The Christian Brothers and the Order Of The Phoenix
St Malachy’s school opened on the banks of the Lagan in 1874. When a well-to-do lady called Margaret Magill died, she left a sum of £2,400 to the Christian Brothers, on the instruction that they would set up a school to teach the children of the barge-men who worked on the Lagan. It was designed by Alexander MacAllister, a leading architect in Victorian Belfast.
I can’t find out a lot about Mrs Magill, other than that she may have been from Bangor, wasn’t short of a penny, and seems to have been a bit of a philanthropist.
The school closed in the 1960s, by which time the population was much too big for its two classrooms to accommodate. It was recently a solicitor’s office, and now it is vacant.
It’s Oxford Street’s answer to Harry Potter’s Order of the Phoenix HQ. It has the feeling of having erupted up magically between its neighbours.
I’m always attracted by it when I pass. Maybe if Mrs McGill’s great-great-great-great granddaughter reads this, she’ll buy it for me. It would be a handy spot to live in!