1915 school has a class future

Causeway Memorial School
Causeway Memorial School

The Causeway Memorial School Trust (CMST) has transferred the Causeway Memorial School to the National Trust which will ensure its future for generations to come.

Heather McLachlan, the National Trust’s Director for Northern Ireland said: “We are absolutely delighted and really proud that we will be looking after this important and culturally significant building which sits so prominently in the landscape of the Giant’s Causeway and Causeway Coast World Heritage Site.

“As a conservation charity this is core to what we do; protecting and maintaining our natural and cultural heritage for future generations.”

The National Trust was approached by CMST to take over responsibility for the premises and its restoration. The school, which is currently on a long-term lease to the Education Authority, has not been in use since 2013.

Speaking on behalf of the CMST, Charlie Macnaghten explained: “The current school was built in 1915 in memory of my great grandfather, Edward, Baron Macnaghten of Runkerry, a Lord of Appeal. From the time of its opening until it was taken over by the Education Authority in 1926 and indeed subsequently, my great aunts who were living at Runkerry were actively concerned with the running of the School under its progressive head-teacher Mr Dan McConaghy.

“It closed as a primary school in 1962 after pupils began going to Bushmills Primary School. Later it achieved considerable popularity as an educational resource giving visiting children from schools throughout Northern Ireland live experience of schooling in bygone days. This programme ended in 2013 when the school was again closed. Throughout its history, whenever possible, the building was available to local groups and for community

events. During this time, we were privileged to maintain the property and its educational ethos. We believe it is now time for the Trust to hand over to the National Trust so they may invest in restoring the building to its former glory and significance in its community.”

Max Bryant, General Manager, Giant’s Causeway and Carrick-a-Rede, confirmed that the local community and its representatives will have a say in the future of the property. “We take seriously our responsibility to look after beautiful and historic places. We are very much looking forward, in consultation with the local community, to establishing a long-term vision for the building and to restoring it, ensuring it is available for future generations to explore and enjoy.”

About the School

* The Causeway Memorial School was built in 1915 by the Macnaghten family as a memorial to Lord Macnaghten. They employed architect Clough Williams-Ellis whose distinctive style was responsible for Portmeirion in Wales as well as the village of Cushendun.

* An integrated project team will be formed in the coming months and will, in consultation with the local community and other key stakeholders, explore options to restore the building and to keep its distinctive spirit alive.

* Following amendments to the CMST charity’s trusts, approved by the Charity Commission, and after discussions with the Education Authority, the charitable trust has decided to transfer the premises to the National Trust.

* Until the Causeway Memorial School was built, local children were taught in much more cramped conditions close to what is now The Nook pub/restaurant or further along the coast at the old Lochaber School near Tonduff (now a barn).

* The building is listed grade B1 for its special historic and architectural merit.

* The school has many unique details including bas reliefs (a sculptural technique) made by the Macnaghtens’ friend, the sculptor Rosamund Praeger, one of which depicts the Children of Lir.

* The building is 2,869sqft over ground and first floors. The site is in a prominent position approximately one acre in size adjacent to and overlooking the Giant’s Causeway Visitors’ Centre. The Causeway School is on the boundary of the World Heritage Site on the north Antrim Coast.