Dalriada School

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Coordinates: 55°04′23″N 6°31′16″W / 55.072992°N 6.521241°W / 55.072992; -6.521241

Dalriada School
Type Voluntary, Co-educational Grammar School
Motto Labor Sine Cura, Labor Sine Fructu (work without effort is work without fruit)
Established 1878
Headmaster Thomas Skelton
Deputy Heads Nicola Madden & Ian Walker
Number of students Approx 850

Dalriada School is a mixed voluntary grammar school in Ballymoney, Northern Ireland.[1] The school draws its pupils from a wide geographical area and a range of social, religious and cultural backgrounds.[1] In 2008 the school won the Northern Ireland State Secondary School of the Year award from The Sunday Times.[2]

Past headmasters[edit]

(as Ballymoney Intermediate school)

(as Dalriada School, Ballymoney)

  • Alfred Ross (1931–48)
  • G. Edmund Gordon (1948–75)
  • Alan Reynolds (1975–87)
  • William Calvert (1987-2003)
  • Derek Boyd (2003-7)
  • Thomas Skelton (2007–present)

Present day[edit]

Dalriada offers both music and drama.


Dalriada has four choirs, an orchestra, string group and wind band, and several other small instrumental groups.[1]


There are several choirs throughout the school, ranging from the large choir of the younger years to the select few who are chosen for the chamber choir. These choirs meet at lunchtimes throughout the week, and take part in various musical events throughout the year, especially at the Christmas Carol concert. The Chamber Choir has represented the school in school choir of the year in days gone by, and has even started the tradition of visiting other countries to perform, e.g. the yearly chamber choir trip to London.[3]

Instrumental groups[edit]

Dalriada's orchestra, string group, and wind band regularly perform at school concerts. The school also has a number of small groups, including the Irish Traditional Groups, a Dixieland Band, a Jazz Quartet, The Tuba Club, and several others.[3]

The school holds several concerts each year, including the "Evening of Music", where each choir and musical ensemble prepare a collection of songs, and the Christmas Carol Concert.[1][citation needed]


Dalriada has traditionally staged an annual Shakespearean production. This has been altered in recent years to include modern plays and musicals. Productions staged in recent years have included Les Misérables, Arthur Miller's The Crucible, Oliver!, and this year's musical has been announced as "Phantom Of The Opera".


All pupils must take part in two periods of "Games" each week. Rugby is the main winter sports for boys with cricket and other types of athletics being practiced in the spring season. Hockey is the main sport for girls at the school. Rugby and Hockey are the main school sports, but Football and Orienteering are also available during the two Games periods. Dalriada football has risen in popularity through the success of the Under 14 team, winning the league twice in a row. Volleyball has recently become rather popular in the school, with the teams doing well in leagues. Other, less well known sports at the school include Archery, Football, Badminton, Fencing, Cross Country Running, Swimming up until 2nd year and Netball, with a number of these sports fielding successful teams.[citation needed] Although rowing is impractical at the school, some students have achieved strong success at local clubs. Gaelic football, a sport primarily played by Catholics, is not encouraged due to the perception of it being an Irish sport.

Inter-house sports offer competition within the school. Each student belongs to one of five houses (Ross, Armour, Reynolds, Gordon and Calvert) and competes to defend the name of their house.


The school also offers students extra-curricular societies. Student-run societies have raised money through numerous charity events such as band nights and "World Aid Week."[1] Teams have travelled abroad to orphanages in Romania as part of a charity programme.[citation needed]

Debating Society[edit]

There are two debating societies in the school; a junior and a senior one. the Junior debating society is attended by years 8-10 and is the 'training ground' for future competitive debaters.[citation needed]

The senior debating society, Arguendo, is where year 11 and up come to debate, at Friday lunchtimes. Since its revival in 2008 the society has become rather popular, with Dalriada entering teams into the annual Debating Matters competition and the Denny all-Ireland Debating Competition. In 2009 a team of six won the Debating Matters Northern Ireland competition held in Coleraine University facing off stiff competition from many schools throughout the province in this knockout style competition. In 2008 a team from Dalriada were the overall champions of Northern Ireland, Ireland and the British Isles a tremendous accolade, and in 2009 Dalriada gained first place in Northern Ireland, and went on to represent NI in the all-Ireland final, but were narrowly defeated in a fierce debating battle.[citation needed]

