‘End of an era’ for ‘parish landmark’

St Anthony's Primary School, pupils Kara, Molly and Christopher take a trip down memory lane ahead of a celebration event for the school. (INLV2115-067KDR) photo: Ken Reay.
St Anthony's Primary School, pupils Kara, Molly and Christopher take a trip down memory lane ahead of a celebration event for the school. (INLV2115-067KDR) photo: Ken Reay.

Former staff and pupils of St. Anthony’s P.S. will gather this evening to mark the ‘end of an era’.

The Bellarena school will close at the end of the term and, while Principal Marie Bradley said it is an “emotional time” for staff and the school’s 13 pupils, she said it is also the start of a new chapter for everyone.

“It is an emotional time but, as life goes on, there are changes and we all have to adapt to those changes. So, yes it’s a sad time, but I’ve told the children this is the start of a new chapter and it’s another opportunity,” said Mrs Bradley.

Regarding the future use of the building, a Department of Education spokesperson said: “The Trustees are owners of the school and are, therefore, responsible for its future. The Trustees will be required to liaise with the Department as some clawback may be appropriate in respect of grants paid over the years to the school.”

A spokesperson for the Council for Catholic Maintained Schools (CCMS) said the building and adjacent land will resort back to the trustee, the Catholic Church, and the school’s contents will be utilised in other schools.

Magilligan Parish Priest, Fr. Frank O’Hagan said the parish becomes responsible for the “protection” of the school from June 30th until further notice.

“Before the Parish can take full possession of the premises, the Department of Education may seek a ‘clawback’ of the monies spent on the school over the last 59 years. We now await contact from that Department before we can move forward. To date,

we have had a few interested queries about the sale, lease or hire of the school as a workable premises, but we cannot

move on this until we hear from the Department.

“The school has been a Parish landmark for the last 59 years. We, as a parish, would hope that it will be put to good use in the near future, so that it will continue with its ‘landmark’ status for many years to come.”

A celebration evening, including a mass starting at 7.30pm, will be held at St. Anthony’s P.S. this evening.