I came back to Maybole recently as a resident in Fairknowe Nursing home as I am no longer able to live on my own. It is good to be back among family and friends. Most folks in Maybole still think of me as Margaret Corbett but when I first came to Maybole it was as Margaret Mary Jennings, an assistant teacher at Lumsden Residential School.
I was born in Glasgow and graduated from Notre Dame teachers' training college in 1939. My first job was in a one teacher school, "All Souls" in Wigtown in 1940. There were about 30 pupils, including private evacuees and I remained there for a year and 3 months, when I returned to Glasgow to St Saviour's school in Govan. I was there for five years and then took a post in a residential school "Banknock" in Stirlingshire. This school was for Catholic boys who were physically disabled. There were 23 boys staying there.
My next move was to Maybole, to Lumsden Residential school. This time my pupils were Catholic physically handicapped girls. The school was owned and run by Glasgow Corporation, and had been a centre for handicapped children, mainly deaf and dumb children, evacuated from Glasgow during the Second World war. The Corporation then decided to maintain the property as a Residential School. The Teacher in Charge as the head was called was Miss Lilly Gallagher, and there was one other teacher besides myself, Miss Maureen Cairny, who now stays in Riddrie. We had 29 girls staying at the school and I had a class of eleven.
A local lad, Joe Corbett became interested in Lumsden and called to ask if the girls could participate in the St. Patrick's night concert in the Church hall, which was then in Abbot Street. We taught the girls a few Irish dances and a great night was had by all. In 1950 I married Joe. I had come to stay.
The school curriculum was the usual reading, writing and arithmetic. The teachers would take the girls for outings in the local taxi driven by Billy Arroll, One such run involved two taxis negotiating the steep roads around Barr. Every Sunday Billy Arroll called to take teachers and pupils to the church of Our Lady & St. Cuthbert's for Mass.
After I left, Miss McHaffie became head. Ashgrove was a similar Glasgow Corporation residential school for physically disabled Protestant children. Some years later Glasgow Corporation closed down the schools as they were too costly.
The next post I took up was in Cairn school in Maybole where I stayed for about one year, moving on to teach at St. Cuthbert's school where Mr Maurice Kilbride was head master. At that time there would have been about eighty pupils in the school. I can still remember the names of the pupils in my first class at St. Cuthbert's, and some of them are still here in Maybole.
I had a very enjoyable time at St. Cuthbert's and always found pupils very receptive. I remember that at the time of the Coronation of George VI and Queen Elizabeth, all the children got a presentation box of chocolates with photos of the King and Queen on the lid. The school was on holiday for several days. Another time Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip visited the town and the schools were given special places to view the royal couple as they passed in their cars. Our place was beside the Old Church and we had a superb view.
In 1973 I became head teacher. I loved being at the school and am very proud of the many pupils who have done so well in life. I always found the children's parents to be very supportive and can honestly say I have no unhappy memories of those school days. I felt I was following a very proud succession of head teachers before me, including Mr McVeigh and Mr Gerald McElroy.
The infants went annually on a trip to Trochrague. We brought the school gym equipment with us and had a sports day. Then everyone had lunch made by the nuns in the big house. The upper school trip was usually Girvan or sometimes Belmont Park in Ayr with lunch in the Belmont Hotel.
In 1978 I retired from teaching and in 1983 my husband Joe died. I lived for ten years after that in Maybole and then I married Jim Murray and moved to Stranraer. Jim is probably best remembered for his superb playing of the organ when he visited Our Lady & St. Cuthbert's in Maybole. Sadly Jim died in 1998 and I decided last year that I would return to my old haunts where I have family and friends. Now that I'm back I am surrounded by many familiar faces. I have had visits from family, friends and former pupils, with whom I love to catch up. Some of the staff at Fairknowe are former pupils and when I go to church I see many of them there. Only last week I enjoyed the parish Quiz night which was packed out. So, now that I am back in town, I hope to have many more happy memories to share.