1859 – 1939

The earliest record of a school at the Rock dates back to 1859. Ballymacward National School was a small thatched building located near the present church. In late 1905, three local farmers objected to pollution on their land arising from the sanitary arrangements at the school and parochial house. This land ran down to the Stoneyford Reservoir which was owned by the Belfast Water Commissioners. After protracted negotiations involving the Trustees of the school, Bishop Henry, and the Belfast Water Commissioners, it was decided to demolish the school and to build a new one away from the drainage area of the Reservoir.

 

The new school was sited a short distance up the road where the fall of the ground was in the other direction. The cost of the development was met by the Belfast Water Commissioners and the Parish, rather than the government, thus making it a voluntary school, run by the diocese. The parish priest was the manager of the school and all teaching appointments were determined by him.

Ballymacward Primary School opened its doors in 1906 and the building survived until Saturday 15th September 1973 when it was destroyed by fire. It was a two-roomed, stone building, well built and very dry. The principal’s room was a good size, approximately 20 feet by 20 feet, whilst the assistant teacher’s classroom was about 20 feet by 11 feet. There was a fireplace at each end of the building. The assistant had to work in uncomfortable conditions, particularly during the winter, with the fire at her elbow and the blackboard above it. The roof was supported by beautiful beams made of Swedish Elm.

The first principal of the new school in 1906 was Mr. T. Reilly, followed in 1926 by Mr. Dermot Farnan.