During the late 1960's a small but significant number of children presenting for assessment by COPE Foundation were found not to be intellectually disabled but to have a learning difficulty. All of them were attending main stream schools where they were falling behind in their classes. Even if the child was identified as having educational difficulties there was little that main stream schools could do to remedy the difficulty. Classes were often too large and personal tuition was not possible. Remedial education is where the child is educated in the very small class situation for one to three years until the difficulties are helped by strategies and the child can return to main stream school.

In 1969, to meet the needs of these children, St.Killians was founded by John Birmingham, of COPE Foundation, and Monsignor J. Bastible, of South Parish, under the wing of Queen of Angels. It had 19 pupils - 16 male & 3 female. Noreen Minihan was class teacher.

On the 21st April 1969 St.Killians moved to South Mall, to the premises where 'Jacobs on The Mall' presently occupy.
In 1970 they moved to 133 Oliver Plunkett Street and in 1971 moved again to 9 Dyke Parade across from The Maltings.

In 1972 St.Killians was formally recognised by the Department of Education as a special school and the school moved yet again to Strawberry Hill. Grace O'Riordan was appointed it's first principal.
Over Ms.O'Riordan's term of office of seventeen years St.Killians, in spite of some obstacles of location, grew in size and expertise with up to as many as 50 pupils at any one time and five teachers. In September 1975 the school moved to 34 Paul Street - the present Diocesian office.
Marie Finn became school secretary in December 1975 and retired after 40 years in December 2015.

Through the 1970s and 1980s the Department of Education and COPE Foundation jointly funded, at St.Killians, a number of in-service courses on remedial education for teachers in main stream schools - the aim being to increase the number of remedial teachers in main stream teaching. In spite of this increase the numbers attending St.Killians have not fallen.

September 1984 saw the school move to Evergreen Street to a vacated primary school for infant boys originally managed by the Presentation Sisters and close to their convent in Douglas Street.

Grace O'Riordan was succeeded as principal by Maureen Peters in 1989. Noreen Minihan became deputy Prinicpal also in 1989 and served in this appointment until August 2002, when Martin Shiel was then appointed deputy.

Maureen Peters and Martin Shiel continued the good work at the school's new home on Westgate Rd. in Bishopstown where they moved to in September 2004.
Both Maureen Peters and Martin Sheil retired at the end of June 2014.

Sue Lenihan was appointed Principal on September 29th 2014 and Kerri Hollywell was appointed Deputy Principal in November 2014. There are 11 class teachers, 1 resource teacher, 15 Special Needs Assistants, two School Secretaries, an Occupational Therapist and a Speech & Language Therapist .

Our present School Secretary, Evelyn Humphries, was appointed in January 2016.

For the first time in the history of St. Killian’s, in August 2018 the school moved into their own premises at Old Youghal Rd. Mayfield.

In 1977 a pupil of St. Killians, (who went on to 3rd level education), wrote:

"I did not like it at first, but now I have some friends and my reading is getting better. I have a long trip up to Cork and back again. I have been at the school for one year and three months. I have made it on to the Student Council. It is dark when I get up. It is dark when I get home but it is worth it all."

Information for this article was taken from:
'An Ill Wind Blowing Good - The story of COPE Foundation' by John R. Teegan.