Well-known teacher provided over 30 years of service in Larne

Joan McCluggage
Joan McCluggage

Joan McCluggage, who was a native of Armagh city, was a well-known resident of Larne who served at Larne and Inver School in the town for over 30 years, latterly as vice principal.

Born Joanna Graham in May 1929 in the family home on the Mall in Armagh, she was the first daughter of Sam and Belle Graham.

She grew up at the Mall with her older bothers Herbie and Jim, the family moving to Glenanne and being subsequently added to with the arrival of Margaret and Norman.

Joan Graham attended Armstrong Memorial Primary School in Armagh and often stayed with her grandparents and aunts in the city during the week.

When her father Sam obtained employment in Milford Mill, the family moved back into the city, to Arthur’s Villas.

She subsequently attended Armagh Girls’ High School, working for Junior and Senior certificates and enjoying the sports of hockey, tennis and badminton.

After leaving school and working as a junior mistress in a local primary school for a year, Joan gained a place at Stranmillis Teacher Training College Belfast and began a new phase in her life, during which she made new friends from around Northern Ireland.

One of these new friends was from Larne and, after coming to stay with her for the weekend, Joan met the man she eventually married, Charlie McCluggage. After their wedding in 1953 she moved to Larne to continue her career as a primary school teacher in the Parochial School in Victoria Road.

The arrival of her son Graham within a year and daughter Elizabeth just over a year later resulted in her teaching career being put on hold, but in 1960 Joan McCluggage joined the staff of Larne and Inver School as the primary one teacher. She continued there until her retirement approximately 32 years later as vice principal.

Remaining as the P1 class teacher, she started around 1,000 children on their educational path over her time in the school. As a teacher she also encouraged many to enjoy sewing, knitting and various other crafts, as well as hockey and badminton. She also trained and led the school choir for the annual carol service, frequently held in First Larne Presbyterian Church where her funeral service was held last week. Skills as an organist learned during her time in the Mall Street Presbyterian congregation in Armagh were also often utilised.

Shortly after coming to Larne she had joined the Woman’s Institute to get to know more people and remained a member ever since, holding most of the posts on the committee several times. One of her last days out in the autumn of 2016 was to the 80th anniversary party of the Larne Institute held at Drumalis House.

The Business and Professional Women Club was another organisation within the town that attracted her support. She was active in the local Business and Professional Women’s efforts to provide the first defibrillator for the town and in running a very successful public speaking competition with the local secondary schools, among many other events.

When she retired, she joined the Larne Choral Society, in which she sang for many years until she found standing for performances too difficult.

Family life was very important to Joan and her husband Charlie. They were not only supportive and encouraging parents but also supportive to their own parents. They were also delighted to take on the role of grandparents.

After his retirement from his work as a civil servant, Charlie filled some of his free time at Larne Rugby club in various roles including the selection committee. This also led to Joan joining the ladies committee helping with fetes and the weekend catering as it was something that she shared with all of her family.

In the funeral sermon, Rev. Dr. Colin McClure recounted that Joan and Charlie had enjoyed their summer holidays together often just getting into the car, boarding the ferry and turning either north or south as the notion took them to the Scottish Highlands or to visit family in England. He said that the loss of her husband in 1988 was a great blow, and Joan missed him every day.

After her retirement Mrs. McCluggage literally widened her horizons, often in the company of her brother Jim and sister-in-law Beattie to places like New England, Canada, Bermuda, the Baltic cities and one of the early day trips to Iceland. She was the first in the family to take a helicopter trip, to the Scilly Isles. There were also family trips to many places, including Spain and France, whale watching in Canada and dolphin watching in the Shannon Estuary.

Having suffered a stroke 15 months ago, she moved from Station Road in the town to reside in Broadways Nursing Home in Larne, the staff of whom have been thanked by her family for the excellent care which they provided.

She is survived by her son Graham, daughter-in-law Lynne, daughter Elizabeth and son-in-law Arthur and grandchildren Frances, Jennifer, Kathryn, Peter and wife Sara.

The funeral service took place in First Larne Presbyterian Church with interment at Gleno cemetery outside the town. Donations in lieu of flowers were to the NSPCC and the funeral arrangements were carried out by S & J Irvine Undertakers, Carrickfergus.