A GLIMPSE AT DROMORE'S WEEKLY NEWSPAPERS OVER THE YEARS
By Veteran Journalist D. J. Hawthorne
Prior to the year 1900 the Banbridge Chronicle was the
local weekly news medium for Dromore and district. In that
year a barrister-at-law named R. J. Hunter founded the
Dromore Weekly Times. The paper was printed in premises near
the top of Bridge Street, on the right hand side going up
from the bridge, and facing Meeting Street.
In 1916 one of Mr. Hunter's employees named Joseph
Lindsay, from Holm Terrace, founded the Dromore Leader,
which was also printed in Bridge Street in premises later to
become the tearooms of Mr. John Murphy.
After a few years The Leader moved to premises now
occupied by newsagent Mr. Jackie Reid in The Square. It was
there I became apprenticed to the local newspaper trade in
As time went by the Dromore Leader extended its territory
to include such places as far afield as Ballynahinch and
Saintfield, and the word "Dromore" was dropped from the
title and henceforth the paper was known as The Leader.
Around the year 1932 The Leader moved across the Square
to the former Mooney's Bar premises, which were transformed
into a well-stocked stationery and fancy goods shop (run by
Mrs. Lindsay), and at the rear a well-equipped newspaper and
commercial printing workshop.
I got a fair grounding in the rudiments of printing, but
my main interest was reporting, which ranged from attending
the "Petty Sessions" Courts in Dromore, Hillsborough,
Dromara and Ballynahinch - all by bicycle of course - to
covering Council and Community meetings, church and other
functions, etc., etc.
TWO CHERISHED STORIES
Two stories which I did at that time I still very much
cherish. The first was an interview in 1938 with a man who
was a boy at the time of the Famine in Ireland. He was 99
years old James (`Jimmy') Guiney, who was for many years the
sexton of First Dromara Presbyterian Church.
When I called, his nephew, Sam McMillan, who was looking
after him, advised me not to say who I was or he might not
say anything. So I had to depend on memory.
I chatted to Mr. Guiney in what was Pollock's Porter
Lodge below Kinallen. Although on his deathbed, his mind was
"as clear as a bell". He said he was born the year of the
Big Wind (that date was 6 January, 1839).
He recalled hard times and hard work in the countryside,
various events, personalities etc. He also talked about the
`big' church, and said he knew every family's grave in the
churchyard, and he helped the church committees to draw up a
graveyard reference map.
The interview over I came up into the kitchen and made
rough notes of what he had said. Then I got on my bike and
when I got home and both before and after my tea I made more
notes until I was satisfied I had got it all down.
After the article had appeared in the next week's Leader
I called round to see what the old man thought of it. His
nephew told me that his uncle was delighted. "He sat up in
bed", he said, "listening to it being read to him, and he
kept clapping his hands, laughing and saying `That's right,
that's right.' "
"And do you know why he told you so much?" said Sam.
"Sure he thought you were some official checking up on his
My other story concerns the last of the old Downshire
Guard at Hillsborough Castle. This was a miniature army for
which the Downshire family had been granted a right from
about King William's time. I had heard about the Guard from
my mother, who as a girl would frequently visit her
McConnell cousins on the "broad road" between Dromore and
Hillsborough and they would go on a Sunday morning to see
the Downshires travel to the `big' church in their
horse-drawn carriage, and drive between a double row of
guards in Yeomanry uniform.
The only two remaining were John Green and bugler Sam
Atkinson. I had a long chat with Mr. Green, who recalled
important ceremonial occasions and banquets when the guard
would be on duty in full strength. He kindly gave me a
photograph of the whole guard.
Bugler Atkinson's place as bugler has been perpetuated in
the appointment of a succession of family connections, each
turning out in full uniform for special village events or
visits by nobility, etc. The tradition is still carried on
by Mr. Gerald Silcock.
Staff on The Leader then were Mr. Lindsay's brother
William, manager; Willie McCarthy, linotype operator and
chief comp.; Willie Stewart, comp., who set posters (a good
example is in offices of solicitors W. J. Baxter & Co.); and
Andrew Doloughan, a very competent and responsible reporter
who joined in my time, continued after me and went on to
become editor of the Banbridge Chronicle.
During the 1942 - 1944 war years I worked in Mackie's
aircraft factory in Belfast, and it was around that time
that Mr. R. J. Hunter sold the Dromore Weekly Times to a
Belfast publisher named G. G. Gill. The new owner engaged a
Mr. Ed McCartney, ex Lurgan Mail, as editor-manager with a
mandate to modernise the D.W.T. with use of photographs,
etc. They advertised for a reporter and, as the end of the
war was in sight I applied for and got the job.
