For anyone passing through Ballynahinch recently the demolition
of Assumption Grammar School's building will have been hard
The graceful buildings that once looked down almost serenely
on the town have been reduced to rubble.
Grammar School during refurbishment in 2004
I decided to return to the school where I was once a pupil
to discover the reasons for the drastic overhaul and what
Mrs Crae, the school's headmistress also attended the school
as a pupil and seemed an ideal person to ask regarding the
school's future. Mrs Crae informed me that the Department
of Education and the trustees of the school made the decision
to reconstruct the building.
“ better facilities are needed to keep up to date
with the demands of the curriculum, the growing numbers
of pupils and the quality of the building.”
Practically speaking then the major work being done to Assumption
seems to make sense. However it is not without some degree
of sadness as Mr Leonard, an established teacher and one who
taught myself, expresses.
“ There’s a sadness in the demise of the physical
building and at the same time excitement and hope at the
prospect of a new building, for a new era and a new generation.”
The Loss of The Convent
By far the saddest part of this evolution Assumption is undergoing
is the demolition of the convent. The school and the convent
have gone hand in hand since its opening in 1933.
It was a sister of the Assumption Order who founded the whole
school, hence its name. The Assumption Sisters began their
mission in South Africa in 1849 and one of the members who
became the General Superior was actually from outside Ballynahinch.
Sister Mary Baptist felt that there was a need for a really
good school for the girls of the area.
Sister Mary had a dual purpose in mind when she founded the
school, which further emphasises how the Convent and the school
have always been intertwined. Firstly she aimed to provide
a good education for the young women of the locality and also
with the hope that it would instil a missionary spirit among
them. A spirit that would encourage the pupils to help the
Assumption sisters with their work in Africa and a spirit
to generally help the underprivileged of our society.
I interviewed Sister Maureen who was the headmistress of the
school when I went there and who was actually there when the
school was built in 1970. Although Sister Maureen is sad at
the demolition of the Convent in particular she recognises
it as necessary to the continued development and progress
of Assumption as a whole.
She had this to say:
“ I’ve been so involved in the education side
of Assumption that I could see and I knew it was for the
progress of the school and for the development of the whole
education facility. So from that point of view I supported
it 100% and I know it is to provide something better for
The Sisters of the Assumption moved out a month ago to a
new home on the Crossgar Road, Ballynahinch but they are still
the trustees of the school and ultimately responsible for
what the school does.
In Sister Maureen's words:
“ We say we’ve moved house but we haven’t
moved away from Assumption."
The Renewal will be Positive
So it appears that everyone is in agreement over the fact
that the redevelopment of Assumption will be a positive thing.
However there is one outstanding issue to be resolved. Assumption
will not be the same school without a new chapel and yet the
education authority will not be financing one.
It is now up to the school and the Assumption Sisters as
trustees of the school to raise the money required to build
a new chapel and to ensure that both important elements of
an education from Assumption are maintained. An excellence
in education certainly but a missionary spirit that is very
much needed in the world we live in today.
If anyone would like to donate money towards the worthwhile
construction of a new chapel at Assumption they should contact
Sister Maureen at their new home on the Crossgar Road or contact
the school itself. Any help will be gratefully received.
Louise - June '08
I am currently a 4th year pupil at Assumption Grammar and I am very pleased to say that the main building and the gym have been renovated. They look much smarter and it has made a huge difference to the atmosphere inside the school community. Everyone has been very excited and teachers and pupils alike are enjoying the changes. Even though Mrs Crea is retiring I'm sure our new Headmaster Mr McBride will provide us girls with all the support and help Mrs Crea has.
Anon - Feb '08
mrs crea is such an inspiration 2 me-she works so hard 2
get us a new school which she can't afford and yet she works
her fingers 2 the bone 2 make sure we get the best start
in life!!!wat a great woman sheshud b awarded...such an incredible
woman and she should be applauded 4 her kind heartedness
jenny - Feb '08
I am a first year at the school now and i love it but i
find it hard enough finding my way round now a new school
to get lost in lol
Marie Campbell, California
I attended Assumption 1964-70, and was pleased to hear that
the school is being remodeled. The old school was a warren
of small dark rooms and narrow corridors and and the new science/art
building, built I believe in 1966, was bright and modern by
contrast. When I attended, there were only around 330 students
and I believe that is nearer 1000 today. Sister Jarleth was
Head during those days, a fomidable lady with a quick temper.
