My Days at Dreenan School

I started Dreenan School in 1951. My mother had died a few months before so I was accompanied by Rose McPeake from Carnaman. Starting school was a great comfort to me because I was making friends as I was lonely because I was an only child.
I was taught by Miss Mooney. I remember clearly counting on the counters, they were brightly coloured balls on a frame and it was on them that I learned to add and subtract. The curriculum was Reading, Arithmetic, Tables, Knitting, Art and I loved Singing ,Poetry and Writing. We were taught to write with nibed pens and ink and the writing had to be perfect. When I progressed into the `Big Room` I was taught by Miss Boyle who retired after a short period, then Mr Brown, Miss Emily McErlean, Miss Sally Young and Miss Josie Kelly all taught me. Finally along came Master Breen.

With all these teachers the curriculum was Arithmetic, Tables, Geography, English, P.E., Nature Studies and Art. I remember Hugh Costello who was a great artist. Master Breen was a great Gaelic footballer and he took the boys to Frank McCloy’s field just a few fields away from my home in Corrabrock. The girls were not left out all the same. We played rounders,which was really exciting for us.
Then in 1958 there was great excitement for all of us at school when the Derry team went to Croke Park for the All Ireland final. I was glued to Michael O’Hehir on that Sunday that the game was played. He was on Radio Eireann . We were disappointed for Derry when they did not win the game but Master Breen was a winner in our eyes.
I loved the school party when Harry Canning from Maghera brought us sandwiches and wee iced buns. There was no school canteen, in those days, we had to bring our own tea cup and plate.

Dreenan Primary School and its wonderful teachers, past and present and also its pupils, past and present include my mother, aunts, uncles and cousins. The O’Kanes and the Burkes from 1905 deserve this acknowledgement.
I wish to thank the hard working committee, who over the months put this reunion together. This little poem, which I was taught at Dreenan School is dedicated to all.


`Give to me the life I love,
Let the lave go by me,
Give the jolly heaven’s above,
And the by way nigh me,
Bed in the bush with stars to see,
Bread I dip in the river-,
There’s the life for a man like me,
There’s the life forever,

Let the blow fall soon or late,
Let what will be o’er me,
Give the face of earth around,
And the road before me,
Wealth I seek not, hope nor love,
Nor a friend to know me,
All I seek, the heaven above,
And the road below me.`

Robert Louis Stevenson