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Methodist College Belfast (MCB), styled locally as Methody, is a voluntary grammar and boarding school in Belfastmarker, Northern Irelandmarker, one of eight Northern Irish schools represented on the Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference, and is a member of the Independent Schools Council. At present, the school has 1,850 pupils, aged 11 – 19, making it one of the largest schools in Belfast and the biggest grammar school in Europe. Located at the foot of Malone Roadmarker, in south Belfast, it possesses two preparatory departments (Downey House and Fullerton House), each with 280 pupils, aged 5 – 11. The college also has the largest boarding department in Northern Ireland with 142 boarders, in two boarding departments — School House (110 boys) and McArthur Hall (70 girls), though these boarding departments are to be closed in the end of summer term of 2010. The college employs 155 teachers and 99 educational support staff. Although originally founded by the Methodist Church, the school is non-denominational and features one of the broadest mixes of pupils from different communities in Northern Ireland. While the majority of the school's pupils are from a Protestant background, it also includes substantial numbers from a Roman Catholic background. Additionally there are pupils of Jewish, Hindu and Islamic backgrounds and overseas students from such places as Pakistanmarker, Malaysiamarker, Singaporemarker, Chinamarker, Hong Kongmarker and South Koreamarker.

The school is generally regarded for its high academic standards (regularly sending students to Oxfordmarker and Cambridgemarker Universities). Past pupils of the school are known as Collegians, the school has an extensive Past Pupil organisation in the form of 'The MCB Former Pupil Association', which has several branches across the world, meeting as far as Hong Kongmarker and Canadamarker as well as regular alumni reunions in Londonmarker and at Deramore. The college also has a past pupil sporting organisation in Belfast Harlequins formerly Collegians.


The school was founded in 1865 by the Methodist Church in Irelandmarker for the education of children of Methodist ministers, and opened three years later. Just three months after it opened, the college admitted "young ladies" to be educated on equal terms with boys, and the college has been co-educational ever since. As a grammar school it admits pupils based on academic selection. The Latin motto of the school is "Deus Nobiscum" (God with us).

List of head teachers

  • William Arthur
  • Henry R. Parker (1879-1890) left to become joint Headmaster of Campbell College.
  • Henry McIntosh (1890-1912)
  • Ernest Isaac Lewis (1912-1917) chemistry scholar and educationalist who devised the 'Bridge' course to introduce senior public school pupils to industry.
  • John W. Henderson (1917-1943)
  • John Falconer (1943-1948)
  • Rev Albert Ball (1948-1960)
  • Dr Stanley Worrall (1961–1974) The Worrall Sixth Form Centre was built in the modernist architectural style and was named in his honour. A vorticist mural was painted on one interior wall of the centre's "rec floor". Worrall left to pursue his interest in the ecumenical movement.
  • Dr James Kincade (1974–1988) Retired in 1988. Kincade also served as the Chairman and National Governor, Broadcasting Council for Northern Ireland..
  • Dr Wilfred Mulryne OBE (1988–2005). Wilfred Mulryne was a Church of Ireland lay preacher and a former pupil. A Classics graduate of the University of Cambridgemarker, he taught at the Methodist College, before becoming Headmaster of the Royal School, Armagh in 1979. In 1998 Mulryne was awarded an honorary Doctorate of Education by the University of Ulster. Shortly after his retirement in 2005, he was awarded the Allianz Award for Services to Education in Ireland, along with a Distinction Award from the Belfast Institute of Further and Higher Education. He now sits on the Governing Bodies' Association (GBA) for schools.
  • Cecilia Galloway (2005–2006). Former headmistress of the Royal Latin Schoolmarker in Buckinghamshire, succeeded Wilfred Mulryne at Christmas 2005. She was the first headmistress in the school's history. In 2006 Galloway's management style was criticised. Staff claimed that she had increased their workloads, comparing her to Alan Sugar. She denied the claims, stating that her style was "democratic, transparent and straight-talking". On 20 October 2006, Galloway announced that she was resigning from Methody, citing personal problems, such as "problems with buying and selling property and the management of her husband's business interests". She officially left her post on 31 October 2006.
  • Mrs M. P. White (Acting) (2006-2007). Following Mrs Galloway's departure, Mrs White assumed the acting headship. Formerly a modern languages teacher.
  • Scott Naismith (2007-). Appointed by the Board of Governors in March 2007, formerly of Regent House, Newtownards. He assumed office in the summer of 2007.

