When William Thackeray wrote his Irish Sketchbook in 1834, he recorded this rather drily as ‘a school in the Early English taste’, although he describes the village and its Castle in some detail.
Mr & Mrs Hall, writing their Ireland in the same year, enthused over this ‘very pretty school house’, where the ‘little scolars presented a clean, orderly and industrious appearance.’ According to the Ordnance Survey memoir written in 1853, the school had been built in 1825, at a cost of £500, using cut stone brought from Scotland at considerable expense. This would presumably be the pinkish sandstone used in quoins and window dressings, the main structure being of local basalt.
The building is closely associated with the Barbican gateway of Glenarm Castle, a romantic turreted structure across the river from it which has recently been converted to holiday accommodation by the Irish Landmark Trust, and both were built by the Countess of Antrim, as recorded in an inscription on the Barbican. When the present village school was built, this building became redundant. It was used as a youth club from 1967 to 1978, but fell vacant again until restoration started in 1985. The original Parish Church of Glenarm stood somewhere on the site of the building, and one large gravestone remained behind the schoolhouse which had to be relocated to the present church during the restoration.
Originally consisting of two halls laid out in a T-shaped plan, conversion has involved the insertion of a new floor and staircase in each hall to create a two-storey house. Despite these very extensive internal changes, external alterations were restricted to the addition of two rooflights at the rear, and the restoration of the cast-iron lattice windows, many of which had been removed over the years. The original doorway acts as a porch for both houses.
The building was extensively improved in 2010-11 to bring it up to modern standards. Stonework was extensively repaired and repointed at this time.
Hearth Housing Association
Martin & Hamilton, Ballymena
JDC Joinery, Cookstown