FOREWORD The compilation of this history of Kirkistown Primary School, the “Sand” School, as it is known locally, and the district centred around Kirkistown Castle came about as the result of a school project undertaken in the Autumn of 1987 and Spring 1988 terms. The topic, “The History of Schools in Our Area”, was organised by the Churches Central Council for Community Work in association with the Belfast Telegraph. The children of Kirkistown joined with those of St. Patrick’s Ballygalget for their joint entry which gained first place in its category at the final in Queen’s University, Belfast on 21st March, 1988. In the course of the research it was discovered that the present school building was opened on 1st October, 1888. The Principal and Staff decided to celebrate the Centenary with an exhibition and book recording the life and times of the school during the past one hundred years. We are fortunate in having a former pupil, Mrs. Amy Anderson, nee Finnegan, who is a keen local historian. Her knowledge of the area and her enthusiasm for this study has encouraged the Principal to enlist her help in compiling the history. It is our hope that those who read this history will be reminded of their time within the walls of this little country school which looks across the sand and over the Irish Sea to the Isle of Man. E.J.C.Lyttle August, 1988.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS We wish to record our thanks to the following for invaluable assistance: The custodians of: South Eastern Education and Library Board, Library Head quarters, Ballynahinch; The Public Record Office for Northern Ireland; Ulster Folk and Transport Museum; Ordnance Survey; Royal National Lifeboat Institution; Bangor Branch Library. Bangor artist Anne Anderson who designed the front cover. Former Cloughey Lifeboatmen and their families. Mrs. Margaret J. Currie. Former teachers, past and present pupils, parents and friends of the school, too numerous to mention, who have provided material and information over a period of years. We trust that they will accept this as an acknowledgement of their invaluable help and co-operation. We would particularly like to express our sincere gratitude to our generous sponsors without whose invaluable financial assistance this book would not have been published SPONSORS NORTHERN BANK LTD., Portaferry ULSTER BANK LTD., Kircubbin Mr. & Mrs. GILMORE, (Gilmore Fuels) W. J. WATSON & SON, Portaferry Mr. & Mrs. GOWAN THOMAS ORR LTD., Estate Agents, Newtownards RUSSELL BROTHERS, Estate Agents, Newtownards

CHAPTER ONE A GENERAL HISTORY OF CLOUGHEY AND KIRKISTOWN The town lands of Kirkistown and Cloughey in the Ards Peninsula have as their Eastern boundary the sweep of Cloughey Bay from Slanes Point in the South to Ringboy Point in the North, part of the march between the two being the burn which spills into the sea below the School Corner. This burn flows from a section of the marshes which lay to the centre of the peninsula. Enterprising landlords drained the marshes and proceeded to introduce Scottish settlers whose descendants still speak in the dialect of their ancestors. In the early years of World War II a section of the former Kirkistown bog was acquired by the Government on which to build an airfield as an auxiliary to Ballyhalbert Aerodrome. Some of the former runways now form Kirkistown Motor Racing Circuit. Between the marshes and the sea lay the sand-dunes of a raised beach which was formed as the sea-level rose, fell and rose again after the last Ice Age. When the sea first rose it formed cliffs in the drumlin hills which typify the Ards and which are also a product of the Ice Age. These cliffs can now be seen as the steep banks which follow the coast-line behind the houses in Cloughey. It would have been on this raised beach that the first settlers in the area would have made their camps, living off the Bay’s abundant shellfish. These early people would have entered the area by the ridge of slightly higher ground which runs through Ratallagh as they would not have been able to cross the treacherous marshes. Little evidence of these very early settlers exists but in the town land of Kirkistown there is evidence of the very much more recent settlement of the Anglo-Normans. When Sir John de Courcy conquered the Counties of Down and Antrim in 1170 AD he parcelled out the territory he had acquired among his followers. The Ards was given to William le Sauvage, better known as William Savage, who built a motte and bailey castle on the summit of the hill at Ardkeen which is still known as Castle Hill. William, or one of his followers, built a similar castle on the present golf course. There an earth mound, known locally as the moat was raised making use of an existing bank. On top of this a wooden castle would have been erected. Nearby a round enclosure known as a bailey was constructed to house retainers and animals. In 1622 during the unsettled period following the Plantation of Ulster, the Savages built another castle in the town land of Kirkistown. The present village of Cloughey is a ribbon development following the main road which runs roughly parallel with the shore-line for almost the entire length of Cloughey Bay. There is also some development on the Quarter and Kircubbin Roads and a modern housing estate off Calhame Lane. Almost all of this is of recent origin, many of the bungalows having been built in the period between the two World Wars when Government subsidies were available for houses of a given size and house property represented sound investment. It was then that a number of people, some local, some from Portaferry but mostly “strangers” as they would be termed locally, saw the opportunity in building seaside bungalows at Cloughey for renting to summer visitors. The golf course at Kirkistown opened in 1902 was sure to attract the right type of tenant. Amongst those who built bungalows at that time was Jim Caughey who owned a garage in High Street, Portaferry. He built the four bungalows known as Buena Vista. Next to these are Carrickbeg built by the late Mrs. Victor Wilson whose husband ran a

hardware business in the Square, Portaferry, and Iona built by her sister, the late Miss Elizabeth Palmer. The terrace of bungalows at Kirkistown known as Brackendale has always been known as Scott’s bungalows because they were built by Rev. Scott, Rector of Ardkeen, 1931-1933. These bungalows were built on the site of the old “Sand School” at Kirkistown.

Cloughey Co. Down

Cloughey originally consisted of several groups of houses, many of which can still be seen. One group was the town land cluster on the Manse Road, almost on the march with Slanes. Another was the row of fishermen’s cottages facing the sea on the Main Road while a third group could be seen at Calhame. Near the town land cluster stood a watermill, long since gone, which was powered by the lade which flows from Ballyfindragh Lough to the sea. The low-lying sandy fields behind are still called the Dams thus signifying their use as the mill dam in the past. There are no rivers of any significance in the Ards, the distance from their source to the sea being so short that they tend to dry up during periods of drought, Therefore Cloughey windmill on the Mill Lane was built as an auxiliary to the watermill. This mill appears on Williamson’s map of 1810. The remains of the windmill can still be seen in Mill Lane beside the cottages which once housed the mill workers. Before the end of last century, it was converted to steam power. Unfortunately the grain stores and kiln caught fire on 8th October, 1925 and the mill fell into disuse. Old people can recall visiting the mill as children for a handful of groats - hulled and crushed grain - to sustain them on their way home from school. The farms in the area were mixed, producing oats and wheat for grinding at the mill. and an abundance of potatoes which were shipped to Belfast and Liverpool. The dry, mild climate suits the growing of barley and this is still a major crop. Surplus produce from the farms used to be sold at Portaferry market. The sea has always exerted a strong influence on the people of Cloughey. Storms have frequently brought the tragedy of shipwrecks for the North and South Rocks, Ringboy Point, the Ridge and countless other rocks and pladdies render the coast hereabouts extremely dangerous. Nevertheless, the storms have also yielded a bounty. A gale will often wash ashore great quantities of seaweed, their holdfasts ripped from the rocks. This was once a rich source of fertiliser for those local farmers who were fortunate enough to hold the right to take it from the beach. Such rights were jealously guarded. For several days after a storm the roads would be thronged with carts carrying away the huge slimy brown fronds of laminaria and kelp to be strewn on the fields. A sadder

bounty was the salvage derived from wrecks. Rock Savage House, which until the 1830’s stood on the bank of the long-since drained Ballygalget Lough, was reputed to have been resplendent in mahogany panelling salvaged from timber ships that had come to grief and most of the old farm buildings in the Upper Ards were constructed using ships’ timbers. It is not surprising that many of Cloughey’s sons have turned to the sea to make a livelihood. Many have become fishermen, many have also become merchant seamen, serving on cross-channel shipping, coasters and deep-sea vessels which have taken them all over the world. Some served their country with the Royal Navy during the two World Wars. Others, while having a deep love of the sea, preferred to stay at home. It was from amongst these that the Cloughey Lifeboat drew her crews from the time the first vessel came on station in 1885 until the station closed in 1965. Around 1886 Cloughey had nine fishing luggers and thirty row boat fisher men while local men J. Drysdale,J. McCausland, A. McMullan, T. McMullan, H. R. Millar (the corn miller) and David Young owned ships. Despite the fact that Cloughey has never had a pier like the other villages on the Ards coast it was regarded as a natural harbour and a certain amount of trade by sea was carried on at a time when roads were poor and the projected railway for the Ards did not materialise. So it remained easier to bring in goods by sea from Belfast, Glasgow and Liverpool. The ships used were generally two maste schooners which could sail into Cloughey Bay at full tide and anchor. Th retreating tide would leave them beached. Horses and carts would then cross the sands and discharge the cargo while the tide was out vessel could then sail away again on the next high tide. Cloughey’s coal supply was shipped direct fror Scotland in this way while potatoes and paving stones were exported in a similar manner. Not all trade may have been legal. The Coastguard Station, one o several dotted around the coast of the Upper Ards, is surely an indication that th people of the area indulged in a little smuggling from time to time!

Coronation ce1ebration 3rd June 1953. Taking part in the Fancy Dress Parade are Averil Palmer Ronnie Mu/ar, isa Drysdale Agnes Gibson, Mary Devaney and Joe Clint. The spectators include M Tom McDonnell Mr. Billy Adai, Mrs. W. Gowan, Mrs 7’. Kelly, Mary Baiie and Junior Adair. The growth of the coastal strip of the town lands of Cloughey and Kirkistown into a village community has been fairly recent. The more important aspects the history of that community will be discussed in greater depth in future chapters. CHAPTER TWO : KIRKISTOWN CASTLE The early 17th century saw the Plantation of Ulster and brought about a period of unrest in which open rebellion could be expected at any time. Roland Savage of Ballygalget, a younger son of the Savages of Ardkeen, true to Savage tradition that “better castles of stones than that castles of bones should be broken” set about erecting two castles, one at Ballygalget and one at Kirkistown. The later one of the two, Kirkistown, was built in 1622. These castles were not castles in the accepted sense but were defended tower houses common in Ireland at the time. They resembled the gatehouse of a Norman castle and were surrounded by a bawn enclosed by a curtain wall with flanker towers on each corner. There is a tradition that a warning beacon on top of Kirkistown Castle could be seen from Ballygalget Castle where another warning beacon could warn the inhabitants of Ardkeen Castle. The reverse would also hold good. That way these three castles formed a defensive chain across the Ards from the Irish Sea to Strangford Lough and effectively guarded Savage territory which at that time lay mostly South of this line. The expected rebellion came in 1641 and, although there were many horrific massacres in other parts of Ireland, mercifully the Ards remained untouched. Roland Savage died in 1640 and bequeathed Ballygalget to his eldest son, Roland, Kirkistown to his second son, John, and Ballyspurge to his third son, Patrick. Soon afterwards Patrick built at Ballyspurge a defended farmhouse with thick walls which included pistol loops. The building was surrounded by a bawn with a gatehouse. This has long been known locally as the White House, the ruins of which can still be seen on Mr. William Gowan’s land near the caravan park. After inheriting Kirkistown Castle in 1660, Roland Savage’s grandson, James, sold it to James McGill of Ballymonestragh. According to Montgomery, Captain McGill “improved this place very much by building garden walls and houses and repairing it in and about.” Montgomery, who was writing in 1701 also states that the “garden walls are washed with a pleasant fresh Lough”. Captain McGill was also responsible for the erection of Kirkistown windmill, the stump of which can still be seen on the Golf Course. He died in 1683. A few years later his sons fought as soldiers for King William III. The youngest son was killed at

Portglenone in 1689 fighting against the Irish and on 19th July, 1690 the eldest son, Hugh was killed with a cannonball at the siege of Athione. Hugh’s eldest daughter, Lucy, inherited the Castle. Her second husband was William Savage of Kirkistown and Audleystown. He was High Sheriff of Down around 1730. They had a daughter, Catherine. Lucy’s daughter, Mary, presumably from her first marriage, married a Montgomery but we cannot be sure if this is why Kirkistown became the property of the Montgomery family. In 1832 the Ardkeen Parish and Statistical Remarks stated There is an old Castle in the town land of Kirkistown. Some attempt has been made to put it in a state of repair and a good deal of expense gone to for that purpose. It is, however, now left with a halffinished roof and broken windows and time and the weather are gradually bringing it back to its former state of ruin. The cause of it is that its present owner, Mr. Montgomery is a minor.” By 1840 the Presbyterians of the area were looking for a suitable meeting- place prior to the erection of their church. Mr. Francis Bailie approached Mrs. Montgomery of Rosemount, Greyabbey and she kindly granted them the use of Kirkistown Castle. However, the number of people attending the services were more than it could hold.

