Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 22 October 2014

Rainey's endowment spans the centuries

The Mid Ulster Mail, in a recent special supplement, described the Rainey Endowed School in Magherafelt as a "forerunner to integrated education". It has been that – one of the first mixed schools in Northern Ireland, although not quite "integrated" in the purist sense, since it retains its grammar status.

The school was founded 300 years ago by a Presbyterian of Scottish extraction, Hugh Rainey, who decreed in his will that it would educate the sons of impoverished families "of good repute".

It was his wish, he added, that: "What I have left may not only be for a generation or two, but that it may be for many not yet born."

I was among those many thousands of pupils who, down the generations, were to benefit from the school established as a result of Hugh's foresight and generosity. It brought together children of different creeds and ethnic backgrounds long before the integrated education movement even existed. It was, and is, a truly great school.

The Rainey is celebrating its tercentenary this year with a series of events and a commemorative book which will be launched during an open day on Saturday, September 28. And on Friday, October 18, the Grand Opera House will feature a production of Ashley Fulton's 50 Shillings and a New Suit Of Clothes, a show charting the school's history. (Tickets available from GOH box office and online.)

Even with his legendary foresight, old Hugh could surely not have envisaged that 300 years on his school would continue to flourish and expand the way it has.

He would surely be proud.

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