With some effort we increased the circulation of the
D.W.T. from several hundred copies to a few thousand, but
after two to three years Mr. Gill decided to dispose of it
and take Mr. McCartney to assist in his other ventures.
Typesetter Willie Lyle and I together with kind
consideration on the part of Mr. George Wilson (manager of
the local branch of the Northern Bank), rustled up enough
finance to take it over. Although we did manage to further
increase circulation and job printing, long term prospects
were not great.
BIRTH OF THE MOURNE
There was surely somewhere needed a local paper more than
Dromore needed two. After investigation I decided to try the
Newcastle - Kilkeel regions, and founded the Mourne Observer
in 1949. It started off well and grew quite rapidly. The
D.W.T. was closed in 1952 and the plant and machinery
transferred to Newcastle.
Others who worked on the Dromore Weekly Times in those
years were Ned Flanagan, who went to the Belfast Telegraph
and later to the Hansard staff at Stormont; Sandy Johnston,
whom I succeeded at The Leader and who went on to be
linotype operator in the Belfast Telegraph; reporter Bobbie
Dowie, who graduated to the old Northern Whig, the Belfast
Telegraph and Hansard.
Reporter/Editor in the latter years of The Leader was
Welshman Mr. Vivian Brown, an ex-soldier who married a niece
of Mr. Lindsay.
The Leader is now part of the Morton Group.
INDUSTRY AT THE
By Margaret Johnston
Turnpike Cottage stands at the junction of the Magherabeg
and Hillsborough roads, approximately two miles from
Dromore. These Turnpikes were usually managed by Trustees
and the Tolls charged were used to finance the repair of the
roads, They were abolished by Act of Parliament in 1857.
In more recent times the Turnpike was well known as a
centre for Drawn Thread Work. Some time after World War One,
a Mrs. Ward established a small hemstitching business. When
she died about 1927, her niece, Miss McCallister, carried on
the business up until World War Two.
Mrs. Ward lived in a house on the opposite corner from
the Turnpike. At the side of the house was a general shop
and in the yard at the back there was a corrugated shed,
known as the Workroom. Originally the four sewing machines
were treadle, but later driven by a petrol engine. The floor
of the shed was concrete and it was heated by a round black
paraffin stove. Lighting when required was by lamps. Very
good relations existed between Miss McCallister and the
women who operated the machines. They could go into the
house to make a cup of tea. The hours were from nine to six.
Each week Miss McCallister would go to Belfast by `bus to
a firm called Sommersett for whom she carried out the Drawn
Thread Work. This was linen, mostly used for pillow covers,
and was given out, by the dozen, to local women for
`drawing.' This involved drawing out the threads to form
`shires,' either 1/4" or 1/2" wide. A cardboard mark was
given out with the linen, notched for the size of shire
required. The mark was made from a Wills Woodbine cigarette
box. Depending on what type of corner was required, bias or
cut-out, the threads would be `stopped' or pulled right
The next step was the `spoking' done by the operators on
the machines. After spoking, the linen was given out to
women for sewing to whatever design was required. Some of
those who did this fine work lived locally, but in some
cases they came from Dromore and Hillsborough. Both the
drawing and home sewing had to be done to a specified time.
Sometimes there would be Valances, approximately 36 yards
long. The `shires' on these would be wider, usually 1". At
all stages they were very cumbersome to handle. When
complete the work would be sent back to Belfast.
Some beautiful work was produced and even to-day in some
homes there are samples of the work done all those years
By Rosemary McMillan
Recollections of the way of life in Inn Gardens and Cross
Lane between the two World Wars.
"We called it the tight end", said Martha with a glint in
her eye. The glint, coupled with her friend Mary's chiding
response, "You shouldn't say that!", alerted me to a
possible double entendre, but my suspicion was lulled by
Martha's smiling reply "Well, we were all very tight packed
in". On a subsequent occasion, when the name came up again
in the conversation, Mary did confide that "Some of the men
got tight you know".
Tight end or not, Mary found the Inn Gardens house, in
which she lived for thirty years, a great improvement on one
which she had occupied in Meeting Street when she was first
married. "There was a pump in front of it, but it had no
scullery, no nothin' ". In the tight end, five, all lying
heads to tails in one room and a kitchen was not uncommon.
Cooking was done over an open fire, using an oven pot
with the turf piled on top of it. "You needed a good thick
pot for cakes". Champ was made with a beatle and Martha
observed wryly "It would have knocked your brains out." The
pan was on the crook too, and Martha told me that "sometimes
soot came down the chimney into the fire and you lost the
whole lot and had nothing for a week." The open fires were
very dirty and the chimney had to be cleaned often.
