Shanvaghera National School, Shanvaghera townland, Co. Mayo
NGR: 141379, 285917
Shanvaghera National School is situated in the townland of Shanvaghera, just off the N17 – a few kilometres north of the village of Knock in Co. Mayo. Although the exterior of the building it is not a particularly striking, inside a combination of the well-preserved nature of the interior, the empty space within, and the early-morning light made for some pleasing photography. The building is certainly in a ruinous state, with nature making its way in through the shattered glass and broken doorways. Nonetheless, original features such as the wooden partition that divided the main room into three classrooms, three original fireplaces, and a single school desk added wonderful atmosphere to this building. The separate entrances for boys and girls are to the rear of the school, and the numbered coat-hooks once used by the pupils can be seen in the entrance hall. The suspended wooden floor remains solid enough to walk on without fear of it collapsing beneath your feet. The school closed in 1968/9 but a reunion for past pupils of this school was held in 2002.
To the rear of the main building is the former toilet block where the wooden elements of the non-flushing latrines remain.
The building comprises a detached five-bay single-storey national school, built 1935; opened 1935, on a T-shaped plan with single-bay single-storey lean-to projecting bays centred on single-bay full-height gabled projecting porch; seven-bay single-storey rear (east) elevation. It has a pitched slate roof on a T-shaped plan extending into lean-to slate roofs centred on pitched (gabled) slate roof with clay ridge tiles terminating in red brick
It has lichen-covered running bond chimney stacks with chamfered capping supporting terracotta pots, and cast-iron rainwater goods on timber eaves boards on box eaves retaining cast-iron downpipes. The window opes are square-headed with cut-limestone sills and concealed dressings framing the remains of six-over-six timber sash windows centred on four-over-four timber sash windows with six-over-six timber sash windows to rear (east) elevation. There are square-headed opposing door openings with concealed dressings framing timber boarded or tongue-and-groove timber panelled doors.
This is a dilapidated national school erected to a standardised design for the Department of Education (cf. 31307201) representing an integral component of the twentieth-century architectural heritage of County Mayo. A prolonged period of neglect notwithstanding, the elementary form and massing survive intact together with substantial quantities of the original fabric, thus upholding much of the character or integrity of a national school making an increasingly forlorn visual statement in a rural street scene. Shanvaghera National School was closed in 1968-9.
Some 30 familes lived in the townland/village of Shanvaghera at the time of the 1901 census in Ireland. Family names in the area included; Kenny, Neafcy [sic], Boyle, Lyons, Fitzmaurice, Gauly [sic], O’Brien, Judge, Muldoon, Carney, Lavin, Moran, Giffers, Gill, Quinn, Cannon, Walshe, Carney, Canfield, Campbell, Caufield, Kerons, Curry, Fleming, Rogers, Morley and Cunnane.
The Second Edition Ordnance Survey sheet for the area which dates to the closing years of the 19th century, shows that there was a school on this site before 1935, and in all likelihood the present building represents a renovated school house of late19th or early 20th century date. 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 Shanvaghera National School. Below is a rather blunt description of tamps in the locality from this collection gathered by Christina O’Brien:
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.