Ulster Folk & Transport Museum

Ballydown National School

Rural Area - Discovery Farm 53

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This is an original building. The school was built in 1865 and originally stood beside Ballydown Presbyterian Church, near Banbridge County Down. It was dismantled and moved to the Folk Museum in 1980.

The National School system was established in 1831. It had two main aims - making most of the population literate and educating children of all religious denominations together.

The Ballydown School is typical of contemporary national schools built in this period. The building conforms to an architectural school plan published in 1858 by the Commissioners of National Education, for use by local groups in receipt of funds.

The Ballydown National School has one classroom, heated by a single fireplace. There are high positioned windows on either side of the room.

Education was regimented. Some children stood at the front of the room reciting their lessons. The rest of the class sat at their desks working at writing or arithmetic exercises.

Discipline could be very strict with the frequent use of the cane as a punishment. However a basic education was provided free of charge for which many pupils were grateful. The school usually had between one and two teachers. Master William Thompson Gilmore was the school principal for most of the period between 1871 until 1911.

Ballydown school was built to accommodate 100 children on the rolls. The desk accommodation seems minimal for 100 pupils but it would be only on rare occasions that all 100 children would be present because of illness, truancy, duties of work and other factors.

Ballydown School closed as a school in 1939.