Chuckling, they informed me that the most usual way of doing
this was "to put a paper up and burn it!" In spite of all
this soot and smoke some people kept the back of the fire
whitened. Turf for the fires was delivered once a week, on a
Friday, by a man from the Montiaghs. He sold `fur' for
lighting the fires, as well.
Water for cooking and washing was carried from a pump in
Gallows Street. Locally called the Fountain, Mary said, "It
was outside the front door of Finnegans old house. One
woman, with six children, had to carry water all the way to
the bottom of Inn Gardens." Washing was done in a "big zinc
boiler". Lack of a running water supply didn't stop tables
and chairs being scrubbed until they were white.
Mary told me "They were good houses, Vaughan fixed them,
with good floors, wooden ceilings and lovely concrete
yards." They were condemned because they had no mains water
or proper sewage disposal. Men came round to collect the
contents of the day closets. Mary also recalled that some of
it, mixed with the ashes from the fire, was used as
fertiliser on the gardens. As a girl, she had lived in a
house, the area of which is now occupied by the Telephone
Exchange. She remembers her Father growing potatoes by this
method. "There never was the like of the potatoes - I've
never seen the same since. We grew leeks, scallions,
gooseberries and red currants and we kept fowl."
Such talk made me wonder if the people often became ill
living in such conditions. They told me that "Scarletina and
Diptheria often occurred." Afterwards the houses would have
been fumigated by burning sulphur candles. Tuberculosis was
also "very rife" but Martha tartly remarked "We fared better
than those who were over-coddled!"
The Inn Gardens tenants were given a grant from the Urban
Council of �60 to relocate and as people moved out the
houses were demolished.
The houses in Cross Lane were similar but people bought
them and fixed them up. Mary lived at No. 14 for eleven
years. "It was owned by a man from Lurgan called Green who
was married on one of the McConvilles. He put the mains
water in when he was living in it himself. It had a living
room, a big working kitchen, three bedrooms, the back one
was big, a landing and a wee bathroom. The rent was �2 a
Oil lamps were used for lighting. "Sometimes there was an
auld end on the wick and the lamp smoked and you were nearly
choked. Green got the electric put in. All you paid was a
shilling a week to Mr. Baxter. He collected it every
Saturday and it was marked down in a book."
the chat continued it transpired that Gregg the postman had
lived in the Lane too. He delivered mail by pony and trap as
far out as the Red Hill every morning and evening. "I can
see him yet putting the wee pony in," reflected Mary. Davy
Thompson also brought bread round in a horse and cart, and
there was a daily delivery of milk by pony and trap.
The trap had two churns in it and the milk was measured
out into a tin can or sometimes just a bowl. Martha chipped
in with a story about walking out to Mrs. McCourts' at
Sylvan Hill about seven in the evening for buttermilk "We
had the milk nearly all drunk by the time we got back."
Talking about deliveries Mary said "that there was another
wee man looking to see did you want anything in the line of
clothes, You paid him about sixpence or a shilling a week."
The price of goods was of course very different sixty years
ago. Mary remembers that she could get all her tea, sugar,
butter, bacon and all in Neeson's and "still have two 2
shilling pieces change out of a ten shilling note." Pat
Rooney was able to substantiate this by producing this bill
head from Thomas Keenan's of Banbridge for 1933. He is of
the opinion that the prices would have been similar in
Martha spoke of dances at Magherabeg and
Ballyvicknakelly. "You got in for a cake - the man paid but
if you were a woman a cake would do! Andy Doloughan's
father, John, was M.C. at Ballyvicknakelly. He would say,
"They're looking for the de Alberts whoever he is. It was
a square dance, it was great, it swung you off your feet and
many a one lit on the floor!"
Mary told me of the trips. Days out to Magherabeg and
Skeogh were annual events. There were games and talking to
boys. I was unable to elicit much information about the
games but "There was always a fella coming home with you. I
mind coming home once on the back of a motorbike!"
One custom that Martha recalled was the New Year Wisp.
"At New Years morning you took a wisp round. It was made of
straw tied in the middle with a bit of ribbon. You wished
everybody a happy New Year and you got a bun, or scone or
bread and jam." (Checking the spelling of `wisp' in the
dictionary and expecting to see "of Scots origin", I was
surprised to find the word described as similar to the Norse
`vipper' meaning to wipe - giving it a possible Viking
As our talk came to an end Mary remarked "There was not a
lot of money or style, but there was always an awful crowd
and good value - there's no value now! It was a good time
there was never a dull moment around the Cross Lane"
Problems with post-operative lack of voice had led to
some discussion on the power of the human voice - or lack of
it in this instance. It was remarked that in days gone by
farmers had no need of a telephone they just opened their
mouths and gave a "gulder". An instance was recalled wherein
a local farmer ploughing a field and not liking the job, was
heard at a distance of three fields no less, to shout at his
"Take the fur as broad as a dour and gwan to hell ye
I understand it was an effective command!