Kirkistown Castle

There were people alive in 1884 who could remember ladies of the Montgomery family living in the Castle but by the 1880’s it was inhabited only by cattle, pigs and jackdaws. Despite being supported by two buttresses added around 1800, the walls bulged dangerously and were bound with vamps of iron. This latter was an attempt by the Montgomery's to prevent the building collapsing completely. Later expert opinion supported the view that the architects of the building made a serious error in not sinking the foundations deeply enough into the marshy ground on which the Castle is built. Around 1880 the Castle was in the charge of Mr. James Kelly, a farmer. Until the late 1940’s the Castle stood in its own grounds backed by a plantation and fronted on two sides by the Castle Grass, a wide velvety stretch of sea grass nibbled

short by the countless rabbits who had made their homes there and cavorted over it on sunny spring mornings. It was to this that the young people of the district were invited to attend a soirée (pronounced locally as “swaree”) each Easter Monday. They took part in games, rolled their Easter Eggs and had a picnic. At other times, until the end of World War! young people of the Ards were invited to private dances in the ballroom on the first floor. Many a lasting romance had its beginnings at these dances. During World War I the Castle became part of a radio communications link. One young Englishman who came here at that time, the late Mr. Fred W. Keene liked the place so much that after the war he set up in business in what had been David Lyons’ shop and which was until recently owned by the Johnston family. There for many years he ran an ice-cream parlor, news agency, tobacco and sweet shop and with his knowledge of radio which was still in its infancy, he sold and serviced radio sets. The tranquil beauty of the Castle in its setting was lost for ever when in the late 1940’s the Castle Grass was sold to Mr. Henry Gilmore of Kircubbin. He was just beginning to receive contracts from Down County Council for the construction of much-needed houses and needed a plentiful supply of building sand. Soon an unsightly sand pit with its attendant machinery took the place of the springy grass, the rabbit burrows and the happy children at their picnics. The ground bordering first the Kircubbin, and later the Main Roads, was developed in a housing project which is still being extended. Some years later the local Council also purchased part of the land for a new cemetery as most of the local churchyards were full. The excavations of the sand pit began to undermine the curtain wall of the Castle and part of it eventually collapsed. The Castle itself fell into danger of being weakened and eventually the sand pit had to close. The old Castle, having passed on to the Brown family is now the property of the Ancient Monuments Branch of the Department of Finance. When the necessary funds become available the tower and crumbling curtain wall will, hopefully, be repaired and the building perhaps be restored to its former glory. CHAPTER THREE LOCAL CHURCHES There are at present two churches in the town land of Kirkistown Christ Church, known locally as the Quarter Church is the Church of Ireland Parish Church of Ardkeen while the Dr. David Finnegan Memorial Church Hall Church is the Presbyterian Church of Cloughey and Portavogie. Christian settlement has long been established in the area and the ruins of three AngloNorman religious establishments still remain today. The old graveyard at Slans was for many years the principal burying ground in the Cloughey-Kirkistown area. Within its walls stand the ruins of a church which appears to have been known as Ardmacaisse. Records of it can be traced back as far as 1320 when two carucates of land were forfeited by John Fitz Nicholas of Slanes on account of his having joined Edward Bruce. These same lands were granted by the King to the Prior of St. John of Jerusalem.

The Priory of St. John of Jerusalem was situated in the town land of Castleboy where the ruins of the castle can still be seen. At one time its possessions comprised of nine town lands containing 1.35 8 acres and including Castleboy, also known as St.Johnstown, Ballynichol, Drumarden and Ballyadam. The church which once stood at Castleboy has completely disappeared together with the ancient burying ground which stood nearby. This was known as the Commandery or Preceptory of the Ards of the Knights of the Military Order of St. John of Jerusalem, otherwise known as the Hospital lers and now called the Knights of Malta. This Order was instituted to protect and provide medical care for Christians of the Holy Land and pilgrims going to Jerusalem at the time of the Crusades in the 12th — 14th centuries. Some of the lands once held by the Order eventually became the property of the Montgomery's. When the Savages built their castle at the top of Castle Hill, Ardkeen around 1880, they also built a little church nearby on the site of an early Christian settlement which, it is believed, dated back to the 6th Century. This was to be the Savages’ own private chapel and was named Ecclesia Sanctae Marie de Ardkeen, the Church of St. Mary at Ardkeen. In 1609 the Church was annexed to the prebends of St. Andrew’s under the name of Earchin and by 1723 the building had lain derelict for a long time. Francis Savage of Ardkeen determined to restore the old church. So he raised subscriptions from various sources, extracted one hundred pounds from the Government and contributed fifty pounds himself. On 2nd August, 1761, for the first time in over a century, divine service was performed in the Church 01 Ardkeen. The Rector on the occasion was Rev. Matthew Hazlett. In 1814 a later Francis Savage gave twelve acres of land on the Ardkeen Road to build a Rectory. The Church of St. Mary at Ardkeen was, like so many other buildings in the Ards, severely damaged on the “night of the big wind” in January 1839. It was therefore decided to build a new Parish Church. Land at Kirkistown Quarter was donated by Clayton Savage and in 1847 Christ Church, Ardkeen was erected. The first Rector was Rev. Alexander Bullick who had been the last incumbent of St. Mary’s. He brought some items from the old Church including two memorials to the Savage families of Ballygalget and Glastry and a two-inch thick slab of slate which for many years had served as an altar. Rev. Bullick died suddenly in.1 877 and was succeeded by Rev. Greer. In 1891, during the incumbency of Rev. Hugh Stowell (1880 - 1901) the church tower was added. The original plan had included a spire as well as the tower at a total cost of £212, but in the end funds only stretched to the building of the tower. Rectors since then have been:— 1901 — 1911 Rev. Turnstall 1911—1931 Rev.Scott

1931 — 1933 Rev. Beveridge 1933 — 1943 Rev. Craig 1943 — 1946 Rev. T. H. Frizelle 1946 — 1967 Rev. R. J. A. Savage In 1966 the Parishes of Ardkeen and Ballyhalbert were grouped to be served by one Rector. Rev. F. W. A. Bell has competently served in this capacity from 1967 until the present day. The old Presbyterian Church in Cloughey was built in 1842 on a plot of ground between the road and the sea which had been donated by John Echlin, Esq. of Echlinville and Rev. 1. R. Echlin. The Presbyterians of the district had been formed into a congregation on 26th January, 1841. Their first Minister was Rev. James Gamble. Prior to the opening of the Church, services were held in various places including Kirkistown Castle, kindly granted by Mrs. Montgomery of Rosemount, Greyabbey. However, attendances were more than the Castle could contain so the old school at Kirkistown, known locally as the Sand School, was used. Other meeting places included a barn at Drumarden, a store at Ballyspurge and Cloughey Coastguard Station. Rev. Gamble was ordained on 31st August, 1841. Mr. Gamble was responsible for building the Manse and he also owned six acres of land on the Drumarden Road. When he died, the Manse and field were put up for sale. Chip Braniff who was in America had made the highest offer but John Finnegan of Thorndale offered £250 as the congregation had not enough money to buy the property. He then sold the Manse to the congregation and kept the field which is still known as Gamble’s meadow.

Dr. David Finnegan

In 1875 Rev. Gamble was succeeded by Rev. John Moreland. Other ministers were:
1877 1907 1941 1953 1962 1981 — — — — — — 1906 1940 1953 1962 1981 1984 Rev. Rev. Rev. Rev. Rev. Rev. A. Whiteley D. Palmer G. K. G. Donaghy H. L. Henry T. A. Houston G. Moffett

The present incumbent is Rev. I. Neish who took charge of the congregation in 1985. Rev. D. Palmer served as Secretary of Cloughey Lifeboat for many years. W also served Kirkistown Castle Golf Club in the same capacity for some considerable time. He took charge of ministerial work in Portavogie until a congregation was formed there in 1937. Mr. Palmer then became the first minister of the United Charge of Cloughey and Portavogie. The Church Choir was one of his greatest interests and in his day it numbered some fifty strong. He will long be remembered by those who knew him as a kindly, helping hand to those in need. The following were members of the first Session elected on 27th November, 1917:— Messrs. Adam Palmer, Hugh Finnegan, James Orr and John Finnegan. On Saturday, 24th May, 1980, the new Presbyterian Hall Church at Kirkistown was opened and dedicated by the Moderator of the General Assembly, the Rt. Rev. W. M. Craig, B.A., D.D. The building had been erected on land kindly donated by the late Mr. W. Bailie of Ringboy and a proportion of the cost of the building was met by the legacy of Dr. David Finnegan, formerly of Drumarden who in his youth had been a member of the congregation. For most of his life Dr. Finnegan practiced medicine at Wednesbury near Wolverhampton. He died on 16th August, 1935, aged sixty-one years. The congregation decided to honour him by dedicating the Church to his memory. CHAPTER FOUR A HISTORY OF LOCAL SCHOOLS There are some twenty-five or so old school sites in the Upper Ards. Of these three were located in the area now served by Kirkistown Primary School. None of them date back to before 1800 because it was only after that date that the need for a national system of education for Ireland became evident. The British Isles were becoming industrialised and people who could read, write and count were essential if factories were to be run efficiently.

The white-washed building to the centre of the photograph was the old Cloughey National School. Cloughey National School (Roll No. 3747) This is the earliest school in the district for which we can find any record. It stood on the shore side of the present Manse Road opposite No. 7. It is recorded in Public Records Office documents ED 1/15 and ED 1/6/3/2. From these we learn that the school was established in 1828. The building was erected from local subscriptions, was not built on church ground and had no connection with any such establishment. This meant that the school was non-denominational and therefore open to pupils of all religious persuasions. In its early days the school was in connexion with the Kildare Place Society. This was the popular name for the Society for Promoting the Education of the Poor in Ireland which had its headquarters in Kildare Place, Dublin. The Kildare. Place Society would have contributed Grant Aid towards the purchase of books and payment of the teacher’s salary. All Government grants were withdrawn from the Kildare Place Society in 1831 and on 9th September 1831, a new system of Non-denominational education was set up in Ireland. This was under the control of the National Education Board and the system lasted with some modifications until Ireland was partitioned in 1921. In 1843 the Manager of Cloughey School, Rev. W. McKillen, PP of Lisbane and Ballygalget made application to the National Education Board for Grant Aid towards the payment of the teacher’s salary and a supply of books. From the application and subsequent reports we learn that the school was a stone and lime building with a thatched roof. It contained one room measuring 19 feet by 161/2 feet by 9 feet high which was used solely as a classroom. This room was furnished with a book press and five desks suitable for seventy pupils. There was also a desk for the master. The teacher was P. Mcllroy, then aged 53, who had trained in the Kildare Place Model School. The Inspector reported that his character was good, his literary acquirements satisfactory and his method of conducting a class tolerable. He had not previously taught in a National School. However, an objection to the application had been made by

Rev. Bullick, Rector of Ardkeen, who felt that Mr. Mcllroy’s business in the grocery and spirit trade and his ownership of a two-acre farm rendered him unsuitable as a teacher. In consequence he agreed to give up his business interests and the Education Board Commissioners felt that his farm should not interfere with his duties as a schoolmaster. The enrolment of the school in 1843 was 95 of which 67 were boys and 28 were girls. However, the average daily attendance of 30 boys and 20 girls reflects the fact that attendance at school was not compulsory. It can also be seen from these figures that more boys were enrolled than girls. The fees ranged from one penny to four pence per week and it was considered more important to educate a boy than a girl. Indeed, in many cases, National Schools were two schools under one roof, one school for the boys where they could learn arithmetic, reading and writing and one for the girls providing subjects such as needlework which would not tax what was regarded as the weaker and more delicate female brain! Therefore, if parents could only afford the fees for some of their children, then those members of the family to be educated would be boys. The fees paid by pupils formed part of the teacher’s salary. Teachers were frequently reprimanded or even dismissed for not keeping proper records of fees paid to them. The Inspector reported that Cloughey School was much needed in the neighborhood. Therefore, on 13th July, 1843, the Board ordered that payment of Mr. Mcllroy’s salary and books for one hundred pupils be granted and Cloughey School thus became a National School. This state of affairs did not last for long, however, for we find that on 1St June, 1847, salary was withdrawn from P. Mcllroy as he had had to be admonished several times by the Inspector who now found him quite incompetent. The Manager was called upon to appoint a competent teacher. On March 23rd, 1848, acting on an Inspector’s report dated 21st October, 1847, the Board ordered that Roll No. 3747 be struck off and all grants cancelled as the dismissed teacher still had possession of the house. This meant, in effect, that the school was no longer considered a National School and was therefore closed. A new National school was eventually erected in Ballygalget and opened in March 1854. It was demolished when the present school there was opened in 1966. The old school-house at Cloughey became a private dwelling. Its last owner was the late Mrs. Sarah Hughes, grandmother of Mrs. James Gowan of Bally spurge. On Boxing Day, 1945, Mrs. Hughes had the house prepared for a young couple, relatives of hers, who were planning to spend their honeymoon in Cloughey. Fortunately the happy couple did not arrive that day for a bad storm blew up and the sea became so rough that the bedroom and bed were washed into the Bay by the pounding waves. All that can be seen today is a fragment of the foundations.

