Coolmountain National School, Coolmountain townland, Co. Cork
NGR: 118544, 60287
This school building is especially unusual in Ireland as it is constructed largely from corrugated-iron. The ruins of Coolmountain National School comprise a detached gable-fronted three-bay single-storey school, built c.1950. It has a pitched asphalt roof with cast-iron rainwater goods. The windows comprise square-headed openings with metal casement windows and timber sills. It also has a square-headed door opening with timber battened door, overlight and concrete steps. There are also rendered walls to front and sides of plot with wrought-iron gate. The building ceased being used as a school in 1969 but was lived in until 2005. It is near collapse and unlikely to survive much longer.
Though constructed in the 1950s, there has been a school at this site since the 1830s. Lewis’ Topographical Dictionary of 1837 records that;
‘There are four National school-houses in the parish; three were erected by the R. C. clergyman and his parishioners, one at Kilbarry, one at Inchegeelagh and one at Ballingearig; the fourth was built at Coolmountain in 1836, in aid of which the Commissioners of Education granted £30. They also gave a gratuitous supply of books, as a first stock, to each of these schools, and continue to furnish them with books and school necessaries at half price; they also grant an annual sum of £40 towards the salaries of the teachers: the average attendance of children, both male and female, at these four schools, is 500. There is also a private school, in which are about 20 children, and a Sunday school….‘
This structure was strategically positioned for use by the local rural population and its educational and social importance is highlighted both by its commanding views of the surrounding landscape and by the large plot of land on which it is sited. The use of corrugated-iron as wall cladding adds texture and interest to a building of modest dimensions and materials.
If you or someone you know attended this national school, or if you have any further information about this school – please do get in touch and share any stories, anecdotes, photographs, or any other memories you may have. If you know of further schools that I could visit, please do let me know.