Richard Jackson Charitable Trust
On joining the Trustees in 1990 my first observation was that it was uneconomical to maintain a building for use amounting to 6 hours a year. 1994 began a process of finding the right agency to develop the Boardroom for the benefit of the local community. Over a six year period unsuccessful approaches were made to International Fund for Ireland, Rural Housing Association Omagh, CRISP, Leader II, and ROSA Trust, all of which took both time and energy. Finally in 2000 negotiations began with Hearth Housing Association. A budget of £100,000 approximately is in place, planning permission has been obtained and a lease of the three properties for just under 50 years to the Housing Association is at an advanced stage of preparation. The Boardroom will be converted for social housing, and the Trustees will retain a modest meeting room in No. 12 Church Road. Work is due to start 2007.
The reform of the Old Farmers fund makes it more useful to the wider community. As the only part of the Jackson bequest that includes Roman Catholics as beneficiaries it was important to look for the best outcome. It was inspired by one basic principle, namely that I will make no one queue for £5, which was how things were done until 1993. The one remaining farmer received his payment by cheque until he died in February 2006. From 1994 to 2000 £1,900 was given to Southern Area Hospice Services, and £2,800 for the period 2001 to 2006.
The inclusion of children from the Ballymascanlon Union group of parishes as being eligible for the Education Fund seemed an obvious development, which would have been even more beneficial if it had occurred twenty years earlier. The harder part was to work out how to include Roman Catholics as indirect beneficiaries of the education fund, given the history and limitations of the Trust. This was achieved by increasing the payment to Creggan Parish by £200 p.a. from 2002. The parish then sent £200 to St. Andrea Kaawha’s College Uganda, where it paid yearly half fees for three pupils. In 2005 a library book grant of £250 was given to Bush Post Primary School, a state school attended by some Church of Ireland children. Today the Education Fund continues to support Creggan Parish, St. Nicholas’ national School Dundalk and 12 pupils at Dundalk Grammar School.
The discovery of the 1821 Forkill Census was a particular highlight. It forms a chapter in Kayla Madden’s book “Forkhill Protestants and Forkhill Catholics 1787 – 1858” (Liverpool University Press 2006). We look forward to the publication of the 1821 Census data in autumn 2006.
When Reve. Sandra Pragnell was appointed in 2005 she became only the third woman to serve on the Board. I hope that the Trustees will take account of gender balance when making appointments on future elected vacancies.
On the negative side. Trustees as beneficiaries of their own Trust was probably not a good idea, although the clergy only ceased to be low paid workers in 1993. The local deputations of 1954 and 1976 show parochialism at its worst. My one disappointment, which is entirely beyond the control of the Trustees, is that the proposal in 2002 to amalgamate St. Nicholas’ National School, Dundalk Presbyterian School and the preparatory department of Dundalk Grammar School in one brand new school on a green field site failed at the last hurdle. We are now left with the continuation of a policy of separate development. To have three small Protestant Primary Schools in Dundalk seems an extravagance.
The absence of the two Bishops from 1981 and 1988 respectively is an indication of other demands on their time. It does seem remarkable that from 1789 to 1981/8 two Bishops came a distance four times a year to share in the administration of a small organisation, where the matters discusses were mostly very routine. From the list of Trustees it can be seen that a number of members served for 30 or 40 years. No doubt they had a genuine affection for the work of the Trust and were diligent in their duties, although the lack of turnover of personnel may have contributed to an innate conservatism.
Richard Jackson (1720-1787) owned the manor of Forkill and the manor of Castle Hamilton Co. Cavan. The Dictionary of ulster Biography (1993) tells us that he was born in Ballycastle Co. Antrim, and was educated at TCD. He was called to the Bar in 1744 and became MP for Weymouth and later for New Romney. He was appointed Lord of the Treasury and was known as ‘Omniscient Jackson’. It is our hope that as Trustees we have exercised good stewardship of our inheritance from this singular and generous man, of which we have now given account.