The Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary, better known in Ireland as the Loreto Order, was founded in England by Mary Ward in the 17th century. The Order was introduced into Ireland in 1821 by Mother Frances Teresa Ball. In 1854, the then Bishop of Raphoe, Dr. McGettigan, invited the Order to set up a secondary school for girls in Letterkenny and gave them the house which still forms the nucleus of the Convent. The day-school opened on September 4th 1854 with five pupils.
A new wing with a Concert Hall was built in 1939 and further extensions were added in 1972, 1978 and 1986, bringing the school to its present standard of accommodation and facilities.
A further extension has been sanctioned by the Department of Education and Science and should be ready for occupation by September 2004. The present enrolment is now over one thousand students.
From the 1920’s until 1976 Loreto Letterkenny was an all-Irish school. It ceased to be a boarding school in 1978.
This school is one of nineteen Loreto Secondary Schools in Ireland. The Loreto schools share a common educational philosophy and maintain links through inter-school co-operation and extra-curricular activities.