JOHN B CUNNINGHAM
John B. Cunningham is an Irish historian
and writer born in Ballyshannon, County Donegal in 1944. He attended the small two-teacher
country primary school where his father was headmaster in Lettercrann, Pettigo, County
Donegal and later St. Michael's Grammar School, Enniskillen, County Fermanagh. He
became a teacher in St. Joseph's Training College, Belfast and after two year spells in
Legamaghery P.S., Fintona, County Tyrone and Drumskinney, County Fermanagh became
headmaster of Belleek P.S. in 1969. He taught there until 1996 when he took early
retirement to continue his research and writing.
In private study he gained a B.A.
degree with the Open University and an M.A. at Durham University and was seconded to The
Public Record Office Northern Ireland for a year to become acquainted with its huge
resources and become a resource person for other teachers and local historians in his
He served on the Northern Ireland
committee which drew up the current history syllabus for Northern Ireland and played a
leading role in the schools programme, "Education for Mutual Understanding"
which linked Protestant and Roman Catholic Schools in Northern Ireland in constructive
educational and recreational activities despite the ongoing violence in the Province.
He is married with four children
and resides in the old schoolhouse in Belleek as the third headmaster to live there in the
past 117 years.
His driving force has been to
record and write down as much as possible of the local history of Fermanagh and Donegal,
to the highest academic standards without losing the attention and interest of the
ordinary person who cares about local history. He writes about the commonality of life
where regardless of belief we all are born, live and die and in that short timeframe we do
a vast number of things in common, be educated, married, earn a living, celebrate, go to a
place of worship, mourn and be buried. The commonality of life far outweighs the sectional
divisions which elements in Irish society promote and encourage for their own ends. Life
is too short for fighting.
John B. Cunningham