Corvoy National School, Cornahoe townland, Co. Monaghan
NGR: 272335, 324722
Through the closing decades of the 19th century, there was a notable increase in the construction of new school houses in Ireland. During this time a number of ‘to-standard’ designs were utilised across the country including the detached eight-bay single-storey school house like example featured here from Corvoy in Co. Monaghan (built in 1902). Further almost identical schools can be found at Carrigan Co. Cavan (built in 1897) and Brooklawn Co. Galway (built in 1885).
Built in 1902 and replacing an earlier school house once located adjacent to the local Roman Catholic Church (see the First and Second Edition Ordnance Survey sheets above), this detached eight-bay single-storey school remains in good condition both internally and externally, and so it is a fine example of this ‘to-standard’ design’. It has a standard double entrance, one entrance for boys and one for girls. Sometimes there were local variations in the design, like the example from Gortahose, Co. Leitrim (built in 1890) with it’s centrally located doorway. Corvoy School includes a pitched slate roof with single red brick chimneystack to mid-roof, and cast-iron rainwater goods and harl-rendered walls, having carved stone date plaque to the centre of the front (west) elevation.
Inside, it is white-washed and bare, bright, but empty. It retains the majority of it’s original features including a built-in cloak cupboard inside the northern doorway. Outside, the surrounding rubble limestone boundary wall also separates girls’ and boys’ yards, and includes a post-Independence postbox, another common feature of schools of this era.
A wealth of local folklore recorded in the 1930s at this school survives in the records of the Irish Folklore Commission. 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. Below is slideshow showing just the first 18 pages of the records from Corvoy School which were recorded in 1939:
Opened in 1902, Corvoy National School replaced a mid-19th-century school building to the west, in close vicinity to the Church of the Holy Rosary. The form and layout of Corvoy National School is typical of an early-20th century rural Irish national school, many of which were built at this time to a standard design by the Office of Public Works. The plan accommodated two classrooms and cloakrooms, for boys and girls, within a symmetrical building. A dividing wall separated the sexes to the east, and a lean-to outbuilding acted as a lavatory. The original character of the school is intact, with original timber casement windows. The school is of architectural and social significance, its social function enhanced by the presence of a post-Independence post-box to the west wall to the school, a notable example of the high quality of mass-produced cast-ironwork produced in Ireland in the early 20th century.
Using data obtained from the National Inventory of Architectural Heritage, the pace of National School construction can be seen to wane after the turn of the 20th century. This type of ‘to-standard’ design is rarely used again after 1905.
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.