MY DAYS AT DREENAN

I transferred from Ballymacpeake school around 1965. There were four pupils in the same class - a substantial increase on one. At first I travelled to school with Mrs McErlane. The old lady was not the best timekeeper in the world and I would usually get in about 10.00a.m. This was ok until winter set in and waiting in the cold, wet and windy weather did not appeal. I remember getting a lift a couple of mornings with the milkman before it was arranged that I travel with Mrs Diamond. With all the Diamond family and a few Downeys space was at a premium in the MK 2 Cortina. It was just as well seat belts were not compulsory at that time.

I was taught for a few years by Mrs McErlane before transferring to the senior section and Mrs Diamond. I remember the small bottles of milk delivered each day which on cold days were warmed beside the fire. Every day two pupils went to Rankins for a bucket of drinking water. It was not the best equipped school in the country - no mains water or electricity. As for toilets the less said the better.

Each lunch time was spent playing in the playground - usually football. How nobody got killed following the ball onto the road I donít know.

I remember one day going on an adventure led by Jim McErlean through the moss towards Carnaman. We all got a severe caning for being late back and were punished by being kept in at lunchtime for weeks afterwards, but given parole after one or two days.

After transferring to Mrs Diamond classroom Mrs McErlane retired and a concert was held in Ballymacpeake old school in her honour. I remember this took several meetings to arrange. All the talented pupils in the school did a turn including Joseph Diamond who joined a group at the last moment, but forgot to tuck in his shirt tail until he reached the stage.

When I reached P6 or 7 I was allowed to walk home with Henry Downey and Joseph Diamond. One day on our way home we uncovered a pile of mineral bottles not returned to the shop. We were able to collect 6d deposit per bottle in Barney Birts and keep ourselves in sweets for weeks.

I left Dreenan in 1971 to go to St. Pats. After being used to a school of 30 or so pupils I found it a terrifying experience but thankfully survived to tell the tale.

I have always felt that my time at Dreenan provided me with a good start in life and do not honestly remember an unhappy day there. I always remember the cheery face of Tommy Rankin driving past many times each day on his tractor never forgetting to wave and Paddy Heffron riding his bike (or was it a moped).

Unfortunately we cannot bring back those carefree days but I think it is a great idea to have a reunion and I look forward to meeting people I havenít seen in many years.

PAT JOE HUGHES

1965 - 1971