Venerable Mary Ward (1585 – 1645) founded the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary (IBVM) in 1609 to provide education in the faith and in the liberal arts for Catholic girls then denied access to schools. Gradually, overcoming serious obstacles, IBVM schools were established around Europe (including England) based on the education plan of the Jesuits who already had schools for boys in a number of countries.

When Frances Teresa Ball of Dublin - a former student of IBVM York and now an IBVM Sister – introduced the IBVM to Ireland in 1821, Catholics in this country were emerging from centuries of oppression and were now allowed by law to run schools.

Frances Teresa Ball and her first companions brought the spirit and educational tradition of Mary Ward to Ireland where the Sisters and their schools became known as ‘Loreto’.

The Primary schools opened by Loreto Sisters joined the National school system from 1831.

However, for over 50 years after the first Loreto school opened, there was no formal ‘system’ for catholic Secondary schools in Ireland. Consequently, the Loreto Sisters were free to design their own curriculum and approach to education. The educational charism – inherited from York – became embedded in the Loreto Primary, Secondary and grammar schools which were set up in Ireland and around the world over the following years. This charism - which is distinctive though not unique – continues as the heart of what Loreto seeks to provide in their schools, despite ever – changing educational and social circumstances.

Loreto College, Foxrock is a voluntary Catholic Secondary School under the direction of the Loreto Sisters (IBVM). The school, which was opened in 1941 at the request of the Archbishop of Dublin, Most Reverend John Charles McQuaid, is situated on the Bray Road, in the parish of Foxrock. The Archbishop asked Mother Pauline Dunne, Superior General of Loreto, to open a Junior and Secondary school in Foxrock. The Sisters arrived in the house on September 8, 1941. School began two days later. The pupil numbers were in single digits for the first few weeks, but had grown to 28 by the following Spring.

Work on the construction of the Chapel (now the Staff room) began in January 1942. It must be remembered that these early years of the 1940s marked the end of the Second World War, and conditions were difficult for all. When the Architect for the Chapel sought the iron girders needed for the construction, it was found that none could be sourced. He solved the problem by supporting the roof by two rows of pillars, which were considered to add to the dignity of the building.

In September 1942, the school was officially recognised as a Secondary school by the Department of Education & Science.

The Kindergarten/Junior school block was completed and occupied by Christmas l942, and by May of l943, there were 50 pupils in the schools. In that year, sports began to play an important part in the curriculum of Loreto, Foxrock.

However, the Annals record that wartime travelling conditions prevented participation in the inter-Loreto sports competitions; so friendly matches were arranged between the local schools. In l952, the junior hockey Cup was the first trophy won by the school, under the captaincy of Chela Neary.

The Annals record many sporting triumphs and trophies over the following years.

In the school year 1953 - 1954, plans were drawn up for the construction of the Concert Hall and the Science room to the front of the building. The building now known as St. Michaels was originally built in l966.

The Annals of the school include many anecdotes about the earliest pupils who are included by name. It is sad to record that a number of these pupils died at very young ages from illnesses which would now be treated successfully, given advances in Medical Science. One such pupil was Olga Hick who appears in the records as the very first pupil to arrive in the new Loreto School in Foxrock.

The first member of the Community to die was the well-loved Mother Imelda McInerney who had been in charge of the Kindergarten from its opening until her death in l956 at the age of 37. Many past pupils still recall her care for them and her wonderful sense of humour.

The buildings on campus house the Secondary school and the Loreto Education office. The School buildings have been erected on a phased basis in response to educational needs and student population. In the1980s, the old prefabricated building was updated and became known as St. Michael’s and the Sports Hall was built. A fully equipped gymnasium was added in 2004.

In 1999 the Community Chapel was developed as a Staff room. In response to the increasing student population in the Secondary School, the Junior School and Kindergarten classrooms were reallocated for use in the Secondary School. In 2000, a large extension was added to the lunchroom along with two additional classrooms and a fully equipped Computer Room. In 2006 further classrooms were added and in summer 2009 the original Chemistry laboratory was updated.

Between 2010 and 2012 the building which previously housed the kindergarten, quad and St Michael's was demolished a new 2 – story building which comprises 8 classrooms, 2 art rooms, 5 laboratories, a music room, a library, an oratory, a computer room, a 6th Year common room, a special education area and administrative space was built. This area is furnished and equipped with state of the art facilities to meet the educational needs of our students.

The grounds include a floodlit astroturf hockey pitch; astroturf tennis/basketball courts and a grass play area.

The school is a fee-charging Secondary Day School, and is run by the Board of Management, under the Trustee-ship of the Loreto Trust.  The school celebrated its 75th anniversary in 2016 – 2017.

The main aim of the school is to be a centre of Christian Education, which cares for the faith, and personal development of each student. The school strives for excellence in providing a holistic education for each student addressing her, academic, cultural, physical, psychological and social development. 

Loreto College Foxrock maintains the educational tradition begun by Mary Ward (1585-1645), foundress of other I.B.V.M., and continues to be enriched by it.