Dromore and District Local Historical Group Journal

Volume 4




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 December 1929.

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 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 pension!"


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.


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.


By Margaret Johnston

SARAH JANE WARD (Nee McCALISTER) -(G.M.)The 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 through.

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 ago.


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 week."

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."

As 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 Dromore.

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 link.)

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"

Mary, Martha and me. Photograph by Michael - who thinks "it's not bad considering the subiect matter!"


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 horses,

"Take the fur as broad as a dour and gwan to hell ye hoors yez!"

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 bellowed,

"Hells blazes, bell her again!"


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 a Mongol!

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 professional staff.

To underline their appreciation of all that has been done "The Variety Club" has presented them with a bus for their outings.

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 deservedly belong.

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 they communication.

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".

Ruby House

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 following:

� 3 Lounges;
� 5 Double Bedrooms; � 7 Single Bedrooms;
� 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 residents.

For further information on Ruby House
Residential Home, please contact:
Mrs. Maggie Gilmore,
General Manager,
Mary Murray House,
Lawnfield Court, Donard Park,
Newcastle, Co. Down BT33 0RI.
Tel: 03967 - 26517 Fax: 03967 - 26310

When Ballyvicknakelly 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 Goldsmith:

A man severe he was, and stern to view, I knew him well and every truant knew; Well had the boding tremblers learned to trace

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 fault.

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 School.

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.


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 this:

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.


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 closely scrutinised.

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 School, Dromore.

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 those introduced.


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 away.

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.


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 Ballyvicknakelly.

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.


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."


In Magherally 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 more
In ancient enmity, and hatred stalks the streets.

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 the
Winter-stunted grass, the old marred church
Stands sentinel,

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 learning
Was deep in you, and all the words you wrote
Will still survive: discerning, clear, and vitally alive.
And soft eternal light will shine upon your head
When each earth-bound honour is too faded to be read
In the lichened letters of your epitaph.

HUGH FRAZER (fl 1813-1861)
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.

View of Belfast 1820

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 Annual Exhibition.'

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. Strickland.
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 Anglesea, 1981.
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 catalogue.

The paintings are illustrated by kind permission of The Belfast Harbour Commissioners and represent Nos. 10,11,14 and 15 from the collection catalogue.

Connsbrook House, Belfast