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Lisburn, Co. Antrim, Northern Ireland
 
 

 

 
 
 
 

Open weekend marks the closure of Tullymacarette Primary School

Past and present Tullymacarette teachers L to R: Mary Hughes - Vice Principal (1975 to present), Laura Cairns - Principal (1996 to present), Arthur Gibson - Former Principal (1974 - 1996), Margaret Potts - Teacher (1956 - 1991),Isabel McDowell (nee Poots) - School Secretary (1987 - present) and Joan Bloomer - Teacher (1984 - 2000) are pictured with former pupils William Lindsay, Marjorie Cushnie (nee Kelly), Clarence Morton, Stanley Stewart, Dr Harold Harvey, John Kelly and Sam Thompson at an ‘Open Night’ at Tullymacarette Primary School on Friday 1st June marking the forthcoming closure of the school this summer. Stanley Stewart (fourth from right) attended both the old and present Tullymacarette school.

Past and present Tullymacarette teachers L to R: Mary Hughes - Vice Principal (1975 to present), Laura Cairns - Principal (1996 to present), Arthur Gibson - Former Principal (1974 - 1996), Margaret Potts - Teacher (1956 - 1991),Isabel McDowell (nee Poots) - School Secretary (1987 - present) and Joan Bloomer - Teacher (1984 - 2000) are pictured with former pupils William Lindsay, Marjorie Cushnie (nee Kelly), Clarence Morton, Stanley Stewart, Dr Harold Harvey, John Kelly and Sam Thompson at an ‘Open Night’ at Tullymacarette Primary School on Friday 1st June marking the forthcoming closure of the school this summer. Stanley Stewart (fourth from right) attended both the old and present Tullymacarette school.

Tullymacarette Primary School (near Dromore) opened its doors last Friday evening and Saturday afternoon to allow an informal reunion of past and present pupils and teachers. The event marked the forthcoming closure of the school this summer. The present school, which dates from 1939, replaced an older school of the same name. The school will officially close at the end of August but its 14 remaining pupils will leave at the end of June.

Former pupil Clarence Morton recalled many happy memories with his 1940s Tullymacarette classmates Marjorie Cushnie (nee Kelly), Evelyn Wilson (nee McCrum), Sheila Martin (nee McCrum) and Ida Fitzsimmons (nee Alderice) when they met at an ‘Open Night’ at Tullymacarette Primary School on Friday 1st June marking the forthcoming closure of the school this summer.

Former pupil Clarence Morton recalled many happy memories with his 1940s Tullymacarette classmates Marjorie Cushnie (nee Kelly), Evelyn Wilson (nee McCrum), Sheila Martin (nee McCrum) and Ida Fitzsimmons (nee Alderice) when they met at an ‘Open Night’ at Tullymacarette Primary School on Friday 1st June marking the forthcoming closure of the school this summer.

Refreshments were served in one of the classrooms, providing an opportunity for former pupils from as far back as 1939 to renew old friendships and recall happy memories of their early days at the school.

Photographs
On display were many group photographs taken over the years and others showing the school’s many successes. Most of the photos were supplied by the school secretary of 20 years, Isabel McDowell (nee Poots), from a collection which belonged to her aunt, the late Ray Poots, who owned the local grocery store and sweetie shop, which was frequented daily by past pupils.

Meticulous records
Also on display were the old school registers and many of the visitors took great delight in looking through them and seeing the names of their former classmates meticulously recorded. One former pupil who commented on the neatness of the records got this reply “there were no computers in those days!”

Coke-burning furnace
Many former pupils entering the old classrooms of the main school building remarked “the classrooms seemed bigger in my day!” Many also commented on the absence of the old coke-burning furnace in the corner of the headmaster’s classroom and recalled what seemed a long walk to the nearby corrugated iron coke shed (which was still there for all to see) to fill up the coke buckets. Some also recalled that when temperatures dropped below freezing on several occasions during winter that the little bottles of milk with popped silver tops were left beside the furnace to thaw out in preparation for the morning break.
 