Another gentleman, well known for his lung power, but
somewhat incapacitated by weight and rheumatics, was
travelling one evening on the local bus. In those days, to
stop the bus for the purpose of alighting, you had to press
a bell positioned near the luggage rack about the centre of
the bus. Now the gentleman in question had been unable to
get a seat near the bell, so, as the bus approached his stop
he asked a woman sitting nearby to "Bell the bus missus." It
is not known whether the driver did it deliberately or not,
but in any case he went past the requested stop. Whereupon,
to the amusement of the entire bus, the irate gentleman
"Hells blazes, bell her again!"
A SONG IN THEIR
By Sam Johnston
When I was a schoolboy and lived near the top of Meeting
Street Hill in the 1930's, I was fascinated by the face of a
little girl who occasionally walked into Dromore from the
country on Saturday mornings. She was different for she was
Mongolism - or to give it it's modern term, Down's
Syndrome, after Dr. John Langdon Down who first recognised
it for what it was in the 1860's, is caused by an extra
chromosome at the conception of the child. Chromosomes
contain the genes which are the building blocks
in all human beings. Unfortunately, if an extra chromosome
is present in the beginning it takes away from the natural
function of the rest resulting in retarded growth,
especially in the brain cells, and gives the lookalike
features common in all Down's Syndrome children.
As recently as a few decades ago such children were
considered unteachable and left to their own very limited
devices. However, the little girl I referred to earlier, ~
named Ruby Arbuthnot, had a mother, after whom she was
called, who was a school teacher with a limitless capacity
of love and patience. Slowly, very slowly, but surely she
persevered to teach the child simple tasks which in turn
stimulated the brain to even more achievements. The good
news of such improvements soon came to the notice of parents
with similarly retarded children and Mrs. Arbuthnot was only
too glad to demonstrate her methods to them.
In 1967 there was a great "togetherness" of these people
and they formed "The Newcastle Society for Mentally
Handicapped Children and Adults".
They soon purchased a house and appropriately called it
"the Ruby House Holiday Home" and developed it to provide
holidays for groups and families. Before long adjacent
houses were bought and thus developed the capacity for
adults and children with mental handicap.
Lately new premises have been acquired and the on-going
work acknowledged by the Eastern Health and Social Service
Board as over 500 patients per year enjoy holidays and
outdoor pursuits which are supervised by a highly trained
To underline their appreciation of all that has been done
"The Variety Club" has presented them with a bus for their
Though it was over half-a-century ago I still recall the
two Ruby Arbuthnots walking down Meeting Street. They were
walking into Dromore's history where they rightly and
When I pass "Ruby House" in Newcastle and read the plaque
on the wall, I paraphrase verse 10 of Proverbs 31, "Find a
virtuous woman; her name is above Ruby's."
I have always had a great fascination for Down's Syndrome
children; their spontaneous expression of love to those
around them. Their little idiosyncrasies, and their innate
pleasure in all things musical. I once saw a T.V.
documentary of a profoundly Spastic man. He was but a
caricature of a human being, with his twisted limbs that
jerked in spasms. His unfocused eyes. His lop-sided mouth
that dribbled saliva. His lack of coherent speech. He was a
pitiful sight to behold. But wait! They discovered he was
able to manipulate computers and eventually through these
electronic marvels he proved to be a brilliant
mathematician. All he had lacked had been communication. So
with this in mind I listen to my Mongol friends as they sing
and hum their tunes and I wonder what they could achieve had
Perhaps the answer is in my poem.
|We knew him as the Mongol,
The face not old, not young,
The vacant gauche expression,
The half-protruding tongue.
The eyes that swivelled upwards,
In concentrated stare,
The ear half-cocked to heaven,
Tuned to music there.
Though we were not to know it,
The tunes were in his soul,
The Themes and Variations,
Just waiting to unroll.
One day he got the message,
"Your day's on earth are through,
This is your great come uppance,
We've got a job for you".
He started off to heaven,
With knock-kneed shambling gait,
A handshake from Saint Peter,
And he was through the gate.
Immediately he sensed it,
That there was something wrong,
The streets of gold were empty,
There was no angel song!
Then he was ushered inside,
A vast Celestial Hall,
With tiers and tiers of angels,
With instruments and all.
Before a golden dais,
The King of Heaven stood,
And beckoned to the Mongol,
With little rod of wood.
He trembling went forward,
More fearful as he went,
His eyes upon the baton,
The rod of chastisement?
But no! The Good Lord met him,
And took him by the hand,
And placed him on the rostrum,
And gave to him the wand.
