Our family came to Dunmurry congregation in 1954 having previously been members of Mountpottinger, Antrim, Killinchy and Rademon. In 1957, the Rev. John McCleery asked me to take charge of the Sunday School. I refused. He assured me it would be for six months only, so I relented. The six months lasted for seventeen years! We had a wonderful Sunday School and many loyal teachers.
As Sunday School superintendent I had a seat on the Church committee. The meetings were something else. During many debates and heated arguments, Rev. John, flanked by the Hon. Secretary Harry Hicks and Hon. Treasurer James Stevenson sat at the top of the table and chatted amongst themselves, smoking pipes and disappearing in the haze! When the debate ended and we had come to a decision, and we conveyed it to the Chair, the Rev. John would thank us and tell us whatever we had been debating had already been put in hand—how well he knew us!
The Courthouse in those days was a very popular venue. Not only were the local Petty Session Courts held there but it was also in great demand by many Drama groups who kept us well entertained during the winter months. Perhaps the masks of “Comedy and Tragedy” are still hanging over the stage…if the stage still exists. Downstairs, there was a thriving table-tennis club, frequented by the famous Walker brothers, as well as a target shooting club. Upstairs, who could forget the badminton club? What a laugh that was. The Hall was too small and the pot-bellied stove being in the middle of one wall didn’t help but it was great fun.
The Courthouse was also home to the Cub pack, a dancing class and the many Sales of Work and Jumble Sales, all of which made money for the Church. On New Year’s Eves, the Courthouse was THE place to be. There we danced the Lancers, Gay Gordons, the Waves of Tory, the Dashing White Sergeant and many more. How the floor survived is a miracle. At 11.45pm, everyone went over to the Church for the Watch Night Service to welcome in the New Year. Those were the days!