Recent achievements

In 1998 and 2002, the Senior Girls' Choir won the Sainsbury'smarker Choir of the Year: the first choir to win the competition in two successive years. The Chapel Choir won the Songs of Praise School Choir of the Year and the UTV School Choir of the Year in 2004. It was subsequently asked to sing at services in Westminster Abbeymarker in August 2004, and in 2005 performed with the Vienna Boys' Choir, in Viennamarker, Austriamarker. Both of these choirs are led by Ruth McCartney MBE, the head of music in Methody.

There is a Model United Nations Society within the College. The college has won prizes at the Bath International Schools Model United Nations Conference , Model United Nations at Cheadle Hulme and George Watsons College Model United Nations. In 2003, a delegation of students went to Yale University, New Haven, to attend the Yalemarker Model United Nations Conference. They won the overall best delegation award representing the United Kingdommarker. In 2005, a further delegation attended the North American Invitational Model United Nations Conference, hosted by Georgetown Universitymarker in Washington DCmarker. In March 2007 a team from MCB went to New York for the National High Schools Model United Nations. In March 2008, another MCB team attended GWCMUN at George Watson's Collegemarker, Edinburgh. The team was successful in attaining the best delegation in General Assembly award, as well as jointly winning the best overall delegation award with a team from Hampstead Schoolmarker. A number of delegates also won individual awards.

In 2005, a new boathouse costing £600,000, was opened on the banks of the River Laganmarker. In addition, the rowing club has won numerous regattas and various head of rivers in recent years.

In April 2007, the MCB Junior Choir won the Under-15 Secondary School choir competition at the Bangor International Choral Festival. Also, in the school year 2004-2005, the Junior Choir won a competition and the title of "BBC Radio Three Children's Choir of the Year". They were led by Lynda Barrett.

International students entering the British Council International Student of the Year competitions have also been successful with pupils shortlisted and named Northern Ireland International Student of the Year in 2008.

Also in June 2008, the MCB J16 8 won the Craig Cup, a major rowing competition, beating tough competition from Portora, RBAI, Bann and Coleraine Institute boatclubs.

Future plans

The school will shortly undertake extensive rebuilding works over a number of years. Essentially the whole school is being rebuilt save for the Main Building, McArthur Hall, the Chapel of Unity and the Sports Hall. On 23 June 2008, it was announced that in 2010 the boarding department of the school will close down and that School House and McArthur Hall will be converted to usage as classrooms and offices. The decision made by the Board of Governors was "extremely difficult to take given the history of boarding at Methody and caused those involved great deal of angst. However, it has been taken with the best interests of the future of the overall College in mind."

Fullerton House

There has been a preparatory department in the main buildings of the college since it opened in 1868. The present building was opened in 1975 at the Lisburn Road end of the Methodist College campus. The first position however, was in the vestibule of 11 College Gardens, Belfast.

Downey House

Downey House was opened in 1933 following the purchase of Pirrie Park from Harland and Wolffmarker, as the college playing fields. The existing buildings were modernised and extended. It was founded by William Fullerton and named after John Downey.

Rugby Club

The school rugby teams have won the Ulster Schools Cup 32 times, more than any other school, and Medallion Shield a record 33 times. The college owns its own rugby pitches at Pirrie Park. An extensive redevelopment plan is planned for 2010, including a new pavilion to be named after former PE teacher David Wells.

In 2007, Methody Medallion team beat Regent House 15-10 at Ravenhill to win the Medallion Shield, but the 1st XV lost to R.B.A.I. in the semi-finals of the Schools Cup.

In 2008, the 1st team won the Ulster Schools Cup. They beat Regent House 36-0 in the final. The Medallion Shield was lost when the team was defeated in the semi-final.

