A tale of Two Centuries

A History of Drumbo Primary School
Co. Down

Dr. Christopher I. Reid




. This book, "A Tale of Two Centuries"
costs �4-50 collected
(or �5-00 inc post and packaging)
and can be purchased  from:
The school on (028) 90 826498 or mwhite@drumbops.lisburn.ni.sch.uk
(or see contact details for the school on the Web site).


1. In summer and in winter,
In sunshine, rain or snow,
I walked the road from Leverogue
To school in fair Drumbo.
Just a Master and a Teacher
With several classes each.
To read, to write and work out sums,
Endeavoured us to teach.
4. When the air raids came to Belfast
The classes rose in numbers
As children came to Drumbo
To escape from German bombers.
Many, many things we learned,
In those happy bygone days.
Things we never would forget
As we went our separate ways.
2.  I remember Mr. Morrison.
Headmaster of repute,
Miss Maxwell was the Mistress,
Precise and quite astute.
She took the girls for needlework,
To teach us how to knit,
It took so long to knit my socks,
I'm afraid they didn't fit!
5. Poetry learned long ago
I can remember still.
Songs and music from the past
I can recall at will.
From time to time I go back home
To Drumbo on the hill,
My schooldays now so far away,
But very near me still.
3. Although everything was basic,
Not up-to-date like now,
The things we learned, we learned them well,
And life was good somehow.
There was no central heating,
No low-flush inside `loo',
Pot-bellied stove supplied the heat
The long, cold winters through.
6. In memory I'm setting out
Down Ballycairn Hill,
Past Sam Hanna's farmyard,
Walking with a will.
To Drumbo Schoolhouse, past the Church
I enter in once more,
With friends and pals from long ago,
 And gently close the door.

Aline Hanna (Matthews) 1987
(Pupil in Drumbo 1940-1944)



It gives me great pleasure to provide a brief foreword to what you, the reader, will discover, is an interesting and thoroughly researched account of the historical origins of Drumbo Primary School. Dr. Chris Reid, its author, has cast his research net widely and this particular example of the history of an individual school, which has had such a close connection with Drumbo as a community over the years, is firmly rooted in primary sources, notably the relevant source materials from the period of the `national schools' now held by the Public Record Office (Northern Ireland). Some of these documents are in fact reproduced to good effect. The book is also rich in evocative photographs of the teachers and pupils of yesteryear, thereby providing a valuable historical record of the Drumbo area, not to mention interesting evidence of the changes in clothing and fashion styles of both adults and children during the past century.

These faces, from a past now lost and gone forever, stare out at us, the readers, across the years, provoking the obvious question - whatever became of them all'? Were their lives happy and fulfilled or otherwise'? Some of the teachers look proud of their profession, as well they might be, in a part of the world where education has rightly been valued. I was naturally intrigued to discover a `Herbert McMinn' (no relation to my knowledge) amongst the members of the class of 1918! I also wondered whether the girls' cookery class of 1919 had the makings of some good Ulster soda bread in their mixing bowls.

The recent letter from President Bill Clinton to the pupils and the reference to the establishment of the school's own Internet web site bring us right up to the present and I was pleased to see the school's commitment to Education for Mutual Understanding, through its involvement in the cross-community contact scheme with Saint Patrick's Primary School, Castlewellan, given due recognition. The appointment of Mrs. Ruth Daly, as the first female Principal in 1997 is also an interesting example of how the role of women in the management of primary education has developed positively in recent years. Things have come a long way from the days of `The Master' and Me situation described by one national school pupil at the beginning-of the century: 'The master put fear into every scholar ... for he used his cane.'

I would want to wish both Drumbo Primary School and this book well. It is a fitting celebration of over two hundred years of educational endeavour in the Drumbo district. Drumbo is no longer `out in the sticks', and the postal address of its school does not accurately reflect its forward-looking approach to education.

Professor Richard McMinn Principal
Stranmillis University College, Belfast
November 1999




The Presbyterian Church in Ireland, not unlike her parent church in Scotland has, from its earliest beginnings, stressed the importance of education and of presenting "the divine image of education encircled by her three children, Knowledge, Power and Virtue."

Interest in education was, to a large extent, the result of the religious characteristics of the Presbyterians. The Reformation opened the Bible and invited the people to read it for themselves. Consequently, the Bible was introduced into the family and with it other books, such as the Longer and Shorter Catechisms, to complement it. Thus it was felt that children must, at least, be taught to read these. This was the primary reason for the establishment of schools, which parents themselves for many years, a to maintain It has always been a Presbyterian principle that the responsibility for education is primarily the concern of parents and, the development of this principle has led as we shall see, to much controversy between Church and State.

The narrative that follows has been written in the hope that those who attended Drumbo National School, latterly to become Drumbo Primary School, might realise in a deeper way how much they owe to the opportunities afforded them in this unassuming rural school, in the heart of Co. Down.

History has been defined as "a past of more than common interest". It is hoped that this edition of the history of education in Drumbo will prove such to all who may read it, and that it will fall into the hands of all lovers of Drumbo at home and abroad.
Co. Down
  Christopher I. Reid
 December, 1999