Ballywilly National School

Records available in the Public Records Office Northern Ireland indicate that an application was made to the Commission of Education for Aid provided for the Fitting up of Schools, The Paying of Teachers and the Obtaining of School Requisites in respect of a school in the townland of Ballywilly. The application, which was made around 1833, states that the school was established in 1829. It was built by Charles Atkinson Esquire. It cosmists of two rooms each 18 feet by 13 apparently on two stories. The building was built with stone and lime and had a thatched roof. The master and mistress live in the school house apparently in two other rooms. They are a husband and wife Roger and Elizabeth McCann. They are recognised by the Kildare Place Society and a contribution is made to the teacher’s salary by the London Hibernian Society.

(It is noted that in the 1926 survey of schools a Roger and Hannah McCann are listed as teachers of Kilmore School.)

The application was signed in the format required, which included religious affiliation, as follows:

Protestants Catholics
Benjamin Hampton Patrick Mc Cann
Robert Hampton Bernard McGonnell
John Atkinson Patrick Hagan
Thomas Dugall Francis Smith
Presbyterian Congregation Vinecash PP Kilmore

In 1845 a further application was made. A report from the Superintendent of National Schools was made to the Board following an inspection of the school on 25 July 1845 This states that the school was formerly in connection with the Board which might indicate that some difficulty had arisen which ended the earlier association. The report gives 1830 as the date when the school was established. The form recording the inspection follows the same headings as the earlier 1830 form of application in many respects but whereas the 1830 application sought grant aid for furniture as well as books and salary this application is for teacher’s salaries and books only. The patrons of the school during its former association with the Board are stated to be aware of and to approve of this application. The application was made by Mr John Greer of Lurgancot who is described as Manager and Rev Patrick Quinn, PP Kilmore who is described as the Correspondent. The inspector indicated that they represented the Established Church and the Roman Catholic Church respectively in accordance with the Board’s requirements. The inspector saw fit, in recommending that the school should receive a grant to state that the “Rev Mr Quinn” had complained about interference in religious matters in schools which Catholic children had to go to because of the lack of a National School The nearest National School was at Ballinahinch – 2 ½ miles away. However the report states that there were other “schools for the poor” at Kilmore, Annahugh, Loughgall and Ballinteggart. It is likely that these schools were under the control of the Established Church or, were funded or part funded by, organisations such as The Kildare Place Society, the London Hibernian Society or The Erasmus Smith Trust. The Catholic Church was wary of an element of prosletysing which arose in some schools.

The teacher is named as James Garvey** aged 35 years. He trained under the Kildare Place Society and had the certificate of the Society. He had been a National School teacher in Mullantine School for five years. At the time of the inspection the school had been in operation for just six weeks, there were 73 children on the books and all were present on the day of the inspection but the average daily attendance for the six weeks was 54.

** Subsequent entries reveal that James Garvey retired on 7 June 1858 “being incapacitated by infirmity” According to the records he was succeeded by Francis Nugent
who served until 1871 and was in turn succeeded by Henry Lee who served until 1901.

This inspector’s report was submitted to the Board on 28 July 1845, referred to a sub-committee on 13 August and the school taken into connection by the Board on 4 September 1845. From that time the Parish priest of Kilmore Parish has had a lead role in the management of the local primary school.

The school continued to operate on the Ballywilly site until 1869. This is an assumption based on entries in the register of Board orders and correspondence maintained by the Commission for National Schools. This register records references to school inspector’s reports, average attendance, matters concerning teacher performance and availability of books. The following entries seem to lead to a change of site around 1869.

  • 11 Feb1859: Change of House sanctioned
  • 12 Sept. 1864: provide larger schoolroom
  • 11 July 1867: Report as to unsuitability of the house
  • 12 January: Change of HO sanctioned
  • 24 October 1874: On rep: Out Offices to be provided
  • 3 Feb 1877: enclose premises want of out offices.

The following much later note confirms the move to Ballyhegan:

24 January 1888
Manager having applied to have the name of the school changed to Ballyhegan.Informed that the change of name of a long established National School would be attended in this office with considerable inconvenience. Hence the commissioners arediscinclined to make changes unless under very exceptional  circumstances.