I am Director of a private school in California and when sometimes
when I am looking for direction, I often draw on the sensibilty
and simplicity of my formal education in Ballynaninch.
Orla - Oct 05
currently I am a 2nd year student attending the school and
am pleased that the school is undergoing this much needed
rebuilding. Although it is a great thing that is happening
it has some down sides such as in the past couple of weeks
there have been spottings of rats and mice (eeeewwwwww), and
of course the church has been knocked down but currantly the
school is planning a christmas fair to raise money for the
school as well as cariing on the old traditions of 'The Christmas
Charities' and 'The Shoe boxes' which will be sent to Romania.
Before i leave i would like to say thank you to Mrs Crea and
the english department for recently organising the annual
'Drama Festival'. It is a brilliant school and deserves all
the funding it can get.
Hayley - June '05
I agree wholeheartedly with Nina. I too am a very recent past
pupil and cannot be live that after years of willing a new
and improved school it is only when i leave that my dream
become a reality. However, i have realised that it was not
the building that made the school but the pupils and teachers
who always gave the school such an amazing spirit.
Assumption provided me with a great education true friends
and many many happy memories. The spirit and attitude within
those walls helped make me the person i am and I will always
be very grateful for this. So whilst i may be sad and somewhat
jealous of the pupils who will benefit fro this new school
I understand that the only thing that should remain intact
is the schools spirit. I therefore wish all those who walk
the halls of this new school to embrace it while they can
and keep up the assumption way.
Charlotte Bryce - June '05
I am very sad to see the old convent now reduced
to rubble...I spent many happy days there from 1958 to 1965...I
would like to get in touch with any girls from that era.
Revd Wendy Jackson - May 05
I was a pupil at Assumption Convent in Woodlands in Durban
SA (Wendy Jacobs) I now live in England am a Priest in the
Church of England and wonder if there are any Sisters in UK
who may remember me? (I did know a A Sr Maureen in Durban-
is this the same person?) and I'd so love to be in contact
with them again. Best wishes on the new development, Wendy
Laura - May 05
As a current pupil in the assumption, i can't wait until the
school is done! It should look well, and be a lot safer for
Pauline - May '05
I've been reading the article about the school and noticed
that somebody named Brenda had commented, i had a friend in
first year who had to move down south and im wondering if
its her? if you can, please contact me on my email, (through
YPAM ) it'd be great to hear from you, its been ages! oh and
i think the proposal for the new school is great, although
i wont be here to see it! im leaving soon.
Brenda - April 05
I am a past pupil of the assumption and i have great memories
of it i only got to go for a year in first year and then i
moved downsouth i am now in my last year of school but i still
remember the days i spend there as if it was yesterday but
i think its really cool that its getting rebuilt cause for
a while it was a danger o walk up the stairs.
Nina - December - '04
As a past pupil of Assumption, I was quite saddened to hear
of the destruction of the school, however also rather envious,
I have only left recently and recall deeming the school a
'deathtrap' with my friends. So of course I was very jealous
to hear that despite attending the school for seven years
and making hundreds of disparaging remarks about the state
of the grounds each year it is only now that the school is
Despite this my years at Assumption were fantastic and I am
pleased to hear that the school is finally getting the appropriate
facilities it deserves. My biggest hope is that future pupils
and teachers alike make as many happy memories in this new
school as I have from the old.
N obody has commented on this site in ages, i just left the
school in june 2007. i hated it while i was there. i always
thought it was too strict and they worked us too hard, but
i see t all differently now! im away at uni now and i mis
it sssooo badly. they really were the best years, the teachers
were amazing nd so down to earth! its being remodelled now
but im sure assumption will never loose the spirit and atmosphere
it had when i was there 2000-2007!