And said, "The Mongol Maestro,
Will now conduct the score,
Composed throughout his lifetime,
When he lived in Dromore".
On the site of the first development by Ruby House for
people with mental handicaps, a new residential home has
been established. It is located on the Bryansford Road in
Newcastle and is convenient to Donard Park, shops, leisure
centre and places of worship.
It opened in March 1992 as a Residential Home for sixteen
residents for permanent stay. A bedroom is also available
for friends or relatives to stay overnight on an occasional
basis. The home has been specifically set up to cater for
people over sixteen years of age who have recognised
learning difficulties and who are in need of residential
care. The residents are of a mixed ability. Each resident
has an individual programme of care implemented by their key
worker and all residents attend day care in either ITO, ATC
or College. The provision of this semi-dependent living has
a number of aims and they all relate to the enrichment and
fulfilment of the lives of the residents. They are
encouraged through the medium of a caring and safe
environment, to socialise and integrate with other residents
and the local community, and to exercise their right to the
freedom of choice and opportunity.
The encouragement to make achievements in these
directions is provided by dedicated professional staff along
with all the facilities at their immediate disposal. There
are 15 staff at the home, all of whom are qualified or are
equipped with a minimum level of experience in working with
persons with learning difficulties.
The accommodation for
residents is most spacious and includes the
� 3 Lounges;
� 5 Double Bedrooms; � 7 Single
� Large Recreation/Dining Room;
� 5 Bath/Shower Rooms and Toilets;
� Small separate kitchen for the use of
the residents to make snacks
As Ruby House (Nl) Ltd. is a
Limited Company with Charitable status we are
also heavily committed to Fund Raising to
provide extra luxuries and holidays for our
For further information on
Residential Home, please contact:
Mrs. Maggie Gilmore,
Mary Murray House,
Lawnfield Court, Donard Park,
Newcastle, Co. Down BT33 0RI.
Tel: 03967 - 26517 Fax: 03967 - 26310
School closed its doors
by Andrew Doloughan
The closure in January of this year of the Cowan Heron
Hospital, which was erected in 1898 by Mr. William Cowan
Heron, D.L., J.P., of "Altafort," Skeogh, for the people of
Dromore and district, leads one to reflect that it was some
25 years ago that Ballyvicknakelly National School, of which
Mr. Heron was also patron and proprietor, closed its doors
as a seat of learning.
Originally built by public subscription, records give the
date of opening as 7th October, 1850. The school was later
rebuilt and enlarged in 1885 and further enlarged in 1906 by
Mr. Heron at his own expense. Not only did this good
landlord provide the schoolhouse, he also saw to it that a
commodious teacher's residence was erected on the spot and
its purpose proclaimed in shining letters on a slate tablet
above the front door.
The name William Cowan Heron was obviously a household
one in and around Dromore in the days when the school and
residence were erected by him. As one travels nearer Dromore
from the school it will be seen that the Orange Hall at
Ballyvicknakelly "was erected on this site, granted by
William Cowan Heron."
The old town clock in the tower of the Town Hall,
Dromore, was also the gift of Mr. Heron to the inhabitants,
and this further act of beneficence is recorded on a marble
mural above the old stocks.
But to return to our original subject - the old school at
Ballyvicknakelly - the names of some of the teachers come
readily to mind.
The first principal of whom there is record was Mr. Hugh
Sinton Fayle. He was appointed on 1st February, 1879, and
remained for the long period of 45 years until the end of
December, 1924. Indelibly impressed on the mind's eye of
pupils of those days is that bearded face with the clear
rimmed glasses no horn rims then! Well could they say with
A man severe he was, and stern to view, I knew him well
and every truant knew; Well had the boding tremblers learned
The day's disasters in his morning face. Yet he was kind,
or if severe in aught, The love he bore to learning was in
He has long since been laid to rest in the God's Acre at
First Dromore Presbyterian Church, beside the mortal remains
of his beloved wife, Agnes Lyons Fayle, and those of their
son, Cowan Heron Fayle. The Master's memory still remains
green for those who received from him their early tuition -
indeed, perhaps, for many the "learning" that was to fit
them for the whole of their lives.
In these days when good handwriting would appear to be a
lost art it is worthy of note that those who came under Mr.
Fayle's tuition in imitating Vere Foster's headline copybook
were immediately recognised as pupils of Ballyvicknakelly
But we must not forget his good wife, the former Miss
Campbell, from "Campbell's Hill", Aughandunvarran, between
Dromore and Hillsborough, who was greatly beloved, not only
as a teacher, but also as the kindly lady of the residence,
sharing the joys and sorrows of the neighbourhood.