Mr. Hugh Montgomery, J.P. founder and first Patron manager of Kirkistown National School.

The Patrons or Managers of Kirkistown School The Montgomery family of Rosemount, Greyabbey, being the local landowners, displayed an interest in the welfare and education of their tenantry in the midnineteenth century. As already stated, the impact of new machinery in industry necessitated better educational standards. However, the farming, fishing and sailing community of this area would not have experienced any industrial development

Major- General W. E. Montgomery, J.P., D.L., the second Patron-Manager of Kirkistown National School.

It is interesting to discover that Mr. Hugh Montgomery, Justice of the Peace and Deputy

Lieutenant, sought to establish a National School in 1862. He continued his duties as Patron until his death in 1894. When Mr. Montgomery was absent in London, his agent, James Brooke Atkinson, acted on his behalf. Mr. Montgomery’s eldest son, Major-General William Edward Montgomery, J.P., D.L., succeeded his father as the next Patron. He is remembered in both Greyabbey and Kirkistown as being greatly interested in the education of the children and the welfare of his tenants. Mrs. Margaret Currie, a former pupil, can still remember the arrival of General Montgomery at the school in his coach driven by his coachman and drawn by two horses. The General’s visits were most probably to speak to the teachers about the reports sent to him after the Inspector’s annual visit to Kirkistown. These reports told the General of the pupils’ answering and of the state of the school. One report said, “The floor gets no washing” and the next one asked that “the windows be made to open properly”. In 1899 reports appeared in the press that a meeting in favour of a candidate for the County Council was held in the school. The Board of Education wrote to the manager, Major-General Montgomery, asking him to guarantee that such meetings would not be permitted in future. The General in his reply wrote, “I shall be happy to comply with the wishes of the Board”. It is interesting to note that General Montgomery was a County Councilor for Down and Chairman of Newtownards Rural District Council 1908— 1909. General Montgomery died in 1927 and since then the family interest in the school has been maintained. When a member of the family was not on the Management Committee, a representative, usually a clergyman, was appointed. The school was managed jointly with Portavogie School from 1921 until the reorganisation in 1984. Since then Kirkistown has had its own Board of Governors. Major-General Montgomery’s grand-nephew, Mr. William H. C. Montgomery of Greyabbey, is a member of this Board. Kirkistown Castle National School (Roll No. 8916) — The Sand School The second school we know about in this area was Kirkistown Castle National School. An application was received at the Board of Education Office on 31St March, 1862 for a National School to be set up in the Parish of Ardkeen. This application was submitted by Mr. Hugh Montgomery of Rosemount, Greyabbey. Mr. Montgomery was also the owner of Kirkistown Castle and this new National School was sited somewhere on the green between the houses presently numbered 184—200 on the Main Road. By May. 1862 the school had been established locally by Mr. Montgomery and it was taken into connexion by the Board of Education on 1st June 1862. Mr. Montgomery was the Patron and no committee was elected to manage the school which has always been known locally as the “Sand” School. Mr. Montgomery was a member of the Established Church but he owned and managed the school which never had any direct links with the churches in the area. While Mr. McCaw was at Kirkistown, his Junior Literary Assistant and Work Mistress was Miss Mary Warnock, then aged 16 years nine months, who also started work on 8th

January, 1863. She stayed until 5th April, 1864. Her salary was £14 per year. Miss Wamock’s testimonials came from the Rev. James Rowan and Mr. John S. McCaw, the teacher in Kircubbin National School where she had been a pupil. She could teach crochet, knitting, netting and sewing. This she did for one hour each day. By this time a work table and press had been provided. Miss Warnock was succeeded on 1St May, 1864 by Miss Elizabeth McWatters as Work Mistress. In October 1864 the Inspector stated that “the Work Mistress must give Industrial Instruction for two hours a day”. This instruction would have been to prepare the girls in the art of needlework and embroidery or “flowering” as it is still called locally. The girls would continue to use this skill in later life to embroider fine linen for the local agents to sell to firms in Belfast and London. For this fine and intricate work they would receive a very small payment. No date is known for when Miss McWatters left. Mr. McCaw had three monitors while here. The first was Thomas Bailie who was being paid £3 as a Junior Monitor from 1St August, 1863. He stayed until 27th February, 1864 when he was followed on 1St May by Miss Elizabeth McMullan as the next Junior Monitor. She may have stayed until Thomas Whiteside became Junior Monitor on 1st July, 1865. Mr. McCaw, the Principal was awarded an extra £1 to his salary for training Thomas Whiteside, who, when he left on 5th October, 1865, had become a Senior Monitor. Mr. McCaw successor was John Wallace who was classed a 3,1 teacher. It is only a guess that the assistant teacher was in charge until Mr. Wallace took up duty on 4th December, 1865, two months after Mr. McCaw left. Tl Monitor at 1St February, 1866 was Miss Ester McMullan who was perhaps a sister of Miss Elizabeth McMullan who had been a Monitor two years earlier. The records are not clear about the dates or names of the assistant teachers. A Miss Catherine Dodd, classed as a 3,2 teacher is listed as assistant. In a letter of September 1867 a Catherine Johnston is recognised as a full Assistant from 15th April that year. We know that Mr. Wallace must have died while at Kirkistown because his widow was to be paid the balance of his salary provided the Inspector was sure that the school returns were correct. The fourth Principal was Mr. John Nelson who came after Mr. Wallace’s death. It would seem, that Mr. Nelson’s work did not please the Inspector in 1868 and by 1869 Mr. Nelson’s classification as a teacher was depressed because he had not kept accurate accounts of school book sales and fees. Mr. Nelson wrote to the Lord Lieutenant about the reduction in his salary but to no effect. He left Kirkistown on 31st January, 1869. . The Present School It has not been possible to find any details about the construction of the new Kirkistown National School at the corner of the Quarter Road and the Main Road on land given by Mr. Hugh Montgomery. This building was opened on Monday, 1st October, 1888 with Mr. William Walker as Principal. During talks with Mrs. Margaret Jane Currie, our oldest known former pupil, she has

given us a description of what this new school building was like. There were two windows facing the sea and the school was entered by a door at the corner nearest the road junction. This door led into a porch before entering the classroom. The walls of the classroom had wainscoting painted brown with yellow-washed walls above. The master’s desk was at the opposite end of the room to the door.

Our oldest known former pupil Mrs. Margaret J. Currie aged 95, revisits the school. The Assistant Teacher and the Monitors took groups of children at various parts of the back of the only classroom. These children had to stand round the Monitor or teacher to repeat their lessons orally. The desks were used by groups of older children who would be writing on slates or copy books before the groups would again change round from sitting to standing. The equipment in this early one-room school consisted of a blackboard, the book press and the ball-frame or abacus on which early counting was done. The only classroom charts were a map of the world which Mrs. Currie told us hung over the fire-place, the music modulator, the General Lesson and perhaps a map of the British Isles. Mrs. Currie remembers singing lessons when the Assistant Teacher, Miss McBride, played a small harmonium. We have not yet established the date when Miss McGrattan left Kirkistown Old School or whether she was still the Assistant when the new school opened. At the end of March 1889, a letter was sent to the Board of Education requesting that Miss Annie McVeigh be recognised as Work Mistress. This was turned down, apparently because the Inspector had reported unfavourably on her work. The work referred to was her book of needlework specimens depicting each kind of seam, buttonhole, hem, gathering and smocking which she in turn would use as samples for her class of girls. Miss McVeigh must have hastily rectified the offending specimens for two months later the Board of Education agreed to pay her £12 per annum with results fees for needlework as Work Mistress. This was back-dated to 1st November, 1888. So Miss Annie McVeigh must have started to teach in Kirkistown a month after the new building opened. She appears to have been succeeded by Miss Martha McVeigh who was appointed at the end of May, 1889 and remained until 31St December, 1891. The next Work Mistress was Miss Agnes Kelly who started teaching on 1st January, 1892. Mr. William Walker, the

Principal, who appears from the records to have been admonished by the Inspectorate over the years for various matters, left in October, 1892 having served the school for almost eighteen years. Mr. Walker was the first Principal to stay so long in Kirkistown, The seventh Principal, Mr. Samuel Donaghy, came to Kirkistown about 1St November, 1892. Miss Agnes Kelly remained as Work Mistress until Miss Anna Lawson took over on 1St February, 1893. Miss Lawson was followed by Miss Eleanor Snodden who took up duty on 16th August, 1893. Again, she only stayed until 23rd January, 1894. The next Work Mistress was Miss Lydia Connor who took up duties on 1St February, 1894, leaving again on 31st July, 1894. These Assistant Teachers may have stayed for such short periods because of the large number of children to teach in such cramped conditions. As early as December, 1892, the Manager, Mr. Hugh Montgomery, had written to the Commissioners of Education asking for a grant towards the provision of a new classroom. Their reply stated that as the school was non- vested, they “had no power under this rule to make a grant towards providing a classroom.” However they did state that “a loan is the only form in which public money could be advanced for this purpose”. They also added that “the existing accommodation appears ample for the number of pupils in attendance”. It would appear that Mr. Montgomery decided to go ahead because by October, 1893 the records show “a classroom is about to be provided; a desirable addition to the excellent school-house.” The request for the loan went to the Board of Works in February, 1894. The new classroom was added at a cost of £90 to the rear of the original school. It was fitted with tiered desks and afire-place. To day that room has been finally transformed into a modern cloakroom and work area. Mr. Montgomery also applied for a loan for the erection of a residence for the Principal. This loan, amounting to £250 was granted and the residence was completed a year later in May, 1895. The residence on the Quarter Road is now called Rathmore. It served as a home for successive Principals and their families until 1972. While the Master’s residence was being built the first Patron and Manager, Mr. Hugh Montgomery died. .His son, Colonel W. 0. Montgomery of the Scots Guards was recognised as his successor by the Commissioners. Colonel Montgomery was still on active service abroad, so he nominated his agent, Mr. J. B. Atkinson to act for him in his absence. It would appear that the Manager called at the school to visit the Master and staff regularly as he would have to discuss the comments made by the Inspector after each Annual Inspection which was generally held in August immediately after the summer vacation. The Inspector examined the children in reading, writing, grammar, arithmetic, geography and needlework. Between 1868 and 1900 teachers were paid results fees based on the achievement of their pupils in this Inspection. Colonel Montgomery was promoted Major-General before he retired from the Army in 1900. He is remembered by local people as a kind and caring person.

