Florence revisits old school - 93 years on

Florence, second row from bottom, third from left, with fellow pupils and her father, Master James Anderson.
Florence, second row from bottom, third from left, with fellow pupils and her father, Master James Anderson.

A former Grange woman has returned to the school she last attended 93 years ago - and found that it hasn’t really changed that much.

Florence Anderson, aged 100, made the trip from her home in Lisburn to the former Grange O’Neiland Public Elementary School (close to Dan Winter’s cottage) on Sunday.

Florence Anderson

Florence Anderson

It was a real trip down memory lane for her as her father, Master James Anderson, was the headmaster of the school from 1920-24, with the Anderson family living in a house attached to it.

Today, the house is privately owned while the school is owned by a local church.

And when Florence and her family called on Sunday, members of the church just happened to be there and were more than happy to let them see inside the old schoolhouse.

One parishioner even recognised his mother in the school photo dating back to 1923 which Florence had brought with her, and others were able to point out families they knew.

The photo shows around 30 pupils, including Florence, her sister and cousin, with her father at the end of one of the rows.

It is believed that Florence is the only surviving member of those in the picture.

Florence, who is in excellent health, clearly remembers the adjoining orchards, the fact there was no traffic on the roads and that her father drove a motorbike and sidecar.

She also recalls a pond in front of the house - one feature that has disappeared.

Although items like the old boiler have been removed, the original windows are still intact and the basic fabric of the building is the same as it was all those years ago.

Florence, whose married name is Cathcart, was accompanied on the visit by her nephew, Tandragee man Terry Anderson (whose dad Eric was a French teacher at Portadown College), and wife Dorothy and by Florence’s daughter Pat and husband Gordon.

Said Terry, “She had a great day. It was just how she remembered it.”