Former Mullaghdubh pupil Lilian shares memories of 100 year-old school

Flowers were presented to former pupil Lilian Sturdy by Leah Cambridge and Kurtis Forsythe after a talk she gave during the Mullaghdubh Primary School 100th birthday celebrations. INLT 46-306-PR

Flowers were presented to former pupil Lilian Sturdy by Leah Cambridge and Kurtis Forsythe after a talk she gave during the Mullaghdubh Primary School 100th birthday celebrations. INLT 46-306-PR

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One of the oldest past pupils of Mullaghdubh Primary has been recalling her early years at the Islandmagee school which celebrates its centenary this year.

Ninety-two-year-old Lilian Sturdy was invited to join pupils and staff to mark the landmark anniversary on November 5.

Lilian was enrolled at the Middle Road school when she was four-years-old. She had to walk a mile from her home at Upper Gransha in Islandmagee.

There were two rooms and two teachers, Miss Baird and Mr Doughty.Lilian’s teacher, Miss Baird taught four classes.

“She was all right to me, She came from Co Tyrone and lodged with a local woman, Mrs Kane. I went across to her house at lunchtime and brought her dinner back to school in a basket,” recalled Lilian.

In the classroom, reading, writing and arithmetic were the order of the day, for young Lilian, whose maiden name was Ross.

The children wrote with pencils before learning to write in copybooks using pens with nibs.

Lunch for Lilian was an “Oxo” cube every day supplied by her mother and mixed with boiling water at school. Others would have had bread and butter.

“We always got homework but not an awful lot.

“Miss Baird was strict but she was very nice. I thought that Mr Doughty was very hard though,” Lilian recalled.

“He used to bring in apples from his garden and threw them for us to scramble for.

“He gave out one medal every year for the person who got the highest marks in their exams. I got it in 1929. He usually gave a silver medal, but that year, it was gold. I thought it was great. I still have it.”

When Lilian was nine-years-old, she transferred to Mullaghbuoy Primary, where she saw rats coming through the floor and eating lunches from schoolbags.

“Mullaghbuoy was very run down. That was why Ballypriormore was built.”

Lilian attended Ballypriormore before transferring to school in Whitehead until she reached the leaving age of 14.

“When I got my leaving certificate, I went to Carrick Tech. I left at the age of 16 and worked in a shop until I got married.

“I enjoyed my schooldays. I was sorry when I had to leave.

“I was pleased to be asked to come back. I must be one of the oldest former pupils left. I had a lovely day. I had not been back to the school. It now has an extension. It was not that size when I was there.”