In 2009/2010 Arguendo entered the Northern Ireland Debating competition, a long running competition, for the first time. The upper sixth team of Patrick McIlveen and Sarah Laverty were awarded Team of the Competition at the finals in Stormont after narrowly being defeated in the Quarter Finals, Sarah Laverty also received second place in the Speaker of the Competition.[3]

In 2010/2011 the Society came under new leadership. The team once again entered the Northern Ireland Schools Debating competition this time with a different strategy. Team A was made up of Carla Hunter (Society President and Yr 14) and Rebekah Warke (Yr 12), Team B was made up of Leo Evans (Yr 12) and Craig Wysner (Yr13) but later Jessica Morrison (Yr 14). The two teams battled valiantly throughout the year, with both teams making it to the Quarter Final (Being the Only School to do so). At this stage Team A was unfortuanately defeated by the eventual Runners-Up, Team B though made it through to the Semi-Final where they were defeated by the eventual Champions. However Leo Evans of Team B was Nominated for the Best Individual Speaker of the Competition held at Stormont just before the final. In an intense debate on Social Networks and Revolution he was awarded Joint-Third by the judges.[4]

However whilst all this was going on, the Society had entered a second competition, the UK Wide Debating Matter Championship which accepted team from northern Ireland in the main competition for the first time. A team of six debaters (Sarah McQuillan (Yr 13), Christy Gregg (Yr 14), Charlie MacLaughlin (Yr 13), Luke McAuley (Yr 13), Peter McCully (Yr 13) and Andrew Hanna (Yr 13)) won the Derry Qualifying Heat to make it through the Northern Ireland and Scotland final in Edinburgh, where they triumphed over schools from across the two countries.[5] This allowed them to then qualify for the National Final held at the Royal Society of Medicine where they triumphed in the Quarter and Semi-Finals to make it through the Final, where they were narrowly defeated in an extraordinarily close debate on the Banning of the Burqa.[6] The Society finished with its most successful year, finishing 3rd and 5th in the prestigious Northern Ireland Championships, and 2nd in the Debating Matters British Championship, and extraordinary accomplishment.

Dalriada also competes in the annual Bar Mock Trial Competition. This is a team of 16 individuals who prepare prosecution and defense mock legal cases for the regional finals each year in the Royal Courts of Justice in Belfast and spend considerable time training for the event. In 2010 this team won the regional Belfast heats which is a huge accolade. Upon their return, this team was invited to compete in the World Championships of Mock trial in the Empire City invitational, where they placed an astonishing 10th place, with several individual awards being given out. In 2011, An almost entirely new team of "Mockers" competed in the Regional Competition and won yet again. This time, the team competed in the National Finals in The Old Bailey in London, managing to come second in all of the United Kingdom. Once again, the team took part in the World Championships in New York City in October 2012.

Politics Society[edit]

The recently formed politics society is an opportunity for pupils to learn, or argue, about current affairs. it takes place every Thursday lunchtime and a wide variety of topics are discussed.

Astronomical Society[edit]

The Dalriada Astronomical Society was started in 2004. It is unique in the fact that it is the only society to be entirely pupil-run, with a new President elected each year. At regular meetings on Wednesday afternoons, members of the Society hold regular talks on a wide variety of astronomy-related subjects. The Astronomical Society also won a citizenship award for the Orion project, where local primary schools were invited in to learn about this constellation in a fun and engaging way.[citation needed]

Notable former pupils[edit]

Dalriada Prep[edit]

Dalriada Preparatory Department was a fee-paying prep school affiliated to the main school and situated on the same campus.[1] It closed in June of 2013. [7]


  1. ^ a b c d e f "Dalriada School". Retrieved 2010-10-12. [full citation needed]
  2. ^ http://www.ballymoneytimes.co.uk/news/local/dalriada_win_northern_ireland_school_of_the_year_award_1_1827547
  3. ^ a b c The Dalriad, 2010, school magazine, published yearly.
  4. ^ 2011 Dalriad Magazine.  Missing or empty |title= (help);
  5. ^ "Debating Matters". 
  6. ^ "Debating Matters". 
  7. ^ "Prep closing". 

External links[edit]