When forgeips.co.uk began in 2006, Judy was interviewed because she is the only member of staff who was present when Forge opened its doors in September 1985. (You can read her interview below). But what happened before that? How did Forge become the joint-first integrated primary school in Northern Ireland?
One of the best people to answer those questions, and tell at least some of the story, is Mary Connolly. Mary is an ex-parent, who was also a governor of Forge for a long time, as well as being chair for several years.
(Please note that the following interview is a paraphrase of a much longer conversation, the processes and issues were much more complex!)
Where did the idea for an integrated primary school come? Who was the first person to suggest it to you?
The whole idea of integrated education began with two women from Bangor, Betty Benton and Cecil Linehan. In the early 1970s they wanted to send their children to a school that was integrated. They were both Catholic and they wanted to arrange instruction for their children outside school, but the church refused. Over time other parents of both traditions became involved from around North Down and they founded ACT (All Children Together).