On 25 July 1881, the new Male and Female Schools officially opened in their grand new building just off School Street in Ballyclare. The cost to build? £700.
Originally just a 2-storey rectangular building with boys downstairs and girls upstairs, each in rooms approx. 37ft x 24ft x 11 ½ ft, it wasn’t until 1913 that the final structure was complete, resembling the letter ‘T’ that we can see in this photograph.On opening day in 1881, one observer vividly recalled: “In those days the village had a splendid brass band and on the day appointed for the opening, it proceeded to the wooden school where Tom Percy had assembled the children in readiness to march off and leave behind them the ‘oul wudden’ school.
To the accompaniment of a rousing marching tune, the parade moved off and with William Lawson (the school manager) and Thomas Percy at the head of the children, many of whom carried flags, they marched to ‘Fraction’s School’ at the Square where it was joined by the teachers and pupils of that august ‘academy’, from where the procession paraded to the ‘fit-o-th’ toon’ and back again to the Square, finally reaching their new seat of learning by way of School Street.”
It wasn’t until 3rd May 1886 that Tír na nÓg National School opened along the Doagh Road.