History of St Oliver Plunkett Primary School
Blessed Oliver Plunkett School opened on January in 1947. The Presentation Sisters staffed the school; a religious order founded by Nano Nagle an Irish saint.
Blessed Oliver Plunkett Church began its existence as part of the parish of St Peter and Paul’s Bulimba, under the pastoral care of Fr O’Keeffe. Archbishop Duhig had bought out several small landowners on the hill and he donated the land to the Bulimba parish. Archbishop Daniel Mannix, who was visiting Brisbane at the time, laid the foundation stone on 7th August 1921. A large crowd of 10, 000 attended the ceremony for what was described as ‘one of the most memorable Catholic functions that ever took place in Brisbane’.
As the parish continued to grow, a little band of pioneer Sisters, led by Mother Raymond Lloyd, responded to a request from Fr. Walter Cain to staff a school which was to begin in January 1947 at Cannon Hill. A small convent was built, which consisted of a chapel, a dining room (which doubled-up as a community room), a dormitory, a kitchen and a bathroom, and made ready for the Sisters’ arrival.
The choir loft of the church and underneath the convent served as classrooms for the first four years, with an initial enrolment of 60 students, until a new school, costing £4000 ($8000), was blessed and opened in 1951 under the patronage of Father Kelly. Five sisters, with no ancillary staff, managed the whole school with a population of 360 with some combined classes having as many as ninety students. The population of the school increased so quickly that the underneath of the convent continued to be used well into the fifties to accommodate the growing numbers of students.
When the Presentation novitiate moved from Longreach to Manly, in 1953, postulants and novices travelled each day to assist the Cannon Hill Community in the school. This daily trek continued for some ten years. The convent building was extended in 1956 and in May of that year the Sisters moved back on site. On 12 October 1975, Oliver Plunkett was canonised, in Rome, by Pope Paul VI (the first Irish Saint in seven hundred years), and the school changed its name from Blessed Oliver Plunkett School to St Oliver Plunkett School. Teaching at St Oliver Plunkett School remained the focus of the Sisters’ work until December 1986, when after 40 years’ service they turned their attention elsewhere. The first lay principal of St Oliver Plunkett School was Mr Keith Willard. In honour of the early founders of the school the House Teams were named Raymond, Kelly and Nagle.
As we enjoy and celebrate what we have at St. Oliver Plunkett School today, we must remember the generosity and commitment of the Presentation sisters who were the foundation of St. Oliver Plunkett School. We give thanks for their cooperation, unselfish efforts and the challenges they faced. There was then, as there is today, a special atmosphere when people of different nationalities and experiences meet with a smile, a simple conversation or a handshake, in a gesture of friendship.