MISS EDITH J. C. FAYLE
Perhaps remembered even better, and rightly so, is their
daughter, Miss Edith J. C. Fayle, who passed away at her
home, "Dunvarran", Belfast Road, Holywood, on Christmas Day,
1975. What memories her name conjures up for those who
passed through the mistress's room. Her radiant smile and
her kindly good nature to the boys and girls under her care
endeared her to their hearts and memories, so much so that
after all the years she is still spoken of with affection
and gratitude. Her tenure of office at the school extended
over a period of 20 years to 31st August, 1925.
No reference to Miss Fayle would be complete without
tribute to her great love of animals and all dumb creatures.
Pictures round the classroom emphasised the lesson that "He
who made thee made the brute; Who gave thee speech and
reasons formed him mute."
Such a kindly heart found it impossible even to think of
"four and twenty blackbirds baked in a pie," and so Miss
Fayle had her own version of this old ditty, which ran like
Sing a song of sixpence,
A pocket full of rye.
Four and twenty blackbirds
Want a piece of pie.
When the pie was opened
The birds began to sing.
Wasn't that a dainty dish
To set before the King.
The day always began with a prayer and hymn for which
Miss Fayle provided welcome accompaniment on the old
harmonium in the Master's room.
BROUGHT OWN TURF CLOD
Grand-daughters of the late Mr. Wm. Crookshanks, "The
Hollow", and some relatives of the late Mr. Adam Black
recall hearing them speak of a Master McFadyen before Mr.
Fayle. In those days the scholars brought their own turf to
help heat the old schoolroom-and woe betide the fellow who
brought a wet "clod." It would be interesting to know from
what bog the turf clods came. But how the scene has changed
since then. The Master's fresh little pony and shining trap
would be a novel sight in these days of motorised transport.
But many familiar landmarks have not been erased from the
roadside by the passage of time. The "Barley Park," a hill
on the town side of the school is still as steep as ever -
at least on one side. And beyond it Tom Beck's house (though
no longer thatched) and Watson's Grove, but not the face of
one of the old inhabitants.
Many a venturesome schoolboy crawled up the pipe (in a
dry spell) underneath the road at the little stone bridge at
the mouth of the roadway leading to "Fortwilliam" and
Drumiller House, and (if one wanted to go that way) over the
footbridge to "Kiln Knowe" (the home of the Chambers family)
and Lurganbane. But back we must come to Ballyvicknakelly
and "The Hollow" - and what memories that name conjures up
The bridge was a convenient place for a bill poster (who
was a familiar figure with his large tricycle, with bucket
of paste to the rear) to display the land lettings and
auctions of the firms of Robert J. Poots & Co. and George
Preston & Son. And the occasional announcement that a circus
was coming to the Moss Lane or Pantridge's Meadow was always
Back to the school, and a new era was begun with the
coming on a warm June day in 1925 of Master Leonard L.
Connor and his charming wife, who assisted him for a time
until the arrival of Miss Georgina Clarke, Ballynaris,
Dromore, who in 1969 retired from the staff of the Central
On the occasion of her leaving Ballyvicknakelly in May,
1951, after almost 26 years, Miss Clarke was the recipient
of handsome tokens of appreciation and good wishes for the
excellent services she had rendered.
Amongst the late Mr. Connor's outstanding gifts as a
teacher were a profound love of music (which called for the
aid of a tuning fork) and a keen desire to see his pupils
read the best possible literature, the works of William
Shakespeare and Dickens and Oliver Goldsmith being amongst
Mr. Connor moved to Drumbeg on 9th August 1931, and was
succeeded as principal by Mr. Richard Beattie, H.Dip.Ed., of
Church Street, Dromore, who subsequently became principal of
Drumlough Primary School, where his wife, the former Miss
Nancy Grier, who came of a teaching family, assisted him.
Regrettably, some years after their retirement she passed
Mr. Beattie introduced much that was new in teaching
methods, and those who were fortunate to have him as their
tutor can look back on school days with gratitude. Of
successful pupils in the school leaving certificate the
writer can vouch. Mr. Beattie remained at Ballyvicknakelly
until October, 1937.
From 1st November of the same year until 31st December
the post of principal was held by a Mr. George Power, who
came from Donacloney, and then on the third day of the New
Year came Mr. Joseph H. McComb, whose forebears were no
strangers to the district, his mother being Miss Minnie
McClune, of Moore Hill, Lurganbane.
For some 21 years until July, 1959, Mr. and Mrs. McComb
occupied the residence, the master upholding the best
traditions of his predecessors as principal.
