In 1970, it was the mission of a group who formed as the the County Wicklow Association to provide schooling and care for individuals with moderate and severe learning disabilities.
It was a daunting task for a group of people without land, buildings or finance and without official recognition from any state body. However, the Eastern Health Board offered some rooms in the Nurses Home at Newcastle Hospital which were converted into two small classrooms, a kitchen, a small office and a staffroom and in September 1972 the school opened with 12 pupils, 2 teachers, a nurse and a cook. The school was called ‘St. Catherine’s’, as it is adjacent to St. Catherine’s Well which is opposite Gregory’s Garage.
The catchment area for the students stretched from Arklow to Bray and to the mountains in the West and this provided great transport difficulties. One estate car did the round trip twice daily between Newcastle, Arklow, Avoca, Greenane, Rathdrum, Glenealy, Rathnew and Wicklow. A minibus transported the children from Bray and Greystones.