Eden Primary School, Ballymacpeake, Portglenone
County Derry, Northern Ireland
Eden Primary School was a small rural educational establishment on the Ballymacpeake Road. It was on the left hand side if you were going towards Clady, just past Alfie Brown’s out-houses and before Harper York’s. It was approximately four miles from Portglenone.
Eden Primary School, 1942. Back Row: Teacher (Unknown), Robert Porter, Richie Mulholland, Fennie Yorke, Sadie Riddell , —– Downing, Lottie Mulholland. Front Row: Sammy Porter, John Yorke, Martha Armstrong, Lottie Riddell, Sammy Mulholland & William Armstrong. Kneeling: George Riddell & Stanley Mulholland
Photo and names: Harry Armstrong
EXTRACT FROM THE ORDANCE SURVEY MEMOIRS 1830-1837
“Eden London Hibernian Society School is 5 miles from Kilrea on the by-road leading from Maghera to Portglenone; house slated, stands 1-storey, 29 feet by 18 feet in the clear, 1 door, 7 windows, school requisites limited; established 1825; income: average gratuity from London Hibernian Society 4 pounds, from pupils 8 pounds; intellectual education: books published by the London Hibernian Society; moral education: visited by the parochial clergy of the Established Church, no catechism taught; number of pupils: males 44 under 10 years of age, 30 from 10 to 15, 12 above 15, 86 total males; females 52 under 10 years of age, 25 from 10 to 15, 8 above 15, 85 total females; 171 total pupils, 37 Protestants, 27 Presbyterians, 51 Roman Catholics, 56 other denominations; master Samuel Clarke, Presbyterian.”
It is very difficult to imagine this tiny County Derry school in the 1830s, a single room of only 18 feet by 29 feet, being able to accommodate 171 pupils. Indeed, it is hard to imagine where one would find such numbers of students in such a rural location.
My father, Richard Mulholland (seen in the 1942 photo above, with his brothers Samuel and Stanley, and sister: Lottie) did not complete his education at Eden Primary School.
On accidentally dropping and breaking his ink-well (the ink-well sat in a hole on the front corner of the old wooden desks), splattering the floor in ink, my father feared the repercussions from the strict regime (the female teacher was apparently quite strict), and pre-empted any potential caning, by setting off at some considerable pace for home.
According to family folklore, he ran the entire half-mile home, without stopping. And that was the end of his education. He never went back.
After it’s closure, the school’s old wooden desks (which were given away) were still to be found, in local homes, in the 1960s and 70s.