The Causeway School opened in 1915 and closed in 1962, it was built by the Macnaghten family in memory of their father Baron Macnaghten of Runkerry and replaced the original Causeway School which had been in existence from the middle of the nineteenth century. That school existed where the 'listed' period house stands on the right hand corner as you begin to drive up to the Giant's Causeway car park, now known as The Nook restaurant and wine bar.

 

The architect who designed the Causeway School was Clough Williams-Ellis who visited these shores on several occasions. He is renowned for designing and building the picturesque and unique village of Portmeirion in Wales which featured as a backdrop to the 1960's cult television series 'The Prisoner'. He also designed the Bushmills Memorial School (Old Grammar School) situated on the Priestland Road in Bushmills.

 

Other designs by Clough Williams-Ellis can be seen in the 'unique' conservation village of Cushendun. The design of the Causeway School originally had an open porch area which was eventually glazed. It was fine during the summer months but when the the prevailing winter winds and adverse weather set in it proved less practical for pupils.  Rosamund Praeger from Hollywood, County Down, produced the sculpture inside the porch which depict the story of the Children of Lir and shows Finnoula in human form sheltering with her swan siblings during their exile on the Sea of Moyle. Work by the same artist is located on the wall outside the entrance, a beautiful bronze relief sculpture of a small girl.

 

Other work by Rosamund Praeger can be seen on the side of the Thompson Pumphouse next to the Thompson Dock where the Titanic was fitted out. This unique and rare terracota piece was a dedication to those who lost their lives during the First World War.  Unfortunately the Causeway School is now closed, the Education & Library Board who leased and managed it, in their finite wisdom, closed it as an educational visit for pupils from all over Northern Ireland who came to learn about their heritage, they also closed it to the general public during the main visitor season denying thousands an opportunity to glimpse part of our rich local heritage. Their reason is cited as not being able to afford to run it anymore, unsustainable  :-)  .......this is a site which is directly adjacent and in view of the Giant's Causeway Visitor Centre, a site which attracts over 850,000  visitors per year.

 

One of the teacher's who taught at the old school and at the new school too, was Daniel McConaghy and for those who really know the topography of the Causeway, it was Daniel who was responsible for the wonderful life size face of Finn MacCool carved into the pyroclastic rock on one of the headlands close to the water's edge, though not at the Causeway Stones.

 

Daniel McConaghy spent his life serving the local community as headmaster and for those who wish to know more about the people of the causeway do read the article and view the unique pictures linked from the menu above.    One of his pupils at the old school was Robert Quigg V.C. who along with other pupils would have been required to bring a lump of turf to school each day during winter to keep the fire stoked and the classroom warm.  The Causeway School  hopefully will be saved  by someone seeing and understanding its value to the community and visitors. If it is open, then it is well worth a visit and if you miss it, you miss something very special and 'unique' to the Giant's Causeway.