Mr. Donaghy’s next assistant may have been Miss Eleanor Bell who stayed until the end of January, 1896. A Miss M. Glover came as Assistant on 1st February, 1896 and stayed until 17th April, 1898. While Miss Glover was Assistant the results examination was postponed from August till September 1897 because of an outbreak of measles in the area. The next Assistant was Miss Maria McBride who started in Kirkistown On 1St May, 1898. This is the earliest teacher that Mrs. Currie can remember. Miss McBride left in July 1904 and was succeeded by Miss Agnes Bell of Greyabbey. At about this time a request for a gratuity to the Principal for the instruction of D. Kennedy as a first year Monitor was turned down. Mr. Donaghy resigned from the school in June 1904. Following this the school was under the care of a temporary Principal whose name we do not know. On 1st November, 1904 Mr. Robert McQuitty previously Principal of Portaferry No. 2 National School for fourteen years took up duty in Kirkistown, The building which was known as Portaferry No. 2 National School can still be seen as Portaferry Presbyterian Church Flail. Mr. McQuitty’s salary in 1904 was £175 per annum while that of his Assistant was £44. The Monitor from July 1901 until 1907 was Nathaniel Ennis who was paid £18 per annum. In the Inspector’s report of August 1905 we see that there were one hundred and eleven pupils on the rolls. Of these sixty-four were in First Standard - now Primary Three. The Inspector also noted that “there is no scale map of the locality”. By July 1906 Nathaniel Ennis was joined by two more Monitors - the Master’s son James McQuitty who was paid £10 per annum and Robert Kyle who was to be paid half that amount. That year the Inspector suggested that the playground should be levelled. Looking at photographs taken in later years we see that the surface was rough and stony. Mrs. Currie said that while she was at school pre 1906 the children were allowed to cross the narrow main road to play on the warren or to go across the Quarter Road where they slid down a sandy bank in the hollow. The large number of children also needed more equipment. So the Inspector asked for a Ball Frame and a supply of dotted slates. Miss Bell was granted two days leave of absence, the 5th and 6th June, 1907 for her marriage to Mr. Frank Adair. In his later years Frank was the school patrol man and caretaker until 1973. An interesting comment by the Inspector in August 1908 records that “a number of children had gone off at playtime to follow a band”.

Back Row Annabella Baillie, Eleanor Kelly, Lily Adair, Nellie Moore, ,Jeannie Beggs or Adair, Nellie Palmer, Alex Donnan, Rachel Bailie, Eizie Moore, Aggie Brown. 3rd Row Lizzie Bailie, Lizzie Bailie (2 different families), Hessie Moore, Aggie Fullerton, Rachel Kyle, Letita Palmer, Joe Ballie,Tommy Moore, Dot Sawley, Gibson, Nellie Kyle. 2nd Row Rosie Kemp, Mary Moore, May Hughes, Cissie McNamara, Molly Palmer, Annie Bailie, Lizzie Ferris Maggie J. Ferri Maggie E Bailie, Eliza J. Drysdale, Maggie Drysdale, (Coastguard’s daughter). The staff remained the same until Robert Kyle resigned his position as Monitor on 30th June, 1911 to be succeeded by Mr. McQuitty’s daughter, Miss Elizabeth Jane McQuitty, as Monitress. Her older brother, William, became the second Assistant teacher from 1st October, 1911. This is the year for which the earliest known photograph of the pupils of Kirkistown National School can be found. It is thought that there is another of the older children to complement the one that has been published. These photographs were probably taken in 1911 to mark the Coronation of George V and Queen Mary. In 1913 Mr. McQuitty’s salary had still remained unchanged since 1904 but Mrs. Adair was receiving £65 and William McQuitty was being paid £63 while his sister, the Monitress, was earning £16 per annum. The school continued to operate during the Great War. It had been coloured and painted in 1914 when there were one hundred and thirteen pupils on the rolls. That year the Inspector suggested “it would be an advantage to dispense with the use of slates”. Former pupil, Mr. William Gowan of Ballyspurge told the present pupils that he helped Mr. McQuitty and the bigger boys to dig a hole in the playground where they buried all the old slates. The site of this hole is somewhere near the modern double entrance gates. From 1916 records it would appear that Miss McQuitty left Kirkistown to go to Marlborough Street Training College Dublin. Her younger brother Samuel Henry succeeded her as Monitor. Miss McQuitty’s name appears in the records of Victoria National School, Ballyhalbert as having taught there for a short period at the end of 1917. Just as the Great War ended, the school closed for eighteen days because of the

influenza epidemic which engulfed the British Isles. Sadly, William McQuitty, the master’s son and assistant died in this epidemic on 14th November, 191 8,just three days after the armistice. His post was not filled by another assistant. Mrs. Agnes Adair resigned in July 1919 because of ill-health and died on 23rd December, 1919. During Mrs. Adair’s illness, Miss Maggie Hughes of Portavogie was substitute teacher. After Mrs. Adair’s death, Miss Elizabeth Jane McQuitty returned as her father’s Assistant Teacher. Father and daughter worked together in Kirkistown until Mr. McQuitty retired at the end of March, 1927. To mark his work in Kirkistown School Mr.McQuitty was presented with a clock which is still in the possession of his grand-daughter. Mr. McQuitty moved to Lisburu. He died tragically in a fire in his home at Glengormley in January, 1947. The ninth Principal only stayed from 1st April until 30th June, 1927. He was Alfred Topping. Mr. Topping does not seem to have moved into the Teacher’s Residence as we have been told by the Agar family that he travelled to and from Kirkistown School on his B. S. A. motor cycle from his lodgings in Portaferry. On 1st July, 1927 Mr. Joseph McGill became the master of Kirkistown Public Elementary School as it was now to be known. This change of name was the result of the Government of Northern Ireland’s first Education Act which was passed in 1923. It placed schools under the control of local authorities and substituted the title Public Elementary School for National School. Mr. McGill came from Antrim because his son is recorded as having attended St. Mary’s Public Elementary School, Antrim. Miss Lily McQuitty continued teaching with Mr. McGill until she left in 1928 on the occasion of her marriage with Mr. David Thompson, the owner of the grocery shop in the Square, Cloughey. Miss Violet Ruth D’Alton became Mr. McGill’s Assistant Teacher. Miss D’Alton’s home was in Belfast but she stayed in a bungalow on the Main Road durung the week and returned home to the city on her motorcycle each weekend.

64 Years ago (1924) Back Row: George Young, W. J. McNamara, Ernie Kelly, Jack McDowel4 David McCappin, Willie Graham, Hugh Robert Denver, Hugh Palmer, Norman Kelly, Tommy Young, Alice Jones.
3rd Row: Hugh O’Prey,

James Gowan, David Maginnis, John Maginnis, Ethel McDoweg, Florrie Finnegan; Sara Bena Ferris Robert McDowell James McDowell Willie Palmer, Willie Rice, Tommy Kelly 2nd Row: Maggie McCormick, Allie McCappin, Cissy Young, Mary Ann Young Lily Young, Jimmy Young, May Ferris, Molley Palmer, Tina Martin, Helen Kelly. Front Row: Bobby McCormick, Samuel O’Prey, Andy Palmer, George Donnan, Willie Polley.
Teachers: Mr.

McQuitty and Miss McQuitty

The school building seems to have remained unaltered from the addition of the classroom in 1895. The original large room at the front held the Assistant Teacher with the younger classes. We have been told that there were two high windows in the large room, one in each of the north and south facing gables. The classroom at the back with tiered desks in it was the Master’s room. The stove was used for cookery lessons by the girls. Down the years there were many reports commenting on the state of the building. A major renovation took place around 1938-39 when the large front room was divided into two classrooms. The old wood-framed windows facing the sea were replaced and the gable windows were built up. The fires were replaced by stoves and central heating was installed using a coke-fired boiler. This work necessitated the 1895 classroom being altered. The desks and stove were removed, the ceiling was lowered because water storage tanks were put into the roof space. A hand pump was installed in the north-west corner to raise the water from the well in the playground. A large sink was also installed and the whole area became the cloakroom. A small room with a sink was constructed near the back door to store the caretaker’s cleaning equipment. At this time the caretaker was Mrs. Eliza Anne Devanney who lived across the Quarter Road from the school. She also had a small shop. The renovations were carried out by Mr. Robert Hamilton of Downpatrick, while the central heating was installed by Mr. Bell from Belfast. While these alterations were taking place, the school children were moved to temporary accommodation elsewhere. Mr. McGill was still Principal when war was declared in 1939. While here he took the senior boys and girls for horticulture. They were marched up the Quarter Road every Tuesday and Friday afternoon to the Master’s residence. There they grew and tended the flowers and vegetables. We have been told that Mr. McGill had a lovely garden.

Mr. McGill was in ill health for some time and a series of substitute teachers took over. Those recorded are; Miss Elizabeth Jane Orr, Edwin W. Parker, David Norman Keel, Miss Elsie E. Lee and Miss Elizabeth Patricia Cully. Miss D’Alton had to take charge of the senior classes herself because from Easter 1941 the numbers attending the school rose due to the many evacuees who moved into the area to be clear of the German bombing of Belfast. Mr. McGill retired in September 1941. Miss D’Alton remained responsible for the running of the school until the Principalship was taken up by Mr. James Wilson. Mr. Wilson came to Kirkistown Public Elementary School on 1St April, 1942 from Ballyboley Upper P. E. S. Co. Antrim where he had been Principal. His period as Principal of Kirkistown is the longest in the life of the school. Mr. Wilson worked very hard and demanded and kept a very high standard of attainment by his pupils.

48 Years ago ( 1940 ) Back Row: S. McCormick a Donnan, N. Moore J. Young R Donnan, N. McVeigh, D. Hastings 4th Row: E Young H. Moore, I. Watson, H. Gammon, L Kelly, H. Johnston, Moore 3rd Row: B. Blackmore A. McVea, E McVea, J. Adair, R. Moore 2nd Row: D. Coffey, B. McMur,y , J. Johnston, J. Adair, P. Graham, S. Donnan, B. Anderson, M Watson, M Graham Front Row: B. McVea, T Adair, J. Maginnis A. Maginnis R. McVea Teachers: Miss Dalton, Mr. Magill

Miss Violet D’Alton retired as assistant in April 1945 just before the war ended. Following this Mrs. Effie E. Wilson was appointed as her husband’s assistant from 1st May 1945. Both Mr. and Mrs. Wilson had trained at Stranmillis Training College. In about 1947 the old dry toilets, or privies, in the school yard were replaced with water closets. Originally a wall ran from the north gable to the toilet block. This separated the

boys from the girls. The new toilet block was designed with four toilets for the girls, a separate toilet for the staff and a urinal and two toilets for the boys. At night the entrances to the toilets were closed with two iron gates to deter intruders. By 4th July, 1949 a second assistant, Mr. Robert E. Brown joined the staff. He remained until 31St July, 1950 when he was followed by Hubert G. Bryans who stayed from 1st September, 1950 until 30th January, 1953. Both these teachers had been trained at Larkfield College during 1948-9. Because of this we assume that they had seen active service in the forces during the war. From May till December 1953 the second assistant was Mr. Jonathan M. Taylor who left to become Principal of Colebrooke Primary School, Co. Fermanagh.

Photograph taken 1949

Back Row: Francis Adair Hugh Tom Kelly, Robert Thompson, Billy Gibson, Cecil Maginnis, Trevor Rankin, William McDonnell Joseph Bailie, Sam Adair, Jack Drysdale, James Gowan, William Drysdale, Jim Hastings, David Ingram, Desmond Polley, David Adair. Middle Row: Lila Finnegan, Ada Moore, Jean Adair, June Palmer, Betty McClements Dolly Martin, Valerie Rankin, Margaret Muckle, Jean McKibbin, Ethel Anderson, Valerie Johnston, Tirinthia McNamara Annette McMurray, Sadie McKibbin, Olive McDowel4 Elizabeth Drysdale. Front Row: Tom McKibbin, James Robinson, Joe Clin4 Brian Morrison, Letitia Coffey, Myrtle McMurray, Annie Bailie, Hanna McKibbin, Mazy Bailie, Ian McKelvey, Arnott McDowel4 Robert McDowell Freddie Robinson, June Brown, Rosemary Belly Morrison, Gracey Morrison, Hugh McDowel4 Roy Donnan, Ronnie McClements, Tom Drysdale, Tom Johnston. Sitting: William Finnegan, Leslie McClements. The next teacher was Mr. Robert Ivan Beckett of Portavogie. He taught in Kirkistown from 4th January, 1954 until he took up duty as Principal of Portaferry Primary School on 1st January, 1957. Mr. Beckett had served as a Warrant Officer with the R. A. F. and saw service dropping supplies and personnel to the Underground Movements in France and Norway. As the war progressed, he was at the Normandy Landings, Arnhem and the Rhine Crossing. After leaving the R. A. F. Mr. Beckett completed his teacher

training at Kirkby Training College, Liverpool

39 Years ago

Back Row: Jean McNamara; Jean Young, Nora Young, Beryl Adair, Stella Drysdale, Raymond McDowell Elizabeth Moore Sally Adair, Sadie Robinson, Valerie McMurray, Olive Adair. Second Row: Ann Wilson, Elizabeth Taylor, Beth Graham, Elizabeth Clark, Kathleen Anderson, Kerr Donnan, Martha McDonnell Edna Anderson, Letitia Donnan, Isobel Maginnis, May Robinson, Ann Robinson. Third Row: Hugh Young Ian McMaster, Robert Milligan, Junior Adair, David McDonnell, David Bailie David Martin, Jim Wilson, Hugh Finnegan, David McMurray, Brian Mulligan. Mr. Thomas N. Crawford taught as Assistant from March, 1957 until August 1961. Glastry Intermediate School opened in September, 1957 and from this date all pupils left Kirkistown at the age of eleven. Thomas M. McMullan, Mrs. Kathleen Cupples, Miss Joan Kennedy and Mr.Ronald Mitchell acted as temporary assistants during 1960-6 1 as did Mrs. Grace van Lew in the interval between Mr. Beckett and Mr. Crawford. Mr. William A.Hoy came on 1St December, 1961 to teach in Kirkistown until 31st March, 1965.The next assistant was Mrs. Anne S. Brown who taught from August 1965 until June, 1966. Each second Assistant Teacher was accommodated in a wooden hut with a cokeburning stove for heat which was erected in the playground as a third classroom. By 1952 the senior boys were traveling to Portavogie Technical School for woodwork lessons. It would appear that by 1966, Mr. and Mrs. Wilson were without a second assistant for the middle division of the school.