In 2009, the 1st XV defeated Royal Belfast Academical Institution in the final of the Schools Cup. The man of the match went to Michael Allen, for the second consecutive year, scoring two tries. The Medallion Shield was recovered from the hands of R.B.A.I, when Methody beat Campbell Collegemarker in the final at Ravenhill. The 3rd XV and 4th XV met in the final of the 3rd XV Cup with the 3rd XV winning 10-6.


The course is taught over a period of one academic year by Dr Graham Murphy, and makes use of the Faulkes Telescopes. Notably, the subject attracts many young entrants, the youngest being in 2nd form (13 years at time of exam), and 3rd form (14 years at time of exam).A less formal club is occasionally run at lunchtimes, in which pupils can watch videos, talk about current issues, such as light pollution, and the night sky and prepare projects for science fairs. The club has made observations with the Faulkes Telescope North.

Notable events include:
  • Observations with Faulkes Telescope North
  • Participation in Seagate Young Investigators Science Fair
  • Addition of Hubble space telescope

Chess Club

Methodist College Chess Club was set up by Brian Thorpe and Arthur Willans in 1960. After Brian Thorpe's retirement in 1994, Dr Graham Murphy took over and presided over victory in both the Irish Colleges Chess Championship and the British Schools Chess Championship (sponsored at that time by The Times newspaper). In addition to the outright victory in the British Schools Chess Championship in 1995, the College finished 3rd in 1970 and 1979, and 4th in 1986 and 1997. The British Schools Championship Plate Competition for runners-up of the zonal heats was won in 1994, the first year the Plate competition was held. Methody won the inaugural Irish Colleges Championship in 1976 , the first of several wins. The Ulster Schools Division One title has been won on many occasions.

The most distinguished former member is International Master Brian Kelly, who occupied Board 1 in the successful 1995 team. Kelly also won a Gold Medal at the Chess Olympiad in Moscow in 1994 playing at Board 5. Past pupils Brian Kerr, Tom Clarke, Angela Corry and Roger Beckett have also represented Ireland at Chess Olympiads.The Ulster Chess Championship has also been won by Methody alumni on 11 occasions, although only John Nicholson(1971,1973), Paul Hadden(1975), and Brian Kelly(1994) won whilst still at school. Brian Kelly is the only Methody alumnus to have won the Irish Chess Championship - in 1995 and 2007,Tom Clarke having come close, but losing on Tiebreak.

Hockey Club

The school has played hockey since the 1890s. One of the earliest matches was when a Collegians ladies' team beat the schoolgirls 4-0 in 1896.

The girls' club celebrated its centenary in 1996 with a series of special matches. MCB possesses its own artificial turf pitch, located at Belfast Harlequins on the Malone Roadmarker.

In January 2007, boys' 1st XI player Douglas Montgomery was selected to represent the school as part of a delegation from Belfast Harlequins that met with President of the Republic of Irelandmarker, Mary McAleese in Phoenix Park, Dublin. This meeting was to mark the Club's cross community work.

Alan Green of BBC Radio 5 Live was one of the most famous players, off the field, that the school ever produced. Full international players include Ian Kirk-Smith, Gregg Sterritt, Andrew McBride (for Scotland as a "forgotten exile"), Neil Dunlop and Norman Crawford. Many pupils have represented Ulster at Junior and under age levels, including Connor Montgomery representing Ulster Under 16s at the IHA Interprovincial Tournament, Shawsbridge, 2008.

The most recent success for the boys was the Burney Cup win in 1999. The Cup was presented to the team by Ulster Branch president and ex-pupil Peter Wood. In 2008 the 1st team beat Friends School Lisburn in the Dowell cup final.

The girls have not won the Senior Schoolgirls Cup competition since 1988 (when it beat Friends 2-0). The school has the most wins in the history of the Cup, however most of the success came prior to World War II.

Of the current girls' team, Helen Stevenson was selected for the Ulster and Irish U18 team and was selected as a reserve at the senior Ireland development camps.

Old Collegians








  • Lord Robin Eames, was the Anglican Primate of All Ireland and Archbishop of Armagh from 1986 to 2006. He received The Order of Merit from The Queen, in June 2007.


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