RSD operates a House system for school-based competitions. There are 4 houses:
The house is named after John Bullingbrook, who was the first RSD headmaster. The Tyrone part of the name came from when RSD
amalgamated with Dungannon High School for Girls and the Bullingbrook
and Tyrone houses were merged.
In 1614 James (the founder of the Royal schools), angry that there had been
a six year delay since he had ordered the building of a “free school” for Co. Tyrone, demanded that the Archbishop of Armagh take immediate action. A Headmaster, John Bullingbrook was appointed in May 1614. The school was then on the shores of Lough Neagh at Mountjoy. The area is still called “College Lands” although just fields now. In 1636 the Royal School
was moved to Dungannon. Five years later in 1641 this new school was attacked and destroyed by Irish rebels. Bullingbrook and his son were forced to flee
and sought refuge in the great forest of Glenconkeyne on the western shores
of Lough Neagh. They both died of hunger and exposure.
In nearly 400 years there have only been 20 Headmasters of RSD. The shortest serving Headmaster lasted less than a day, another less than a year. The longest serving was the great Dr. Frederick Ringwood, who was Headmaster for 42 years from 1850-1892.
John George Beresford was one of two brothers who each became Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland.
In 1850 the Archbishop gave RSD a substantial sum of money; this was used to build the Cloister area, the gymnasium and two classrooms. This gym is
now the Marshall Library.
In memory of Beresford’s generosity, the “blue” house is now named after him.
General Sir John Nicholson was a pupil of RSD in the 19th Century . He
went on to achieve fame as a soldier, dying a hero’s death during the Siege of Delhi in the Indian Mutiny of 1857 . A statue of Nicholson stood beside the Delhi Gate until Indian independence , when it was removed . It eventually found its way to Dungannon in 1960 and was elected in front of the school .
It was then unveiled in the year 1967 by Lord Mountbatten , late uncle of Prince Philip . Nicholson House was the last of the four RSD houses to be founded.
Nicholson was most famous in the Northwest Frontier of India . He was amazingly brave , administered strict justice and had an awesome appearance . In India he was regarded by some as being virtually a God .
Professor R. L. Marshall wrote a poem in a school magazine of the 1930’s in which he described a dream of the Nicholson Statue standing, not in Delhi,
but in front of RSD . This came to pass some 30 years later.
400 years ago Ulster was the most Gaelic part of Ireland and resolutely
defied English attempts to extend control over the Province .
Hugh O’Neill had his headquarters in Dungannon and led the Ulster
O’Neill fought off a series of English armies. A new commander, Lord Mountjoy fought a ruthless and determined campaign against O’Neill until the great Irish chieftain surrendered in 1603.
In the years following, English and Scottish planters made Ulster their
home and RSD was registered as one of the schools for the
planters’ children .
Without Mountjoy there would have been no Ulster plantation and no Royal School , thus his name is commemorated in one of RSD’s houses.