30 Years ago

Back Row: Mr. T Crawfor4 Hugh McKibbin,. Victor Kelly, David Adair, Ian Gracey, Robert Adair, John Bailie Derek Millar, Maurice Wa1ter Hugh Gracey, Samuel Cully, Samuel Moore, Trevor Mahoo4 Eddie Agar, George Donnan, David McCormick, John McMaster, Mi Wilson and Mr. Wilson (Principal) 2nd Row: Errol Agar, Stephen Henry, Willie Agar, Ian McDowell James Gibson, Hugh Cully, Louise McMaster, Isobel McCormick, Joan Weir, Carol McKibbin, Annie Agar, Anne McDowell Janette Ballie, Mary Martin, Heather McDoweg Hessie Moore, Nat McKibbin, Don Robinson, Norman Bailie Norman Glenn, Hugh Donnan, Hugh Maginnis. 3rd Row: Janet Robinson, Marie McKibbin, Anna Mahoo4 Maureen McClements; Elaine Clint Sheila Weir, Carol McCappin, Elizabeth Spiers, Avril Palmer, Diana Gracey, Anne Hughes; Elizabeth Donnan, Linda Tanton, Carol Maginnis; Alexandra Brown, Anne Maginnis; Elizabeth Clin4 Alex McVea. Front Row: Fergus Hughes; Samuel McKibbin, Samuel Bailie, Palmer Agar, Ernest McNamara, James McMaster, Elwin Brown, Osborne McMurray, Joe Ballie Billy Robinson, Gerald Bell, James Kelly, Robin Henry, Robert Maginnis, Billy Donnan, Basil Millar, Eddie Robinson. After many remarks by the Inspectorate about the small playground area, it would appear that the upper playground, or “extension”, as it is known, was acquired from Kirkistown Castle Golf Club during 1958-9. It was laid down in grass but the Inspector remarked that the top soil was not good as it was full of stones. He noted in 1962 that the “additional playground should be resurfaced to make further space for outdoor Physical Education lessons.”. He also noticed that the school heating system required an overhaul. In 1965 the Inspector remarked that the “living and working conditions for teachers and children have been immeasurable improved” by the erection of a new classroom to replace the wooden hut and the conversion of one of the original classrooms to a dining room with servery attached. We think that the central heating was converted to oil at

the same time.

Kirkistown Primary School 28th March 1968 - Mrs. E.E. Wilson's Class

Back Row: Raymond Moore, James Cupples; Gary Orr, Stanley McDowell Keith Donnan, Alex. Donnan, Stephen Robb, Johnny Cupples, David Clint, George Clin4 George Gibson. Third Row: R O’Leary, Olive McMaster, Margaret King Elizabeth Dynes, Al/son McVea, Sandra Orr, Sarah Ross; Rosemary Gilmore; Elaine Tanton, Lyn Robb, Mary O’Leary. Second Row: H. McMaster, J. Moore, Helen Dynes; Amy Gibson, Lorraine Donnan, Shirley Savage; Lorraine Ambrose; May Agar, Debra Moore, Beth Maginnis, Trevor Dynes. Front Row: Billy Moore; John Gibson, John McMaster, Brendan O’Leary, William Mawhinney, Peter McVea Stephen Moore, Michael Robb, Barry Moore, Ian Robinson.
The Inspector suggested in October, 1966 that “the removal from the small playground of the hut, no longer in use, might receive early attention”. We have no record of how the hut was eventually removed. Mr. and Mrs. Wilson retired from teaching in 1968 and moved to Saintfield, near Mrs. Wilson’s old home. Mr. Wilson was a Co. Antrim man and education had been his life-long interest. He saw the introduction of the Eleven Plus examination in 1947-48 and was very proud of the achievements of his pupils many of whom were able to continue to Grammar Schools, either as day pupils to Regent House or boarders to Friends School, Lisburn.

School Group taken in 1970

Back Row: Mrs. Kennedy, Helen McMaster, Lorraine Ambrose, May Agar, Helen Dyne Wm. Mawhinney, Peter McVea, Amy Gibson, Margaret King, Olive McMaster, Deborah Moore, Jacqueline Moore, Beth Maginnis, Mr. D. A. Patton. Third Row: Jan Robinson, Margaret Bailie, Elaine Bailie, Diane Coffey, Mark Gowan, Sharon Morgan, Olwen Adair, Andrea Morgan, Yvonne Gregory, Diane Robinson, Caroline Bailie, Lorraine Donnan. Second Row: Jim Cling; Julianne Moore, Gary Moore, Arlene Maginnis, Ivan Dynes, Morrison Anderson, Roberta McMaster, lain Adair, Joanne Hughes, Ivan Moore, Trevor Ambrose, Hugh Finnegan, Stephen Ballie, Nigel Adair, John Gibson. Seated: Joanne McMaster, Colin Young, Robert Thompson, William Maginnis, Samuel Cupples, Robert McKenzie, Olive Hastings Rodney Moore, Elizabeth Anderson, Tom Smyth, Jean Adair, Gillian Maginnis Gary Young (behind him is Trevor Dynes). Mrs. Wilson has supplied us with the following names of Mr. Wilson’s pupils known to have gone beyond Grammar School to higher education: Robert McMurray, L.L.B. (Q.U.B.) David Coffey, M.P.S.N.I. Samuel Moore, F.P.S. - President of the Pharmaceutical Society William Finnegan, B.A. (Q.U.B.) Ada Moore, B.A. (Q.U.B.) Anne Wilson, B.A. (hons) (Q.U.B.) I Leslie McClements, Ph.D. Manchester University

Barrie Niblock, B. Agr. (hons) (Q.U.B.) Jim Wilson, B.Sc. Agriculture, Durham University. He is now Director of Glenwherry Farm, Greenmount Agricultural College. Myrtle McMurray, Letitia Coffey, Annie Bailie, Betty McClements, Amy Finnegan and Isobel Kyle went to Stranmillis Training College while Caroline Cupples trained as a teacher at Glamorgan College of Education. Amy Finnegan, now Anderson, the coauthor of this history, became Principal of Portaferry Primary School while Caroline Cupples, now Finnegan, reached the same position in Ballyeasborough Primary School. Mrs. Wilson also stated that Linda Adair, Carol McCappin and Kerr Donnan entered the Civil Service after courses at Newtownards Technical College, while James Johnston, David McMuray, David McNamara and Samuel Bailie obtained apprenticeships in industry. At a ceremony in Glastry School in June, 1968, Bobby McMurray on behalf of parents, pupils and friends presented Mr. and Mrs. Wilson with a beautiful stereogram to mark their retirement after over fifty years combined teaching service in the community. When Mr. Derek A. Patton, formerly Vice-Principal of Greyabbey Primary School became Principal of Kirkistown on 1St October, 1968, Mrs. Lillian Kennedy had already been assistant teacher for six months. She left in May, 1971 to be succeeded by Miss M. I. Joan Brennan. During Mr. Wilson’s time it became necessary to employ a crossing patrolman for the summer months. The first to hold this position was Mr. Frank Adair. In 1969, Mr. Andy Ferris from Portavogie succeeded him as full-time patrolman, a situation he held until January, 1975. During Mr. Patton’s time as twelfth Principal, the school acquired a black- and-white television set. The cost of its rental was defrayed by the pupils who paid two pence per week. The first cassette recorder was also obtained at about this time. The Main Road was being re-aligned and a proper car-park with toilet facilities was being constructed to eliminate the random parking on the warren. The pupils enjoyed watching the workmen as the project developed. On 1st October, 1972, Mr. Patton took up the Principalship of Ballywalter Primary School. His predecessor there, Mr. Leslie Whisker acted as Principal in Kirkistown during November and December of that year, Mrs. Ramsay having been acting Principal in October. The next Principal was Mrs. Elizabeth J. C. Lyttle, B.A., who is the first woman to hold the post in the school.She had been Mr. R. I. Beckett’s Assistant teacher in Portaferry during the years 1959-6 1 and 1963 -72. She took up duties on 1st January, 1973.

Former pupil Robert McMurry, L.L.B., presenting Mr. and Mrs. Wilson with a stereogram to mark the occasion of their retirement in 1968

In February, 1973, Mr. Frank Adair retired as caretaker and his niece, the present caretaker, Mrs. Jean Adair, came to keep the school in pristine condition. Mrs. Lyttle and Miss Brennan ran the school until the latter, now Mrs. McMaster, left in 1976. Mrs. Lillian Kennedy returned as the Assistant teacher and remains in charge of the Infant Division. Many improvements have taken place in recent years. A telephone was installed in about 1974 and because of the increased traffic on the Quarter Road, the original double gates were removed and the wall built up. The new entrance from the Main Road made it possible for the school meals van to drive into the school grounds. Meals have been provided by the Central Meals Kitchen, Portaferry since October 1950. In June 1988 this kitchen closed and the meals are now brought from Glastry High School. The van drivers over the years have been John Smyth, Joe Fitzsimmons, Jack McMillan and Aidan Murray. The dinner ladies who served these meals have been Mrs. McCappin, Mrs. King, Mrs. Coffey and now Mrs. Sylvia Polley. Supervisory Assistants were introduced. The first to hold this situation was Mrs. M. McDonnell. The second and present such lady is Mrs. Isobel Brown. Before meals were delivered from Portaferry Central Kitchen, dinners were cooked on the premises by Mrs. Lucy Adair. Mrs. Wilson can still remember the smell of stew bubbling on the stove! Mr. David John Donnan was patrolman from March 1975 until February,1982. His successor was the late Mr. Sandy Mahood who died suddenly in July 1987. Our present

patrolman is Mr. George Gibson. He and Mr. Mahood both attended the school as children. Road Safety is an important part of the school curriculum. Mrs. Kennedy has a Tufty Club to teach the younger pupils the rudiments of care on the road while the senior children take part in the annual Cycling Proficiency Test. This was first undertaken by Miss McRobert and continued by Miss 0. Adair. In 1976 the school again acquired a second Assistant teacher when Miss Irene Thompson of Greyabbey was appointed. Two years later, as Mrs. McAvoy, she moved away and Miss Elaine Palmer of Kircubbin replaced her. The numbers dropped and Miss Palmer was transferred to Victoria Primary School, Ballyhalbert. In September, 1981, Miss Mary L. McRobert joined the staff. She stayed for five years, becoming Mrs. Spratt and left to live in Portadown in 1986. Miss Olwen Adair, a former pupil of Kirkistown, joined her one-time teachers, Mrs. Lyttle and Mrs. Kennedy to become the Assistant in charge of the Middle Division of the school. She takes up a new appointment in Tonagh Primary School, Lisburn in September, 1988 when Kirkistown will revert to being a two-teacher school. The most recent building operations to further modernise the school were carried out in 1982-3 when the three teachers and their pupils were housed in three mobile classrooms in the Extension playground. The 1948 toilet block was demolished as soon as the new indoor toilets and staffroom were completed. The old coat stands in the cloakroom were removed and coat pegs were arranged around the walls. This now allows the cloakroom to double as a work area with a sink and cupboards for storing painting equipment. The old hall door and entrance porch were demolished to make way for a storeroom and cleaner’s store. The original back entrance became the new front entrance to correspond with the entrance gates. New internal doors were also provided. The old central heating system was replaced by electric storage heaters and an electric bell was also installed. The prevailing easterly winds were taking their toll of the 1938 steel window frames so these were replaced with P.V.C. windows in August, 1987 when the roof space was also insulated. Therefore conditions in the school are now very comfortable for pupils and staff alike. This is not only because of the renovations but also because each classroom has lined curtains which are drawn overnight in the winter months to conserve heat and on sunny days to shade the rooms. Inline with the latest developments in education, the South Eastern Education and Library Board has had the monochrome television set replaced by a colour set. A B.B.C. micro-computer and printer are in use by the pupils as well as a radio-cassette player.

