Killymarly National School, Killymarly townland, Co. Monaghan
NGR: 270176, 333199
Travelling east from Monaghan Town toward the border between the Republic and Northern Ireland, there is a small rural townland named Killymarly located on the northern side of the N 72. The surrounding landscape is characterised by elongated low drumlin hills, interspersed with damp bog-lands and small lakes. On the western side of one of these low drumlins, and set just off a narrow local road, are the crumbling remains of a two-storey school house dating to the mid-19th century. The building is marked on both the First Edition 6 inch Ordnance Survey Sheet (1834-1846), and the later 25 inch Ordnance Survey Sheet (dating to the turn of the 20th century), and the school was probably constructed in the 1840s.
Two-storey National Schools are less common in Ireland, and generally earlier in date than their single-storey counterparts. Externally, this example could easily be confused with a mid-19th century dwelling. The ground floor includes two classrooms and an entrance hallway. Remarkably, one of the classrooms retains three long school benches, two of which are in relatively good condition. Facing a now blank wall, it is interesting to wonder how many local school children had sat on these seats through the years, and to which corners of the earth they might have been scattered. And when was the last time the empty inkwells that are sunken into each desk held ink?
The empty first floor is accessed via an external stone staircase at the gable end of the building. However, the supporting joists are now decaying, with a danger of the floor giving way beneath your feet. At the far end of the room is the characteristic classroom fireplace.
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. The Irish Folklore Commission records from Killymarly have now been partially digitised. Taking a quick glance through what was easily available, there appears to have been a very Irish preoccupation with predicting the weather in the locality!
This well-composed modestly-scaled school was built to a simple domestic design. Prominently sited on the roadside, this building is highly visible in the surrounding landscape. 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.