Hollygrove National School, Hollygrove townland, Co. Galway

Hollygrove National School, Hollygrove townland, Co. Galway

(dated 1899)

NGR: 178226, 257469


Like so many disused national school buildings present in the rural Irish landscape, the simple ‘to-plan’ architecture of Hollygrove and it’s isolated location in north Co. Galway reflects somewhat juxtaposed concepts of rural homogeneity (a school building like many others, built cheaply and ‘to-plan’ by the state administrators for a homogeneous local rural population) and the uniqueness of each rural area in its isolation (built in a isolated spot near the shore of Ballaghdacker Lough, seemingly far removed from the offices of design and planning – like so many other civic buildings planted in these locations from afar).

Hollygrove 2nd Edition OS sheets

Above is the Second Edition 25 inch to 1 mile OS sheet for Hollygrove showing the location of the School to the southwest of Ballaghdacker Lough at the turn of the 20th century

Each of these schools is undoubtedly similar in a broad sense (each school was to serve the same general role as an institute of education), but also undoubtedly unique. For the casual onlooker today, this school house could be confused with many others of a similar design, however, for those children who attended the school, the building was unmistakable – identifiable through minor unique qualities or its landscape setting. Hollygrove, or sometimes Holly Grove, is a townland of 283 acres in Athleague parish, Killeroran district, Killian barony, Union of Mountbellew, in County Galway. The townland is on the border of Roscommon and Galway. Hollygrove National School is situated to the southwest of Ballaghdacker Lough in the townland.


Griffith’s valuation between 1848 and 1864, lists the following people in Hollygrove who leased the land they farmed:

Patrick Byrne
John Droody
James Feeney
John Gouran
Luke Hannelly
John Hogan
Bernard Kelly
Thomas Kerin
Hannelly Leonard
Michael Leonard
Thomas Moran
Patrick Reilly
John Torpy


The building comprises a detached four-bay single-storey school, dated 1899. It is now derelict with the square-headed windows now boarded up. It has a pitched slate roof, with rendered chimneystack, and cast-iron rainwater goods. The walls are rendered with cement, having an inscribed limestone plaque reading ‘Hollygrove National School 1899’. The main entrance is a square-headed door opening, head being about mid-point of windows, and having timber battened door. There are also fixed timber paned windows with limestone sills. This is a typical small rural school of the end of the nineteenth century. Although disused it retains historic fabric and the plaque gives important information.

A common feature of many national schools dating to this time, is a simple regulated ventilation system. Part of the infrastructure for this system can be identified at Hollygrove, including adjustable air vents that were located at ceiling level:

Hollygrove National School, Co. Galway

In 1937 the Irish Folklore Commission, in collaboration with the Department of Education and the Irish National Teachers’ Organisation, initiated a revolutionary scheme in which schoolchildren were encouraged to collect and document folklore and local history. Over a period of eighteen months some 100,000 children in 5,000 primary schools in the twenty-six counties of the Irish Free State were encouraged to collect folklore material in their home districts. This of course included Hollygrove in Co. Galway. Below is a description of the Hollygrove locality in 1937  from this collection gathered by Paddy Joe Leahy:

Irish Folklore Commission

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.

12 thoughts on “Hollygrove National School, Hollygrove townland, Co. Galway”

  1. My sister was notified only recently that she had inherited a school like Hollygrove.

    Can anyone provide an idea or experience of current approaches for refurbishment and any available grants to offset costs of refurbishment?

    Additionally, what are some suggested compatible uses for these properties to provide for long term operations and maintenance of the historic structure. For example, some have suggested the school be turned into a vacation rental by owner.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Micheal – It might be best to contact an engineer and/or architect to get the ball rolling. They will also advise you on any funding available, though I believe most of the available funding is for vernacular strutures


  2. I myself attended this school in 1965 it then closed and car transport was made available to 3 families from Hollygrove to Athleague
    Mr McDonald was the teacher back then and she drove in her black anglia car from rahra (didn’t spell it correct) also Josephine ward was a substitute teacher there as well
    There was one classroom and approx 17 children attended back in 1965/66 time frame
    There was and still is a water pump across the road, I used to walk across with the teacher to help fill the bucket and bring it back so kids could drink water
    There were old dry toilets out back of school by lake
    The school had neither plumbing nor electricity
    It had air ducts in each corner that could be manually controlled to allow air flow
    My father brought myself on cross bar of bycycle and my sister on back carrier and dropped us off at 9am every morning and collected us both at 3pm every afternoon on donkey and cart
    It was a nice school, we had very little but I truly enjoyed it
    The teacher Mrs McDonald was an awesome woman a great teacher and a wonderful person
    It was a living hell attending Athleague national school, the things I witnessed was brutal. My short experience attending Hollygrove national school was a very pleasant and joyful experience
    If anyone reads this or wants to contact me I can be reached by email esmonnhogan29@gmail.com or WhatsApp 16025767478
    My name is Eamonn Hogan, I reside in Arizona, USA from October to May each year and travel to central and South America and Asia from May to October
    If you have any questions I’m happy to answer them about Hollygrove school, it’s teachers or children that attended around this time frame
    Email or WhatsApp is better as I used both all the time


    1. Maureen my name is Madeleine i am a younger sister to Eamonn whom has given his experience of attending Hollygrove National school,i am currently going to put up a post on fbook about Hollygrove as a townland will be including this national school would appreciate you getting in contact with me as wish for anybody who knows the area to read my post on it my face book page is madeleine.hogan look forward to hearing from you soon take care regards


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