Portaferry National School

This National School was erected in 1849 by public subscription and its first Patron was the Rev. John Orr (see panel No 12).

Pupils, who were of all denominations, paid up to 1 penny per week for the coal to heat the schoolroom. Some even brought in a bucket of coal.

Progression through the school from 1st class through to 6th was based on “Readers”. If the “Reader” for that year was completed the pupil passed to the next class. If not, the pupil stayed in the same class until they had completed it!

The Irish National School system, established in 1831, provided education for all children between the ages of 6 and 12. Many stayed on longer.

The system provided a good basic education and its greatest achievement was a significant increase in literacy during the 19th century.

Portaferry National School

In the 19th century James Shanks, who became a leading light in the local Tenant Right Association, attended Portaferry National School. He studied there until he was 18 and apparently received an education up to the level given in any secondary school.

Meeting House Lane is known locally as “Purgatory”.

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