The Board of Management of St Louis Secondary School, Dundalk is pleased to announce
the appointment of Michelle Dolan as permanent Principal of St Louis after three years in an
acting role. Michelle is a native of Castleblayney but has been living locally in Bridge-a-Crinn
near Dundalk since marrying local business director and cyclist, Karl Dolan in 1997.
Michelle attended Our Lady’s Secondary School, Castleblayney and studied English, History
& French in UCD, graduating with joint honours. She then moved to Wales, completing a
Post Graduate Certificate in Education and began her career teaching in Holyhead High, a
large comprehensive school where she benefited from the mentoring of excellent and skilled
colleagues. After marrying, she returned to Castleblayney to teach for a year in Our Lady’s
Secondary School before moving to a new integrated school, New-Bridge Integrated
College, Loughbrickland, Co Down.
This move north provided many opportunities for professional development training and
promotions into roles as Head of English and Head of Sixth Form. The school was growing
fast and led by inspirational principals who created dynamic teams who centred all
decisions on the needs of students of all abilities. The culmination of this management work
led to an evaluation by the Northern Ireland Inspectorate who found her leadership of the
English Department to be outstanding.
The school had a warm inclusive culture, welcoming students, parents and staff from a
diverse range of cultural and religious perspectives at a time of continuing sectarian tension
in Northern Ireland. Michelle was actively involved in developing peace and reconciliation
work in the school through a programme called Living with Diversity which brought members
of both communities, the police, paramilitaries, victims of violence and other agencies
together to learn about each other and find understanding. This was challenging work but
has led to continued links with cross-border peace and reconciliation projects, including an
opportunity to meet HRH Prince Charles and President Higgins with students last year.
Michelle took a career break in 2012 and used this time to become a Foster Carer for a
number of young people in emergency care. This was often a difficult b role but it was also
very rewarding work and gave her a deeper insight into the challenges faced by some
children and how best to work with Tusla and other social services to support the most
Michelle was appointed Deputy Principal of St Louis, Dundalk in 2014 and really enjoyed
working with Principal Lorraine Quigley until poor health in 2017 meant Lorraine had to stay
home from school to support her recovery. Education in Ireland went through many changes
since 2017 : mandatory vetting & new Child Protection legislation; the implementation of
Junior Cycle Reform; investment in Digital Technology, the impact of GDPR legislation. In
addition the St Louis school community were faced with the extra challenges caused by a
large fire in May 2018, relocation to Dkit , rebuilding,a whole-school evaluation in January
2019 and now a global pandemic! Any one of these events would have been an enormous
challenge but the quality of the relationships between staff, students and the management
team meant that the school not only survived but is thriving in 2020.
Michelle’s vision for St Louis reflects ethos and motivation of the original founders of the
congregation to empower all children to see the transformative power of education in an
inclusive, caring atmosphere built on mutual respect.
Chair of the Board Kevin Wynne was delighted: ‘We are very lucky to have a person of the
calibre of Michelle as Principal of St Louis. We have seen already how well she has
managed the school in the last three years. We wish her the best of luck in her new role.’