To God Through Mary .....Do Dhia Trí Mhuire
St. Mary's Primary School, Dunamore, with a current enrolment of 185 pupils, is a rural school serving a large catchment area in the Parish of Kildress (meaning Church of the Brambles). The school is situated at the foothills of the Sperrin Mountains (an environmentally sensitive area) 12 kilometres from the historic town of Cookstown. Beside the school stands St Mary’s Church an impressive, historic building with its beautiful view and intricate architecture.
Over the past 50 years the school has experienced many changes from a three classroom school (built in 1963) to a seven classroom school now. Extensions in 1984 and more extensions and refurbishments from 2009-2015 have updated and modernised the school to include a new mobile classroom, a Hygiene Room, Principal’s Office, General Office, a refurbished Computer Suite, a new P7 classroom, an extra resource room, a Reading Centre, a refurbished staffroom and increased car parking facilities within the school grounds.
The grounds of the school are enclosed by some of our native ash and beech trees. The reflective enclosed area at the front of the school referred to as, 'Frankie's Garden' is in memory of our past caretaker, Frankie McVeigh RIP, who died suddenly in May 2005. Near to the garden stands a beech tree, which was presented to the school by Don Connery (artist). This was an award to a past pupil who won a national Esso Wild Life Competition in the year 2005.
Going for a leisurely stroll on the ‘Dunamore Walk’ the evidence of our past history and cultural heritage is all around. Heading out through the school gates and turning left one passes by Diarmuid and Grainne’s grave. Irish folklore suggests that Diarmuid and Grainne had a resting place in the field beside the school.
The Dunamore Creamery (now St Mary’s Hall) is at the foot of Colton’s Hill. The Dispensary (now a restored house) is opposite and beside it, River Vale Nursing Home (once known as the Barracks).
The Ballinderry River meanders nearby the school. In the past a tributary of the Ballinderry River was used to power the water wheel of the corn mill of which the ruins still remain. The actual wheel can be seen in the Mill Wheel Bar and Restaurant.
Near to the school there is the ancient site of Beaghmore Stone Circles and dotted throughout the countryside there are standing stones all evidence of an historic past.
There are many bog and peat lands around the school district where people have cut turf for generations. Turf cutting has experienced technological change from the manual work of the spade to the work of a machine. In order to preserve the bog lands and its flora and fauna there have been restrictions imposed on where cutting turf by machine can be done.
As we are situated in a rural community farms are worked all around us. This gives the pupils an insight into the cycle of a farmer's year and how he uses the land, rears animals and grows crops.
The community itself is growing and changing. New homes and developments are being built with new materials and modern structures. The school itself, nestled amidst this growing community, bodes well for future generations where education and lifelong learning will remain an integral part of this community.