TEACHER FROM MANSE
During his term there were six temporary assistants after
Miss Clarke. One of these, Mrs. Ethel Moore, wife of the
Rev. Hugh R. Moore, M.A., now senior minister of Banbridge
Road Presbyterian Church, Dromore, took up duty on 16th
November, 1953, and on the resignation of Mr. McComb (who
moved to Blaris) she became principal - a post which she
held until the closure of the school.
It was around the time of Mrs. Moore's appointment as
principal that the introduction of Intermediate Schools came
into being, and with pupils being swept off from the primary
at the age of 11 the school became a one teacher.
I am indebted to Mrs. Moore for some statistics relating
to the dates of appointment of the various teachers at
Mrs. Moore was subsequently appointed a peripatetic
teacher of remedial reading in the Dromore, Banbridge and
Gilford areas. At the time this was something new in
education in Co. Down.
AWARDED IN 1885
In closing this record of Ballyvicknakelly School and its
teachers, I take pleasure in reproducing the wording on a
certificate awarded to a pupil away back in 1885. That same
pupil subsequently became a prominent businessman in Church
Street, Dromore, and was chairman for a time of the old
Urban Council. His daughters, the Misses Peggy and Ethna
Thompson, are members of the Historical Group.
The wording on the certificate reads:- "National
Education Ireland. This is to certify that at the Annual
Examination held in Ballyvicknakelly National School by J.
Brown, Esq., A.M., Inspector of National Schools for the
promotion of pupils, William T. B. Thompson has been
promoted to the Second Class having passed satisfactorily in
the following subjects - Reading, Writing, Arithmetic and
Spelling. 24th day of December, 1885. H. S. Fayle, Teacher."
Churchyard, at the Grave of Helen Waddell
By Roy Gamble
|On this high hill
you are another sphere away
From the shrill of terror. The crump of bombs,
The crack of indiscriminate guns
Cannot harm you, (God knows you had your share
Of those in the Hitler war).
Now you lie at peace, well away from the madness
That has a lease-hold on our land; for history
Repeats itself and the tribes have clanned once
In ancient enmity, and hatred stalks the
But in this quiet place, you are at peace.
Up here there is no trace of bomb or bullet,
Or any sign of terror's dread alarm;
The only sound, a tractor's muted throbbing,
Echoes from some Magherally farm.
And nothing moves except the wind-stirred trees
That guard your grave. And over there, across
Winter-stunted grass, the old marred church
Redundant now, but still inviolate:
Strong symbol of the faith that succoured you
When fate had broke your health, and crushed
Your wealth of scholarship. But the love of
Was deep in you, and all the words you wrote
Will still survive: discerning, clear, and
And soft eternal light will shine upon your head
When each earth-bound honour is too faded to be
In the lichened letters of your epitaph.
HUGH FRAZER (fl
Landscape and Portrait Painter
by Gilbert Watson
Hugh Frazer the artist was born in Dromore, Co. Down the son of Hugh
Frazer and Agnes Dickson. His mother was the daughter of Joseph Dickson
and Jane Colvill a daughter of Rev. Alexander Colvill MD of Dromore.
Frazer, who was the first Ulster landscape painter of note, was
admitted as a pupil in the drawing school of the Dublin Society in 1812
and exhibited a sketch with the Society of Artists in Hawkins Street in
the following year. He began to exhibit in the Royal Hibernian Academy,
Dublin in 1826 and contributed regularly down to 1861. During this period
he resided at Dromore, Belfast or Dublin.
He was elected an Associate of the Royal Hibernian Academy in May 1830
and became a Member in May 1837.
He lived in Belfast in 1834 and painted a "View of Belfast, taken from
the Curator's house in the Botanic Gardens" which was exhibited in the
Commercial Newsroom, Waring Street and was subsequently advertised by the
artist to be disposed of by ballot.
Frazer wrote an "Essay on Painting" in 1825 which was printed by
Alexander Mackay, junior and published by M Jellett, Belfast and by James
Burnside, Capel Street, Dublin.
His endeavours, in conjunction with Belfast resident artists Nicholas J
Crowley, Joseph Molloy, Samuel Hawksett, Robert Warrington, J W Millar, F
La Moile and the brothers William and Andrew Nicholl, were instrumental in
the formation of the Belfast Association of Artists. The Association held
the inaugural exhibition in 1836 in the great room of the Museum, College
Square North, by permission of the Natural History Society.
Hugh Frazer had been unanimously elected President and wrote the
preface to the catalogue in which the views and objectives of the
Association were presented in an `Address to the Public.'
`In any general address to an enlightened public of
the present day, it would be quite uncalled for to advance any
propositions, or arguments, as to the importance of the cultivation of
Art to the community, both in its extensive moral influence as an
universal language, expressive of poetic sentiment and emotion, and,
as a medium of objective knowledge; and, also, in its merely
ornamentive branches, furnishing to social life some of its most
attractive elegancies and refinements; in short, as constituting the
leading external attribute of high civilization.'
