Further Information: St. Finian's College

Academy Street

The street got its name from the Catholic Seminary for boys that was built in 1802.  The school educated young men for the priesthood and the professions.  Father Eugene O'Reilly directed the establishment up to 1827 when he became parish priest of Navan.  He was succeeded in the school by Father O'Connor and Father Power.

The school was dedicated to St. Finian.  It was the first Catholic Boys' School in the northern half of the country.  In 1835 the Roman Catholic Academy is described as a boarding and day school.  The day pupils paid £6 per year and the boarders £25 to £35 per year.  The subjects taught were classical and mercantile knowledge.  Religious instruction was for the boarders only.

The oval shaped study hall built in the 1840s was known to generations of schoolboys as Power's Duck Egg, after the headmaster who had it built.  It was in this building that Michael Davitt was selected to run as the anti-Parnell candidate in the Meath by-election of 1892.

The seminary moved to Mullingar in 1908, and the land on which the school stood was sold.  On part of this land the County Hall was built.  St. Patrick's Classical School occupied the old St. Finian's Study Hall from 1930, (when boys' secondary education was restored in Navan), until 1970, when it moved to its present location at Moatlands.

academy st navan

St. Finian's Academy located just past the telegraph pole in the centre of the photo.

 st finian's academy

(above) Part of the St Finian's Seminary Academy building today.  The street got its name from the Seminary for boys that was built in 1802.

Photos: © Navan & District Historical Society

(below) The St. Finian's Study Hall / later the 'Old  St. Pats', fondly known as 'Powers Duck Egg'

st finian's study hall


A noticeable feature in Academy Street is the railway bridge.  In 1850 during construction, a souterrain was found in the bank cutting at Dillonsland / Academy Street, on the Dublin side of the railway embankment.  William Wilde in 1850 recorded the discovery of this souterrain when making the railway cutting.  It was T-shaped, ending in beehive chambers.

Academy Green

Situated in the suburbs of Navan town.   It was a large green attached to the Academy. (From the Ordnance Survey Field Book 1835-7)



'If you want a glass of malt that no epicure can fault, just take a walk and halt at Smyth’s select bars.'

This rhyme, was penned by Patrick Smyth, John’s Grandfather, and has been used ever since as a symbol of the quality and reliability of Smyths.

Patrick Smyth began his career as a publican at Market Square, Navan and purchased a second pub in Academy Street in December 1934.  Patrick’s son John Snr. took over the Academy Street pub and developed the bar and a shop, which became one of the first Mini-Markets in Navan.  John together with his wife Rose (of the Hyland family, Fair Green Navan, who were at the forefront of the transition from horse drawn to motor transport in the town) ran the business successfully from 1949 to 1984.

In 1984 John Jnr. the 3rd generation family member came to the business and now runs the business along with his wife Irene (a member of the Dunne family).  Irene had managed the family business Michael Dunne Hardware at Market Square for a number of years.

John and Irene embarked on a major redevelopment of the Academy Street premises in 2002.  In October that year they opened the first Gala Convenience store in Navan, where their personal slogan is 'Bringing traditional values to modern convenience.'

The stylish refurbishment of the pub was also completed in time for Christmas 2002 opening.

Since the above was written the doors have closed on this old establishment.