in the school, there are significant achievements that we also celebrate from All Ireland titles in basketball and athletics, to debating, to drama to music. It would be a mistake to forget that all of these achievements too are built on strengths of character; commitment to practice,  self-discipline, an ability to work as a team player, the guts and determination and fight to push for the winning basket or goal. There is a challenge in looking under the surface of awards and achievements to identify and acknowledge the qualities of character in which those achievements are rooted.

Awards Night May 2023

Mercy Secondary School Mounthawk held its annual Awards Ceremony on Tuesday 16th May in the School (see the event here).  With over 200 award winners and their parents and friends in attendance, the school hall was thronged for the event. Awards were presented to students across a wide number of categories from Academic awards, to School Spirit, to Christian Leadership and covering a spread of extra-curricular achievements.

Building Leadership - Gaisce Awards


Gaisce or ‘great achievement’ is a self-development programme for young people between the ages of 15-25 and has been in existence since 1985. The programme believes in the ability and resilience of young people and nurtures that ability to help them realise their full potential.The programme has four aspects: Community , Physical, Personal skill and Action Adventure. (From the gaisce website)

Dakotah Carter – O’Flynn and Laura Egan began their Gaisce journey during Transition Year in Mercy Mounthawk with the Bronze Gaisce award which they received in 2017. At the start of Sixth Year, they decided to continue to progress towards obtaining the Silver Award. This award symbolises dedication, hard work, and growth. It involves a 26 week period of each of the following: volunteering in the community, developing a new skill and partaking in physical activity. Their experience involved volunteering with Irish girl guides where, as senior Branch members they mentored the Junior guides. They also undertook a 26 week programme of video editing where they made 26 short films on topics such as DIY, cooking and how to succeed in secondary school. They learned skills such as applying effective transitioning, lighting, audio and camera angles. The third component of the programme involved a 26 week physical endeavour activity comprising swimming and soccer. The last element of the Silver Gaisce award is an adventure hike in which participants spend two days and three nights pushing their boundaries to successfully plan to carry out and complete the adventure journey. As the famous quote suggests “the best-laid plans of mice and men go awry”, for them this was no exception. Their hike on the Dingle way involved enduring storm Hannah, foraging for food and vlogging for their Gaisce Youtube channel. Dakotah and Laura utilised their video editing skills, developed over 26 weeks, to make a documentary of their three day adventure journey.  However it was all worth it, as on Tuesday night, 30th April in Thomond Park,they, as two out of the five awardees in Kerry this year, received their Silver Gaisce medals. Mr. Shane Kissane, the Deputy Principal of Mercy Mounthawk acted as their PAL (President’s Award Leader) for both awards and will continue to do so as they strive for the Gold award in 2021.

The TY class in the school are encouraged to participate in the GAISCE awards and indeed they have great fun in the process. For more information on Gaise and the experience of students who participate in it read the following account….  Gaisce Awards 2

Building Leadership - Garda Youth Achievement Awards

Garda Youth Achievement Awards

The Lee Strand/Kerry Garda Youth Achievement Awards are held for youths between the ages of 13 and 21 years and recognise the great contribution young people have made and continue to make to their communities in Kerry.

Speaking at the launch Chief Superintendent Tom Myers stated; “An Garda Síochána are delighted to be associated with the Lee Strand Kerry Garda Youth Achievement Awards. We often underestimate the worth of our youth who are both innovative and important to our future. It is important to recognise their excellence in the area of sports, arts, culture, charities or caring for a relative or friend. The awards have a positive effect on our wider community and I would like to extend our appreciation and thanks to Lee Strand for their continued sponsorship and support over the past 21 years.”

John O’Sullivan, General Manager, Lee Strand stated; “Lee Strand has a strong commitment to supporting initiatives within the local community and we are delighted to support the Kerry Garda Youth Achievement Awards since 1998. The awards provide a great opportunity to celebrate and recognise the achievements of the young people of Kerry, who have made a positive impact within their local community.”

This will close in 0 seconds