Kirkistown Primary School 2nd September, 1988

Back row (left - right): Richard Bradford, Peter Dempster, Gary Beg Jolene Donnan, D. Jayne Birch, Karl Adair, Neil Graham Devoy Smith, Claire Kennedy, Rosemary McMaster, Adam Donnan, Robert Adair, Jonathan Donnan. Third row: Sarah Smith, William Robinson, David Robinson, Kathryn Beggs Lynzi King, Janice McMaster, Wallis Birch, Brian Polley, Cohn McClements.
Second row: Roseanna Plummer,

Richard Beggs Julie Robinson, Judith Anne Donnan, Lisa Trainor, Paul Dempster, Amanda Adair, Michael Anderson, Jonathan Edgar, Steven McVea, Eddie Adair, Lisa McMaster. Front row: Peter Cash, Vicki Anderson, Peter Neish, Jacqueline Mahood, Clare Bradford, Andrew McMaster, Andrew Tipping Neil Cash, Keith Balloch, Kathy Lee Clin4 Aaron O’Lone. At the back ( on left ):Teachers - Mrs. E Lyttle, Mrs. L Kennedy, Miss P. McMillan. At the back ( on right ):Ancillary Staff - Mrs. S. Polley, Mrs. I. Brown, Mr. G. Gibson, Mrs. J. Adair. In 1986 the Area Board asked the Principal to share a music teacher, Miss Patricia McMillan with St. Patrick’s Primary School, Ballygalget, Portaferry Primary School, Ballyeasborough Primary School and Victoria Primary School, Ballyhalbert. This has greatly enhanced the standard of music in the school and the children have taken part in joint musical performances. A remedial teacher is also to visit the school regularly from September, 1988. Educational visits are now a feature of the school year. Day visits have taken place to the Isle of Man as well as to Mountstewart, Castleward, Belfast Zoo and Ballycopeland Windmill. Residential visits have been made to Cabra Towers, Rathfriland and to Edinburgh. Each Autumn term concludes with the Christmas Concert when parents and friends gather in the Principal’s room to watch the plays which each class presents. Prior to Christmas the children bring in toys suitable for needy children in Belfast and during the year collections are made for various children’s charities.

While the compilers of this short history do not claim to have recalled all the historical events in and around Kirkistown School it is to be hoped that this booklet will refresh the reader’s memory of some of them. The writers hope that their sense of history may in some small way be imparted to successive pupils as they read the story of this small educational establishment on the Eastern coast of the Ards Peninsula. BOARD OF GOVERNORS - 1988 The Board of Governors of Kirkistown Primary School in this its centenary year are: Rev. I. D. Neish, B. Sc., B. D. (Chairman) Rev. F. W. A. Bell, M. A., B. D. Mr. W. L. McIntyre Mr. R. C. Ambrose Mrs. Jas. Adair Mr. R. McClements Mrs. W. H. C. Montgomery Mr. J. A. Watt Mrs. L. S. Kennedy THE STORY OF CLOUGHEY LIFEBOAT The coast of the Upper Ards has long been a notorious hazard to shipping in the Irish Sea but the most treacherous stretch of all lies around Cloughey. Here the North Rock and the South Rock lie some distance out to sea, the latter being covered at high tide. Kirkistown Spit stretches out from Ringboy Point towards the North Rock while the Ridge runs seaward for over a mile beyond the South Rock. Further south lie the needle sharp rocks of Kearney, Tara and Ballyquinton Points. Small wonder that Montgomery describing Kirkistown windmill in 1701 stated that it “is seen far off at sea, and serves in day-time in good steade as a landmark for sailors to avoid the north and south rocks which are noted in all maps for the misfortune that ships especially foreigners have had on them in stormy and dark weather So that it were to be wished that a lighthouse were to be erected and maintained there”. Forty-three years later, in 1744, Walter Harris wrote thus:- “But beware of the South rock on which many brave ships have perished; for it is overflowed every tide, and no Crew can save their lives (as it stands a full mile from the shore) if the winds blow high”. A lighthouse was eventually constructed on the South Rock at the behest of Lord Kilwarlin, 2nd Marquis of Downshire. It was lit for the first time on 25th March, 1798.

Nevertheless, shipwrecks continued to occur and it was felt that the lighthouse did not give adequate warning of the Ridge. Therefore in 1877 a lightship was moored further out to sea. Nowadays the South Rock Lightship is unmanned and completely automatic. Despite these precautions it was not uncommon after a stormy night to find three or four wrecks high and dry on the rocky coast of the Upper Ards - at Ballyquinton and Tara Points and on the North and South Rocks, often with every member of their crew drowned. For example, in 1855 the Saint Marie, a French sailing vessel came ashore with the loss of thirty of her crew, while in 1867 a Spanish ship foundered at Ballyquinton Point with the loss of her entire crew of twenty-seven. A grave close by the entrance at Slans graveyard bears the following inscription: “Erected in memory of Joseph Erving aged 16 years who was lost in the Mally of Workington with the rest of the unfortunate crew on Ringboy Point the 24th of March 1810.” Almost 40 years later, on 29th October, 1849, the Highland Lass with a crew of eleven ran into danger of being washed aground on Ringboy Point during a severe gale. Fishermen and coastguards alike endeavored to assist the vessel and after several attempts succeeded in launching a large boat, the property of John Donaldson. This boat soon began to fill with water and the crew used their hats.... bail her. The eventually succeeded in taking off four of the crew of the Highland Lass but when the boat reached the beach, owing to the heavy breakers rolling onto the sand, one of the rescued and one of the rescuers were washed out to sea and lost. Such was the ferocity of the waves and the incoming tide that, although the doomed vessel was only three hundred yards from the shore, a gentleman named Savage who carried much respect in the district persuaded the would-be rescuers that to render further help would mean going to certain death without achieving any good. The Highland Lass beached on the sand with the waves rushing over her hull. One by one the crew were washed off but only two more reached shore alive. All the survivors were cared for in a nearby cottage. By 1880 representations were being made to have a lifeboat stationed at Cloughey but at that time the RNLI lacked the necessary funds to provide this. Then on 11th January 1883 the Wild Deer a magnificent full rigged ship and former tea-clipper bound from Glasgow for New Zealand with two hundred and nine emigrants, forty crew and nine hundred tons of general cargo struck the North Rock in a South-easterly gale. At daybreak the next day the Coastguards organised a flotilla of small boats from Kirkistown and Cloughey to rescue the passengers and crew until all were saved. The clergyman of Cloughey Presbyterian Church Rev. E. W. Whiteley opened the doors of his church and allowed the crew and passengers to sleep on the pews. In 1884 Cloughey Lifeboat Station was erected prior to the arrival of an un named temporary vessel. The first permanent lifeboat 0N94 Faith came on station in 1885. No history of Cloughey lifeboat would be complete without stressing at this stage the exceptional service devoted to it by the Young family of Kirkistown who for several generations have risked their lives to rescue those in peril on the treacherous Ards coast. This outstanding record began when Frank Young became the lifeboat’s first Coxwain.

The Faith was not called out for service during her first four years as there was difficulty in launching and if a wreck were some distance away from Cloughey, the Ballywalter or Tyrella lifeboat would reach it first. However, adequate arrangements were eventually made and in 1889 Cloughey lifeboat was called out to guide to safety the SS Lady Ailsa which was in difficulties. In 1906 ON 553 John came on station. During the twenty-five years she was in Cloughey she saved no less than one hundred and thirty-one lives and assisted in saving a number of ships. The John’s first service was on 26th December 1906 when she rescued the crew of twenty from the SS Hazeldene of Newcastle on Tyne. Twice - on 16th March 1907 and 23rd February 1911 she was called out to assist the Witch of the Wave owned by James Elliott & Co. of Portaferry. In both cases the crew of three was rescued. However, on 9th February 1914, the Witch of the Wave and another Portaferry ship, the Lough Long owned by W. & A. McMullan were both caught in a storm on a run from Belfast. Captain Adair of the Witch of the Wave decided to seek shelter in Cloughey Bay. On the other..... ....hand, the Lough Long under Captain Polley, a native of Cloughey, headed on towards Portaferry Unfortunately the ship was smashed to pieces on rocks at Strangford Bar. Captain Polley and his crew of two other Cloughey men, David McCappin and Andrew McNamara were all drowned leaving young families. On 14th November 1908 the large French barque Croisset of Rouen ran aground on the South Rock during a hurricane. Cloughey lifeboat made several trips and eventually rescued the entire crew of twenty-six. For their extreme courage on this occasion Coxwain Robert C. Young and Chief Coastguard Officer Edwin Cupman were awarded Gold Medals by the French Government, the remainder of the crew receiving Silver Medals. Each medal was accompanied by a Diploma. The Lifeboat Secretary, J. A. McMullan was presented with an aneroid barometer. During a gale on 18th November 1920 the SS Scarpa ran aground on the North Rock. The lifeboat was called and after several trips succeeded in landing the entire crew of thirty. Acting Coxwain Andrew Young received a special commendation for his part in the rescue. A few years later, at a Centenary meeting of the RNLI held at the Mansion House, London, Andrew was this time presented with the Bronze Medal of the RNLI by the Prince of Wales, later Edward VIII, for his part in the rescue of five men from the brigantine Helgoland, a former Q ship, which was wrecked on Tara Point on 11th January 1924. The story of the wreck of the Helgoland is one which vividly illustrates a lifeboat man's devotion to duty. When the call-out came for the lifeboat the Coxwain was away from home. His brother, the Second Coxwain lay dying. A third brother, Andrew Young, was by his dying brother’s bed. However, duty called and Andrew went out in the teeth of a heavy South-westerly gale, through hail and sleet to take charge of the lifeboat. The wreck was found to be surrounded by rocks. When the rescue was effected at dawn the next morning it was watched from the shore by the Inspector of Coastguards who later described the rescue as the finest piece of seamanship he had ever seen. When Andrew returned home he found that his brother had died two hours after the lifeboat had been launched.

Miss Mary Agnes Mason of Tara witnessed the wreck of the Helgoland as a young girl. She has related how the ship laden with barley ran aground at Mast Port just below the now-disused Tara look-out hut. It was about ten o’clock on a very stormy Friday night. Mary Agnes’ mother was helping her son, John, to load stones into their cart to prevent it blowing about and being smashed in the gale. Suddenly they saw flares lighting up the Bay and over the sound of the wind they could hear cries for help. They immediately informed their neighbour, Mr. Henry McGrattan who hurried off to inform the Coastguards. Cloughey lifeboat was called but they could not see well enough to get close to the Helgoland which was surrounded by rocks. As day dawned the lifeboat men realised that the decks of the ship were already submerged, the sails were torn to pieces and the crew were clinging precariously to the foremast. Coxwain Andrew Young brought the lifeboat closer and one by one the shipwrecked sailors jumped into her. No sooner were they aboard the lifeboat than the mast to which they were clinging crashed onto the deck of the brig and she sank. The five survivors were landed at Cloughey where the Lifeboat Secretary, Rev. D. Palmer provided them with hot food and dry clothes. The John was moved to Newcastle in 1931 and remained there until 1937. It is difficult to realise, in these days of sophisticated rescue equipment and techniques, that the Faith and the John were pulling and sailing vessels ,without engines and relying on the use of sails and oars. Often the lifeboat men would be exhausted by the time they reached a casualty. Until 1913 horses were used to transport the vessel but then it was decided to discontinue this practice and from then until the 1930’s the lifeboat and her carriage were transported by means of manual labour. For the crew travel to the station would not have been easy either. Many of them would have had to walk some considerable distance. Coxwain Andrew Young lived at Ringboy Close. When the call-out rockets went up he harnessed his little donkey into its cart and whipped it along the one-and-ahalf mile stretch of road to the lifeboat station. Yet when the Croisset was wrecked in 1908 forty-five volunteers had mustered at the lifeboat station within fifteen minutes of being called out. Out of these a crew of fifteen was chosen to make the hazardous rescue. Although it was still only 14th November, the Croisset was the sixth ship in distress in the area that season. ON 746 William Maynard which succeeded the John in 1931 was a self- righting motor vessel. She was not a new craft having previously been stationed at Skerries. George Young now became Cloughey lifeboat’s first engineer, a capacity in which he served for many years. In 1934 the RNLI presented Rev. D. Palmer with binoculars and a Letter of Thanks on Vellum for having completed seventeen years as Secretary. By 1936 the committee and crew were: Chairman - Sir Roland Nugent, D.L. Secretary - Rev. D. Palmer Hon. Treasurer - H. W. Maclame (Bank Manager, Portaferry) Coxwain - Robert Young (fifth member of the family in this position) Assistant Coxwain - Samuel Adair

Motor Man - George Young Assistant Motor Man — Samuel Donnan Bowman - Andrew Young (jun) Tractor Engineer - George Drysdale Assistant Tractor Engineer - John Drysdale

The crew of the lifeboat in 1908 after the rescue of the Croisset. From left, front row - Johnny Young, George Drysdale, John Young, Davy John Young, Robert Young. Second row - Andy Young, Bob Young, Andy (Lame) Young. Third row - E. Chapman ( Coastguard Captain), Robbie Young (Coxwain), John Beggs. Back row - Unidentified Coastguards. Note the four horse shafts for towing the lifeboat on her carriage.