Former pupils Linda McNeill (nee Dickson) and Dr Harold Harvey enjoyed discussing their career advancements since leaving Tullymacarette Primary School in the late 1950s. Linda is now a teacher at Beechlawn School, Hillsborough and Harold is a lecturer in Environmental and Occupational Health at the University of Ulster at Jordanstown.

Former pupils Linda McNeill (nee Dickson) and Dr Harold Harvey enjoyed discussing their career advancements since leaving Tullymacarette Primary School in the late 1950s. Linda is now a teacher at Beechlawn School, Hillsborough and Harold is a lecturer in Environmental and Occupational Health at the University of Ulster at Jordanstown.

Playground games
On the subject of computers, it was also noted that with the absence of computer games in those early days, the popular playground games were marbles and hopscotch. One former 1950s pupil recalled that the nail of his thumb was worn right through with the constant challenge of what was known to all as ‘marlies’. 1940s pupil Sam Thompson (now living in Newcastle) demonstrated how he used his thumb knuckle thus avoiding the problem of worn-out thumb nails.
 

Former Tullymacarette pupils (sisters) Elizabeth Spence (nee Lyle) and Lilian Alexander (nee Lyle) are pictured at an open night at Tullymacarette Primary School on Friday night (1st June) marking the forthcoming closure of the school this summer. Kelly family photograph taken at Tullymacarette Primary School in about 1952.  Mary Emily Kelly (nee Harvey) with Vera (now Vera Watson), George and John.
Former Tullymacarette pupils (sisters) Elizabeth Spence (nee Lyle) and Lilian Alexander (nee Lyle) are pictured at an open night at Tullymacarette Primary School on Friday night (1st June) marking the forthcoming closure of the school this summer.

Kelly family photograph taken at Tullymacarette Primary School in about 1952.  Mary Emily Kelly (nee Harvey) with Vera (now Vera Watson), George and John.

 

Last steam train
School secretary Isabel McDowell (who has lived her whole life in the area) recalled the occasion when former headmaster, the late Jack Grier (who came to school in an Austin 7) allowed the children to watch from the safety of the school playground as the last steam train passed by on the old Belfast - Newcastle railway line.

Former Tullymacarette pupil Maureen Bowman (nee McCandless) who attended the school in the 1950s. Former Tullymacarette pupils (cousins and life long friends) Dr Harold Harvey and John Kelly.
Former Tullymacarette pupil Maureen Bowman (nee McCandless) who attended the school in the 1950s. Former Tullymacarette pupils (cousins and life long friends) Dr Harold Harvey and John Kelly.

Dedicated service
Another topic of discussion over the weekend was the dedicated service of Laura Cairns - Principal (1996 to present), Mary Hughes (nee Peake) - Vice Principal (1975 to present), Arthur Gibson - Former Principal (1974 - 1996), Margaret Potts (nee Johnston) - Former Teacher (1956 - 1991), Joan Bloomer - Former Teacher (1984 - 2000) and Isabel McDowell (nee Poots) - School Secretary (1987 - present). While most of the teachers over the years spent most of their teaching careers at the school, it is worth noting the long service of Margaret Potts, who spent her entire teaching career at Tullymacarette.

Catering for the whole community
During its entire existence, Tullymacarette Primary School catered for everyone in the community, irrespective of religion.

First pupils to attend the present school
It was recalled with great interest during the weekend that Stanley Stewart and William Hull, who both still live in the area, were two of the first pupils to attend the present school. Stanley attended both the old and present schools and on Friday evening he shared his experience of Tullymacarette when it opened in 1939. It was also noted with equal interest that William Hull (whose sisters Margaret and Gertrude and brothers Bobby and Eric also attended the school) was the first new pupil to be enrolled in the present school.

Final assembly
The next date for your diary is the final school assembly on Thursday 21st June when parents and all former pupils are welcome to attend. This will be a very emotional historic occasion

Ulster Star
01/06/2007