Thoughts Of My Primary Days

Memories of my early years at Dreenan Primary School are predominantly of being very much spoiled by the affection and kindness of the older pupils - Ann O’Kane gave me my first brooch, Bridie and Josephine Boyle bought me a beautiful pair of Rosary Beads, Martin O’Kane gave me a biro, which actually worked, none that I previously owned ever did, while Marie McKee gave me endless `piggy back` rides around the school play-ground.

These glorious days pre-dated the opening of Clady College. Its opening left me as one of the older pupils to welcome the new recruits. Furthermore I had advanced to the `big room` where we were to be taught by Mrs Philomena Diamond.

Without warning, one morning, we were amazed at the arrival of new pupils. Ballymacpeake Primary School had closed, the pupils and their teacher Mrs McErlane, had transferred to Dreenan. Suddenly our numbers had doubled and we had new class-mates, among whom were to become some of my firmest friends.

Being in the `big room` brought with it `responsibilities` - the daily journey to Rankins for the fresh bucket of water was a great treat for the privileged pupils as was the dispatch to the Parochial House with documents from Mrs Diamond to Rev. Fr. Maguire P.P. Being one of the dispatched I remember we were always accompanied by a member of the Diamond family and with the great wisdom of hindsight I now realise that was a form of insurance for us others - if we were too long about our task, or involved in any mischief en route, it was the Diamond member who copped the brunt of the punishment!!

Being appointed to deliver the Far East to Angela Convery was a much sought after `responsibility` as you were always sure of a cinnamon sweet for your efforts!

Treats exclusive to the male pupils were requests by Tommy or Felix Rankin to help `cap the cattle` or carry grass-seed behind Tommy as he sowed with the `fiddle`. These were much sought after jobs as they carried a monetary reward with no one being a more willing helper than my brother Pakie as he enjoyed jingling his pockets on the walk home from school to provoke a jealous response from me.

Although I have left my Dreenan days long behind me in time, they float back in Technicolor when I occasionally hear the strains of that old song `Nobody’s Child` and I remember and see with clarity, the wet play-times as we sat inside and Lucy Hamill sang her sweet song.

Jacinta Duggan