`The backward state of the Arts in Ireland, and
more particularly in the North, compared with other parts of the
empire, has been remarked, with regret, by those who take
comprehensive views of their capabilities, when cultivated with an
enlightened spirit, in refining public taste, and in adding beauty and
harmony to the ornamental branches of manufactures.'
`Taking into consideration the limited demand for
productions in the higher departments of Art, and the humble position
they hold in artistical attainment, when compared with other
incorporated Societies of British Artists, the Belfast Association
submit their first Exhibition of Modern Art to the Northern public, in
the hope that their exertions will meet that approbation and support,
which will enable them to furnish an annual display, at least equal to
the present one.'
`They trust they will not be thought presuming too
much on their own position, in appealing to a liberal and enlightened
public, for their co-operation in raising a fund, by subscription, for
the purpose of erecting an appropriate building for an Institution of
Fine Arts in the Northern metropolis, to which object the surplus
proceeds of the present Exhibition are to be devoted.'
`The present Exhibition must be considered as an
experiment, in regard to the measure of support and encouragement
which the public may concede to this mode of advancing native Art,
also, how far the resident Artists would be enabled to sustain an
J. Millar, an Architect and one of the exhibitors, displayed an
interior view of the `Public Entrance Hall and Statue vestibule leading to
the Staircase of Antique Sculpture' which was one of a series of drawings
for the Proposed Ulster Gallery of Fine Art. Despite the enthusiasm the
enterprise failed after three annual exhibitions.
The first exhibition catalogue included 217 items with Frazer
contributing twenty-five paintings comprising Irish, English and Welsh
landscapes as well as continental views in the Apennines and the
Mediterranean coast of Spain. Specific Irish landscape views were entitled
Lough Derg, Old Corn Mill Co. Wicklow, Stevenson's Mills, Springfield,
Bryansford River, Old Flax Mill, Co. Down and Moonlight, Dublin Bay. He
also exhibited a portrait of Hamilton Rowan taken in his 80th year.
At the 1838 exhibition, Frazer who was then Professor of Painting to
the Royal Hibernian Academy, a position he held until 1853, remained as
President and contributed eight paintings. In addition to landscapes and a
family group he has `The faction fight, on the evenings of the fair' which
was accompanied by the following note in the catalogue.
`The Irish Faction fight, which is now, happily for
the advance of the morals and civilization of the country, a matter of
history, presented a curious study of human nature, excitement, and
animal spirits; and, however violent and extraordinary its form of
demonstration, the social feeling seemed the leading impulse of the
Irishman, in the faction fight: a hearty exchange of hard knocks of
the shillelagh, seemed rather a demonstration of friendly, than angry
or revengeful, feeling towards his neighbour, The leading incidents of
the picture, which is intended to illustrate a trait of national
character, all came under the painter's personal observation.'
The artist's address is given as Dromore in 1836 and Kennedy's Place,
Shankill Road Belfast in 1838.
The works which survive are almost exclusively landscapes and Frazer is
best known for his views of Belfast and County Down. The views of Belfast
and the Lagan Valley are valuable topographical records but the standard
of work varies greatly. His work is represented in the collection of The
Belfast Harbour Commissioners and the Ulster Museum. A view of Waringstown
in the museum's Local History Department is his best work with fine
brushwork and detail.
After 1861 the life of Hugh Frazer remains a mystery as Strickland
records his resignation from membership of the Royal Hibernian Academy in
that year "owing to future absence from Dublin and perhaps from Ireland"
and his name does not appear again as an exhibitor, nor is there any
further account of him.
|Paintings, Sculptures and Bronzes in the Collection of The Belfast
Harbour Commissioners, Catalogue by Eileen Black, 1983.
|A Catalogue of the Permanent Collection: 3 Irish Oil Paintings
1572-c1830, Eileen Black Ulster Museum 1991.
|Art in Ulster: 1 By John Hewitt, 1977.
|A Dictionary of Irish Artists, Two Volumes, Dublin, 1913, Walter G.
|Exhibition of the Belfast Association of Artist Catalogues 1836, 1838.
|Landscapes of Belfast, Exhibition Notes, Ulster Museum 1977.
|The Royal Ulster Academy of Arts - A Centennial History by Martyn
|Dickson Family Notes by J M Dickson, PRO T1765/1-9
The paintings are illustrated by kind permission of The Belfast Harbour
Commissioners and represent Nos. 10,11,14 and 15 from the collection
The paintings are illustrated by kind permission of The
Belfast Harbour Commissioners and represent Nos. 10,11,14
and 15 from the collection catalogue.