In 1937 a fire at the building yard of Messrs Groves and Guttridge of Cowes destroyed a new lifeboat which was waiting to be shipped to Cloughey and it was not until the summer of 1939 that ON 825 Herbert John came on station at Cloughey to replace the William Maynard. Just prior to that, on 9th May 1939, the largest ship to be totally wrecked on the Ards coast, the Arantzazu Mendi of Bilboa, 6,646 gross tons, ran aground on Butter Pladdy off Kearney Point in thick fog. At first there was no risk to the crew, none of whom could speak English, but the ship remained fast for many days. The crew was eventually replaced by an eleven-man salvage team but on 18th June a

storm blew up and the seas became mountainous. Fifteen-foot waves were breaking over the doomed vessel as the lifeboat picked the men from the fore deck where they were knee-deep in water. Coxwain Robert Young was awarded the RNLI Silver Medal and Motor Mechanic George Young the Bronze Medal for their gallantry on this occasion.

1939- Presentation of RNLI Silver and Bronze Medals for the rescue of a salvage crew from the SS Arantzazu Mendi. Standing (from left) - George Drysdale (Tractor Driver) George Young, Robert Young (Coxwain), Hugh Palmer, Lady Abercorn (who made the presentation) George M. Young, Willie Hugh Dr
Seated in front is ‘Lame’ Andy Young who was awarded the RNLI Bronze Medal in 1924

The Dutch vessel SS Athena became the largest total loss in the Cloughey area when she ran on to the North Rock on 28th January 1941. She had been bound from Liverpool for Port Said with British technicians on board and carrying supplies for the Eighth Army. For five days the lifeboat stood by the crippled vessel and eventually took forty-six men ashore including a rating from one of the British destroyers standing by. The most spectacular of all local shipwrecks occurred in the early hours of 21St January 1942. It was pitch dark with a South-easterly gale blowing hail and sleet when the motor coaster Cairngorm ran ashore at Ballyquinton. Cloughey lifeboat was launched at 1.40 a.m. after flares had been spotted, but as she made her way to the stricken vessel, the crew were amazed to find themselves amongst a company of great ships. Some of the men felt that they had strayed into the shipping lanes in the dark but Coxwain Robert Young was sure that it was the ships who were in error. The explanation was simple. Not only had the Cairngorm’s distress flares been seen by the Coastguards but also by HMS Montbretia, a corvette escorting a convoy northwards

from the Mersey. She approached the source of the flares followed blindly by the convoy. The result was that the corvette and four of the freighters, the Asiatic, Bronxville, Browning and Orminster ran aground. Dawn next day revealed the sight of no less than seven ships high and dry from Kearney Point to Ballyquinton Point; six from the previous night and a coaster, the Dorian Rose which had been stranded a few days earlier. The corvette had crashed at the same point where eighteen years earlier the Helgoland had come to grief. Such was the scale of the emergency that Newcastle lifeboat was also called. The crews of most of the ships were in little immediate danger, being so close to land, but the Browning lay further out. For his sterling seamanship in rescuing her crew Paddy Murphy, Coxwain of the Newcastle lifeboat was awarded the RNLI Gold Medal and the BEM. The largest vessel to be wrecked on the Co. Down coast was the troopship Georgetown Victory which was returning from Fremantle to Glasgow with twelve hundred sailors and marines who were due for demobilisation. On a fine night, 30th April 1946, she strayed off course and within a few hours of crashing on to Killard Point at the Southern entrance to Strangford Lough, her back was broken. Again both Cloughey and Newcastle lifeboats were called and all aboard were saved. During a severe storm on Monday, January 30th 1950 the anchor cable of South Rock lightship parted and the motorless vessel with its seven-man crew was in grave danger of being blown on to the Rock. The Herbert John was launched. The storm continued and for long periods the lifeboat stood by the helpless vessel in mountainous seas while the whole Ards held its breath. It was not until four days later that the storm abated and it was possible to retrieve the lightship and bring her crew safely to shore. Coxwain George Young was awarded the RNLI Thanks on Vellum for the rescue. The saddest day in the history of Cloughey lifeboat was Thursday 25th May 1950. It was on that day that Andrew Young, aged seventy-eight, John Young, his brother, aged seventy-five and John’s son Andrew aged twenty-five went out in a yawl to lift lobster pots. They did not return. Coxwain George Young, nephew..... ....of Andrew and John went out in his own boat and carried out an unsuccessful
search around the North Rock. On his return, he arranged for the lifeboat to be called out and at daybreak the next morning the empty boat was found submerged. That day and the next, the bodies of Andrew senior and Andrew junior were found and the entire district was plunged into mourning.

An inquest was held that Saturday in Kirkistown Orange Hall. The jury was made up of the following local men:- David Thompson, local grocer and Secretary of the lifeboat, William Clint, Isaac Kennedy, James Johnston, Robert Kelly, Alexander McNamara, Robert Drysdale, James A. Bell, William A. Coffey, James Ingram and Robert J. Donnan. Most, if not all, of these men would have had great experience and knowledge of the sea. Medical evidence was given by Dr. A. M. Young of Portaferry and Sergeant Wallace represented the police. Two days later Andrew Young, lame from birth, yet hero of so many daring rescues was laid to rest with his young namesake in Cloughey Presbyterian Churchyard only a

stone’s throw from the place where he and his brother had so often launched the lifeboat in which they had rescued so many from the fate which they themselves had suffered. The long cortege included fishermen from Portavogie, Kirkistown, Cloughey, Kircubbin, Ballyhalbert and other parts of the Ards and as it passed along the road through Kirkistown and Cloughey the entire route was lined with mourners.

The crew of the Cloughey Lifeboat in 1950, following the rescue of the crew of South Rock lightship. From left - David Thompson (Hon. Secretary), Alex McNamara, Hugh Palmer, Johnny Gibson, Billy Bell, George M. Young (Coxwain), George Coffey and Sam Adair. This photograph was taken at the door of the Station with the Herbert John in the background In the early hours of 9th August 1952, a few days before her official launch, Cloughey’s last lifeboat ON 902 Constance Calverley was called to the assistance of the cargo liner Lassel which had grounded on the North Rock. This vessel formed a fitting backdrop to the naming ceremony for it was some time before she was able to float off on the next Spring Tide. On the last Saturday of January, 1953 the Constance Calverley, together with other lifeboats on the East coast of Ulster was called out to search for the ill-fated Larne-Stranraer Ferry Princess Victoria which sank in a storm off the Copeland Islands with the loss of one hundred and thirty-three lives. Unfortunately she was unable to pick up any survivors.

1952 - The launch of the Constance Calverley.

In 1955 Coxwain Walter Semple was the recipient of the RNLI Thanks on Vellum after the lifeboat rendered assistance to the Norwegian MV Roskva which ran aground on Burial Island near Ballyhalbert in a storm in the early morning of 21St January that year. To this was added the RNLI Bronze Medal when the lifeboat was called out to the Dutch coaster Frida BIokzLjI which was in danger of drifting ashore near the mouth of Strangford Lough in a South-easterly gale on the afternoon of 7th March 1962. Motor Mechanic George Young received the RNLI Thanks on Vellum while the remainder of the crew received Medal Service Certificates. At that time the Secretary was Mr. S. C. Bryans. In 1965 Cloughey Lifeboat Station was closed and the recently enlarged harbour at Portavogie with its deep anchorage provided a home for the Cloughey Portavogie Lifeboat when ON 857 Glencoe came on station. She remained in Portavogie until 1978 although the Cloughey-Portaferry Station did not officially close untill98l. During the eighty years of the Cloughey Lifeboat she was called out on one hundred and fifty-two rescue missions on which a total of three hundred and eleven lives were saved. The numerous Medals and Diplomas awarded to her crews are tangible proof of the high degree of courage that the local lifeboat men have shown over the years and of which Cloughey people have been justly proud.

Paula Trainor who launched Portaferry Inshore Lifeboat Blue Peter V. FOOTNOTE:- On Wednesday 3rd December 1986, Paula Trainor, aged ten years, a pupil of Kirkistown Primary School had the honour of launching Portaferry’s new Inshore Lifeboat, Blue Peter V. This vessel, an Atlantic 21, was provided by money raised by the children’s TV programme, Blue Peter. Paula’s school friends were present to see her launch the lifeboat with a carton of milk which was felt to be more in keeping with the programme’s image than champagne. Paula was specially chosen for the task because of her descent from the Young family. Andrew Young who won the RNLI Bronze Medal in 1924 was her great, great grand uncle while George M. Young who received the RNLI Bronze Medal in 1939 was her great grand uncle. WARTIME World War II brought changes to the Cloughey-Kirkistown district. Defense in the event of attack was all important. Bollards were erected on the beach to prevent landings from the sea or from the air. An air-raid shelter was constructed beside the school and the Home Guard was formed. The Ministry of Defense cast its eye round the area for a suitable site for an airfield to be built as a satellite to Ballyhalbert Aerodrome which was the biggest in Northern Ireland. They inspected the area known as the Dams behind Slans and Cloughey but the proximity of a fairly high hill might have proved unsafe for aircraft. They finally purchased the farms on the reclaimed part of Kirkistown bog lying between the Kircubbin Road and Portavogie. Local labour was employed w the construction work and the aerodrome opened in July 1941 with three runways and four blister hangars. It was first used by Naval 888 Squadron which moved there from Ballyhalbert on 4th November 1941. From January to June 1942 it was occupied by 504 Squadron RAF using Spitfires for air defense duties. For the following fourteen months it was used as a satellite to Ballyhalbert. Then in August 1943 the Northern Ireland Training School was set up in Kirkistown to train RAF personnel in combat and defense duties. Kirkistown Aerodrome ceased to be a satellite of Ballyhalbert when it was transferred to RAF Northern Ireland for administration purposes. During the war United States Auxiliary Air Force aircraft made frequent visits to Kirkistown airfield. In July 1945 Ballyhalbert and Kirkistown Aerodromes were transferred on loan to the Royal Navy, Kirkistown being commissioned as HMS Corncrake H. It was returned to the RAF in January 1946. After the aerodrome fell into disuse the road linking the Kircubbin Road to Portavogie was reinstated. The section, amounting to approximately a quarter of the airfield, cut off by this operation has ever since been used as Kirkistown Motor Racing Circuit. The remainder has been reclaimed as agricultural land. Few people who lived in the district during the war years will ever forget the changing engine sounds of the historic Spitfires as they soared, dived and looped in training flights, or the rat-tat-tat of their machine guns as they practiced firing at the long white

