Emma becomes family’s fourth generation at Long Tower Primary school
A child’s first day at school is always special, but it was somewhat more so for young Emma Hill recently.
The five-year-old became the fourth generation in her family to attend Long Tower Primary School and one of over 50 family members who have crossed over its doors through the years.
The first generation to attend was now 88-year-old Margaret McLoone, nee McIvor, who started at the school in September 1936. She is Emma’s great-grandmother and was followed by her daughter Marian Moore - Emma’s grandmother -(65), nee McLoone, who commenced her school days in September 1959. Her daughter Amanda Moore, now Amanda Hill (44) started Long Tower Primary School in September 1982, followed by her daughter, Emma, last month.
As you can imagine, each of the women who went before Emma and paved a path for her, have their own fond and unique memories of their days in the school.
Margaret, who grew up in Hoggs Folly, was one of 11 children, all of whom attended the school. She attended the then Long Tower Girls School, located on the chapel ground and recalled using slate and chalk during lessons, as well as the fire in the classroom being topped up with coal and turf to keep the room warm.
Margaret can remember bringing her gas mask to school, so that the teachers could help demonstrate how to put the mask on correctly and quickly in World War 2.
Margaret is delighted that three further generations have followed her: “I’m proud that through the generations we still have connections with the school and are part of its long-standing history.”
Her daughter, Marian, grew up in Upper Bennett Street and is the first born of 11 children. She also attended the all girls school and remembers her first teacher Mrs Gibson fondly. She was also taught by the late Mimi Pederson in P3 and said she was a wonderful teacher.
Mrs Pederson went on to become the Principal of St Cecilia’s Secondary School in Derry. She also remembers Miss Brothers who taught her at the school. She was a newly qualified teacher at the time and she occasionally still sees her and stops to chat at Sunday Mass in the Long Tower Chapel.
Marian said she remembers the smell of the turf in winter. The smell of burning turf takes her back to her school days. She also had fond memories of the Feis. Coming from a musical family and with the school being renowned for its musical talents, the Derry Feis was a big event. She remembers her class taking part and doing an ‘action song’ called Rumpelstiltskin. They came first and won the cup on behalf of the school. After her children grew up, Marian took a post at the Long Tower PS, as a canteen assistant. She worked there for 20 years and retired in 2014.
Marian stated:“ I have fond memories of my early school days at the Long Tower, and in later years as a member of staff. I have made some long lasting friendships, and look forward to seeing my grandchild create her own memories at the school.”
When Amanda started school, the girls and boys remained separate and she too attended classes in the girls’ school. She has fond memories of being involved in the school choir, shows and events. She had a ‘passion for music’ and all these activities made it ‘interesting and exciting.’ Amanda told how she made great friends at school, some of whom she remains in contact with to this day.
Amanda also took part in the Euro children project through the school and travelled to Belgium to a host family for one month each Summer.
Amanda said: “School was always, and still is at the heart of our local community and parish, lots of families in the area may have similar stories to ours. The children I went to school with played together in the local area, we all knew each other’s families.”
Amanda continued her education to qualify as a teacher and said: “As a parent, it was important that my daughter has the opportunity to enjoy her school days like I did. I’m delighted that a new generation in my family get to continue the historical links to the school.”
She praised the ‘wonderful’ teachers and staff at the inclusive school which ‘celebrates diversity’.
Amanda added: “Taking my child to the school on her first day was very nostalgic, it took me right back to when I was a pupil there.”