1939 – 1983
Mr. Tom Corr, from Limavady, came to the school as principal in 1939, at the outbreak of the war. He lodged with an aunt in Fruithill Park, Belfast and cycled up and down the mountain every day on a bicycle, which he has preserved in immaculate condition to this day.
He was joined by his future wife, Kathleen Rainey, in 1944. Canon Boyle was the manager of the school and Mrs. Corr remembers one occasion when he arrived at the school in his top hat, white scarf, horse and cart to pay her the princely sum of £8 for teaching domestic science for a year. Mr. & Mrs. Corr were married in 1948. In those days the Bishop’s regulations were that a married woman could teach for a year, but then had to finish. Hence Mrs. Corr left Ballymacward in 1949
The teachers had to do everything, including cleaning, looking after the fires and clearing out and scrubbing the dry toilets. There was no water supply. A lady called Annie Magee had a house and shop in the grounds of the church. Behind her dwelling, where the car park is now, there was a well. She used to bring up a bucket of water to the school each day.
During the war evacuees were brought into the area and attended school with local children. This doubled the number of pupils at the school. The local children attended in the morning while the evacuees attended in the afternoon. We were lucky to make contact with Mr Leo Collins from Belfast who was an evacuee at that time. He very kindly shared some of his memories with us.
In 1954, Mr. Corr decided to look for a source of water closer to the school. In addition to running water, it was hoped that it could be used to provide water for a toilet block. He contacted the local water diviner who checked the area and declared that there was a spring about 20 feet from the door of the school and 12 feet down. The parish, who were paying for the enterprise, gave Mr. Corr permission to dig in search of the spring. As had been expected , rock was soon encountered. A compressor was borrowed from a local quarry and used to bore a hole into which a stick of dynamite was placed by one of the quarrymen. Mr. Corr had the privilege of setting off the charge from the safety of the school porch. Unfortunately no water appeared after the first blast. They cleared away the debris and on the next day they bored some more holes, planted some more dynamite and this time succeeded in bringing the water to the surface. The water was soft and very pleasant to drink. Two of the local men built the toilet block which cost about £300.
Heavy snow falls are not very common nowadays, however in 1947 the school was closed for two weeks and in 1963 for one week, thanks to the snow!
The school had to wait until 1961 to get its first electricity supply.
When the school was destroyed in the arson attack of 1973, classes continued in the “Quonset Hut” where the Church Hall now stands. Conditions were far from ideal and rats were not uncommon visitors.
We asked some past pupils for their memories of the school.
Mrs. Quinn’s class found out about the old school.
In 1974, the existing school building began to take shape with the delivery of three mobile classrooms.
Mr. Corr retired in 1983 after an amazing 44 years as principal!