Mr. Seamus Mooney became principal in 1983 when Mr. Corr retired. He was headmaster until 1991.
When Mr. Mooney came to the school in 1983 there were 28 pupils. The school was housed in three mobiles which were not connected as they are now. The roofs leaked so there were buckets up the middle of the rooms to catch the drips! In winter time it was very cold and the children wore their coats in the classroom.
Toilet facilities were very basic! There was a stone building which was open to all weathers and used to fill up with leaves in the autumn and snow in the winter. Passing lorry drivers also used it. In snowy weather Mr. Mooney came to school in his wellies so that he could carry P1 children down to the toilet. One day he opened the door to prospective parents who thought he was the cleaner due to his unusual footwear!
Eventually Mr. Mooney was able to arrange with the parish priest to use the toilets in the hall which was much more satisfactory. Today we have indoor toilets and a cloakroom has also been a welcome addition to our facilities.
There was a relaxed atmosphere in the school and pupils didn’t wear uniform. There weren’t many rules either. The children were allowed to play in the field behind the present school and as there was no bell Mr Mooney just whistled to call them back to class. In summer they would sit in the field to do lessons.
There were not enough children to make up a football team so Mr Mooney paid a visit to the local Protestant school who agreed to join forces so that the children could play.
A crate of milk was left at the school gate every morning for the children but there were no school dinners. During his time here he organised for dinners to be delivered.
Swimming lessons were also arranged at the pool in Lisburn for the older children. One day when the assistant teacher was off sick he took the whole school to the pool. They thoroughly enjoyed their day out!
Ballymacward School was too small at this time to have First Communion independently so they joined with children from Oliver Plunkett for this celebration. It was a great day when for the first time children made their First Communion in the St. Peter’s Chapel at the Rock.
He admits to having no musical talents and was very grateful to Mrs. B. McCrory who was a teacher at Oliver Plunkett at that time. Her help with musical events and her input when it came to First Communion and Confirmation was invaluable. Mrs. McCrory had no other links with the school so no-one was more surprised than she was when she became principal of – you guessed it, Ballymacward Primary School.
There was and still is a strong tradition of tin whistle playing in the parish and Mr. Mooney ‘s role as a teacher was reversed when the children at Ballymacward taught him to play as well. Mr. Mooney has very happy memories of his time at Ballymacward. He said that the Rock children were a good bunch.
In 1991, Mr Mooney retired and Mr Joseph.McNamee became principal until 1994.
Mr. McNamee became principal in 1991 the year the school changed from voluntary to maintained status.
During his time the school staff increased from a three teacher school to a five teacher school and Mrs. McCrory was appointed the first Vice Principal in 1992. To accommodate the growing numbers a new classroom and staff room were added in the summer of 1992.
During Mr. McNamee’s time as Principal the school experienced several fires. In February 1993 a serious arson attack completely gutted one of the classrooms. In October 1993, the new staff-room and store were burnt. Having survived two fires in a year we thought that was our lot but in January 1994, in yet another fire, the school office was destroyed and the majority of our school records burnt. On each occasion the community rallied round and gave their invaluable support to get the school up and running again.