silken targets towed by other aircraft. What a bonus it was for the civilian population, starved of such luxuries as silk, when one of those same targets broke loose and floated to the ground! The blackout was enforced in country as well as town. There were no street lights in Cloughey and heavy blackout curtains had to be used at night. Car lamps had to be fitted with hoods which would only allow slender slits of light to be seen. These rendered driving unsafe. Petrol was also rationed. Therefore people stayed home at night where possible. Dr. Duff of Portaferry recalls how he almost hit the shore wall at Cloughey several times as he drove to Kirkistown School to take evening classes in First Aid. Food and clothing rationing affected rich and poor, old and young alike. No child who grew up at that time will ever forget the precious value of the little snippet of paper, barely half-an-inch square that would entitle the owner to a quarter of a pound of sweets and without which pocket money was useless. Toys were very scarce and the best that could often be got was a stamped and coloured doll’s face which could be sewn onto a rag doll. These could be purchased in Cloughey from Mrs. Gilles’ shop beside the school or from Annie Young’s shop near the Presbyterian Church. These ladies also sold little packs of dye which could be used to refurbish faded clothing. Flour in those days came in fifty-six pound sacks and these, boiled, bleached and scrubbed of their lettering could be dyed and put to use in a variety of imaginative ways. Milk, orange juice and cod-liver oil were made available to all children, generally in small quantities but nevertheless received by many children who would not have had the chance before 1939. Interest in the health of school children developed and it was during the war years that Dr. Scott, loved, feared and venerated by children and parents alike for many years, began regular visits to Kirkistown and other schools in the Ards and the general state of health of local children improved. A baby clinic was also started in Kirkistown School, an institution which continued until 1975. The first Blitz on Belfast took place on the night of 7th- 8th April 1941. The result was an influx of evacuees to the district. Many came to stay with relatives while mothers and their children took up residence in holiday bungalows. The enrolment at Kirkistown soared. However, teachers were scarce and so this influx had to be catered for without the benefit of additional staff. The war finally came to an end. A crane eventually removed the bollards from the beach and the air-raid shelter at the school was demolished. However it was not until 6th June 1946, the first anniversary of D-Day, that the children were able to celebrate in style. Then the children of Kirkistown School paraded in fancy dress behind a band through the village, had sports on the warren and tea on the grass at Kirkistown Orange Hall. Finally each child was presented with a personal message from King George VI and a half-crown coin. The years of austerity were not yet over but the faces of young and old alike were set towards a brighter future. CHAPTER SEVEN

RECREATIONAL FACILITIES Two local sporting facilities, Kirkistown Castle Golf Course and Kirkistown Motor Racing Circuit have become known throughout the Province, and indeed further airfield as popular venues for important competitions. Kirkistown Motor Racing Circuit The 1.6-mile race circuit at Kirkistown is the only RAC approved race circuit in Northern Ireland. It was opened in 1951 by the 500 Motor Racing Club of Ireland on a section of the disused runways and taxiways of Kirkistown Aerodrome. Over the years the circuit has been gradually improved until today it has extensive spectator facilities including a bar and snackery. Above all, it has been brought up to full safety standards. The annual programme now includes seven race meetings, three sprint meetings and three rally-cross events. The circuit is also rented for other motor- sport events which annually include three motor-cycle races. Kirkistown Castle Golf Club Kirkistown Castle Golf Club was founded in 1902 on land which was leased for a nominal rent from Major-General W. E. Montgomery. It was at that time a nine-hole course. In 1907 the first Club House, which was little more than a wooden hut was erected at a cost of At that time the Captain was Mr. F. Allen and Mr. Iliff of Kircubbin was Secretary. Rev. D. Palmer had just arrived to the district as the new Presbyterian Minister. Shortly afterwards he succeeded as Club Secretary, a position he held for many years. The course was enlarged to a full eighteen holes in 1927 and in 1929 it was remodeled by the green keeper, the late Mr. Frank Polley, on the advice of Mr. James Braid, the famous golfer and golf architect. This greatly improved the course which now had seventy-five bunkers and Kirkistown soon became the venue for important golfing competitions. It is still regarded as one of the four best courses in Ireland, the sandy soil rendering it free-draining and therefore playable in even the worst weather. Because of the course’s increasing popularity it became necessary to have a much better and more suitable Club House. So Mr. W. T. Gilliland, a local architect, who had designed many of the bungalows in Cloughey and Kirkistown, was asked to draw up plans for a new Club House. This took the form of a bungalow-type building in brick and pine which cost just over £1,000. The building was formally opened by the Late Lord Dunleath on Saturday, 24th August, 1936. The Captain at that time was the late Sir Roland Nugent while Mr. 0. S. Netterfield was Secretary. Over the past fifty years the course has retained its popularity. The Club House has been enlarged on several occasions, its facilities now including a restaurant, bar and two full-size snooker tables. Club members have entered and been successful in important competitions.

Lady members of Portaferry, Kirkistown and Millisle Badminton Clubs over thirty years ago. Front Row, from left: Letitia Coffey, Paddy Kyle, Annette McMurray, Muriel Drysdale, Daphne Kimmons, Elizabeth Taylor. Second Row, from left: Myrtle McMurray, Margaret Ellison, Rosemary Elliott, Sally Lyttle, Leila Bailie. Back Row, from left: Kerr Donnan, three Millisle members, Queenie Bailie Margo Shanks, Eleanor Bailie, Ella Shanks.

Kirkistown Pipe Band Kirkistown Pipe Band was formed in October, 1947 by several members of Kirkistown Orange Lodge, LOL 1412. Founder members included David Clint, David Ennis, George Kyle (Sen.) and Billy Palmer.

The first Instructor was Billy Woods, the then Pipe Major of Ballycoan Pipe Band from Purdysburn. The first Pipe Major of Kirkistown was George Kyle (Sen.) who remained into the early fifties. During this time a new Instructor arrived in the person of Sandy McGimpsey who was Pipe Major of Dr. Wright’s Memorial Pipe Band, Newtownards. Mr. Gerard Bell (Sen.) who was fresh out of the army became Pipe Major soon after Mr. McGimpsey’s arrival and under his supervision the band became very competent in marching and discipline, winning seven First Prizes in one year at various Scots Nights. In all the band was a going concern for thirty-six years and won various trophies over the years throughout the country. In the first five years the band’s uniform was a kilt. It was replaced with a military-style uniform. In 1980 a new dress uniform of red McClean tartan was purchased. In the last four years the band had a third Pipe Major, Mr. Paul Greenfield. Two members have remained in the band for the full thirty-six years of its existence. They are Mr. Moore Palmer and Mr. David Bailie. CHAPTER EIGHT MISCELLANEOUS REMINISCENCES Mrs. Currie, our oldest former pupil, recalls a rhyme the pupils repeated in her schooldays: Our wee school’s a nice wee school, It’s built of bricks and plaster, The only thing that’s wrong with it Is the baldy-headed master! Recalling his time as a teach in Kirkistown, Mr. Ivan Beckett told the present pupils: “My wooden classroom was heated by a large round iron stove which burnt coke or anthracite. It was a very temperamental stove indeed and I will always remember it well. On some quite mild days it burned fiercely and grew red-hot so that the windows had to be opened as wide as possible, and then on a cold, frosty day it might decide to go out without warning and we all had to do ‘physical exercises’ to keep ourselves warm. The stove had a cast-iron chimney-pipe which went through a hole in the wooden tar-felted roof. On one memorable day the chimney became over-heated and the wooden roof caught fire. Naturally there was a great deal of excitement among the pupils, but the Portaferry Fire Brigade was quickly on the scene and very soon after the danger was over without too much damage being done”. Mrs. Wilson recollected: “When my late husband, Mr. James Wilson, was appointed Principal of Kirkistown P.E.S. in 1942, the main building was, as at present, situated on the main Cloughey Road with two large windows looking out to sea, and surrounded on two sides by the Kirkistown Golf Links. Hence the little verse:

The Golf Links lie so near the school, That almost every day The working children can look out And see the men at play!” Mrs. Wilson went on to recall how:" By the time I started teaching in Kirkistown the enrolment had risen to 103, about half being evacuees. An Inspector once called, and I had 63 pupils packed everywhere—some sitting on the floor on their schoolbags, other sitting on the stove (it was a lovely summer day!).” During the 1940’s pupils were permitted to go at lunch time to Keene’s shop where they could buy a few slices of bread and butter and a cup of tea for four old pence. Sometimes, if they were lucky, they would have jam on the bread, but food was rationed and this did not often happen. Until traffic on the Main Road became too dangerous, the pupils were allowed to play on the Warren and on the beach at lunch time. These made ideal play areas. The Warren was great for football and hide-and-seek while the beach provided the ideal place for such games as hop-scotch. The state of the tide changed from day-to-day while the Burn would be in full spate after rain and dwindle to a mere trickle during dry weather. There were crabs, limpets, whelks and jelly-fish to be found. In Mr. McQuitty’s time the pupils were permitted to walk as far as the sinking sands which lay below the far end of the Warren. One of Mr. McQuitty’s sons, who also taught in the school, used to slip over the wall at lunch time and have a game of golf. During the war years, when clothing was rationed and could only be purchased in exchange for coupons, a visitor would occasionally call at the school to measure the pupils’ feet. Those children whose feet had reached or surpassed some magical criterion were awarded an additional supply of coupons much to the disappointment of those whose feet were not big enough! In Mr. McQuitty’s time, if all the work was finished by 2.30 p.m., the older children were allowed out to work as caddies on the Golf Course. For this they were paid about one shilling per session. In anticipation of the relief of Ladysmith in 1899, many bonfires had been prepared in advance. When news reached the people of Kirkistown that Ladysmith had been relieved, Mrs. Currie’s father woke up his children at about ten o’clock that February evening and took them out to see the lighting of the bonfires. The family did not return home until after two o’clock the next morning. Mrs. Currie also remembers a little rhyme from that period: Lord Roberts and Kitchener, Generals Butler and White, Marched down to the Transvaal Every Saturday night.

At Cloughey Sunday School in the early 1900’s the children came out to see the lifeboat being launched. When Sunday School started they had to sing “Throw out the life-line across the dark wave”. Later, during the church service, the congregation sang “Eternal Father, strong to save”. Another diversion, prior to Sunday School starting, was to look around for a grave which had been opened prior to a Sunday burial. The children looked into the grave to count the bones of previous burials! An earlier church organist, Mr. David McVea, walked from Portavogie every Sunday to play the organ in Cloughey Presbyterian Church. Mr. Andy Young—”Lame Andy”—is remembered as a kindly old gentleman who propelled his wheelchair around Cloughey and w always had a kind word for the schoolchildren More recent pupils recall Andy Ferris, the patrolman, who always seemed to have a great supply of sweets in his pocket which he handed out after seeing the children safely across the Quarter Road. Mr. Patton recalls the summer that the house-martins built their nests under the eaves above the school windows. Frank Adair removed the nests because of the mess on the window ledges. That winter Frank broke his leg and he said it was because he had disturbed the house-martins.

A Cloughey MBE

Captain James A. Bell who was awarded the MBE for the part he played in the location and rescue of survivors from the Lame-Stranraer Ferry Princess Victoria which sank off the Copeland Islands in a severe storm on Saturday, 31st January, 1953 with the loss of 133 lives.

Captain Bell was on that occasion Master of the cargo ferry Lairdsmoor, owned by the Belfast Steamship Company. One of a line of sailor he was born grew up in and spent almost all of his life in Cloughey. SOURCES Journals of Upper Ards Historical Society, Portaferry Francis Savage-Armstrong — The Ancient and Noble Family of the Savages of the Ards, 1886 Francis Savage-Armstrong — History of the Savage Family in Ulster, 1908 E. R. R. Green — The Industrial Archaeology of Co. Down, 1963 Walter Harris — Ancient and Present State of the County of Down, 1744 Preliminary Survey of Ancient Monuments of Co. Down, 1940 Archaeological Survey of Co. Down, 1966 D. J. Smith — Action Stations Bassett’s Directory, Co. Down, 1886 Historical Monuments in Northern Ireland, 1983 Rev. J. O’Laverty — Diocese of Down and Connor, Volume I, 1878 Ian Wilson — Shipwrecks of the Ulster Coast, 1979 R. S. J. Clarke — Gravestone Inscriptions, Volumes 12 and 14, 1974-5 Mourne Observer — Sailing Ships of Mourne, 1971 Archives of: Newtownards Chronicle North Down Spectator Down Recorder Belfast Telegraph Belfast Newsletter Northern Whig Records of Cloughey Lifeboat Grant Aid Applications and other material relating to National Schools stored in the Public Records Office for Northern Ireland.

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