Well folks I have a new job. Not a real, paying job, mind you, but we can't have everything. After the couple of years that the Department for Education took to appreciate my vast experience and unparalleled skills in the field of Education, I am, (drum roll...) a School Governor. Not just any school, mind you - this old one, which some of you may recognise from the hundreds of snaps I've posted of it:
What used to be O'Hara's Castle, then Dominican Convent, now Dominican School. Apparently, the Dominican Order arrived in Portstewart not long after the Parish was created but rather than hide themselves away they opted to start a school. And what better place, eh? Looks like it would be a good setting for a Hammer House of Horror film, what with those big clouds rolling in from the West and the sea crashing against the rocks below.
Apparently yer man O'Hara was an old sea dog - sorry, Captain, and built his castle with the room at the the front there mimicking the bridge of a boat. We were sitting in there last week for my first Governor's meeting and when you are looking out of the 3 big old windows at the front it does seem as if you are right over the water. Very impressive.
Nowadays the school is very much integrated...and I don't mean boys and girls (although it is mixed in that sense too). In this part of the world the word 'integrated' and 'education' means both Catholic and Protestant pupils attend. The school itself offers a traditional Catholic Grammar School education but it's actually something like a 60:40 Catholic:Protestant split. I arrive at a good time, with the school celebrating its Centenary next year. Big changes are also coming, with the numbers increasing by something like a third over the next few years as another school in the area is being closed. I'm looking forward to the challenge. Who knows, I might be able to sneak a camera or two inside from time to time and try to capture some of that wonderful Gothic architecture.