TEACHING IN DREENAN SCHOOL

I started teaching in Dreenan Public Elementary School in February 1949 and remained there until June 1950, when Miss Boyle returned after a long illness. It was a two teacher school, Miss Mooney was the Assistant teacher, Fr, McGlynn, the school manager arranged for me to stay with Angela Convery who lived beside the school. Angela had an interest in the school as her Aunt, Miss Dinnen was the Principal there prior to Miss Boyle. Angela lived alone so it was a meeting place for all the neighbours or better known as `a Ceilidhe House` . Crowds gathered into Angelaís house at night, especially Sunday nights. Songs were sung, jokes went round and the craic was good. Angela was very hospitable and no one went away without a cup of tea. I spent many happy evenings in her home. Sadly those days are gone, Angela is dead, the house is deserted and the only remaining memory is the `pump` in the street.

On my first day in Dreenan School I was greeted by Miss Teresa Mooney. She was pleasant and helpful and introduced me to all the pupils, as it was a two teacher school there were usually three or four members of the same family in the classroom. All the children walked to school and some of them lived quite a distance from the school. They were a very pleasant, gentle and friendly bunch. There were about thirty pupils in each room, classes ranged from Junior Infants to seventh standard.

Like all rural schools in those days the resources were very basic. The walls were adorned with a few tattered maps from which the pupils learned about their own country and further afield. Great emphasis was placed on the 3 `R` s . First period in the day was the R.E. lesson. Fr. McGlynn or Fr. McMenamin called weekly during the R.E. lesson. Mr Hill, the Ministry Inspector strolled in occasionally, asked the pupils a few questions looked at their copy books and was always pleased with their performance.

These children were diligent, well disciplined and co-operative. It was a pleasure to teach them. Most children stayed at school until they were 14 years old. Some did the qualifying exam or the Review at 12+. Girls who were successful went to Magherafelt Convent, while few boys pursued their education any further as St. Columbís College Derry was their main Grammar School. Comprehensive Schools were virtually unknown in the early fifties. Some sat the Technical Exam at 13+.

Those days in Dreenan School, and now so distant, I recall with pleasure and affection. I am glad to know that the school is now a home occupied by a past pupil, Tommy Rankin, and his family.

The teachers and the priests I have mentioned are dead `Go ndeana Dia Trocaire orthu` I hope all the pupils that I taught in Dreenan are alive and well and it is my one great desire to meet each and every one of them again.

MARGARET McGUIGAN (McCORMACK)

1949 - 1950