Finny National School, Finny townland, Co. Mayo
NGR: 102009, 258477
The wilds of County Mayo are spectacular. Along the rugged west coast the skyline is marked by the Partry and Nephin Beag ranges. On Achill Island, the northern slopes of Croaghaun mountain plummet from 600 m OD to the sea below, while on it’s southern side it shelters one of the most beautiful beaches in Ireland, Keem. To the southeast of here is Clew Bay with its plethora of low drumlin islands, while inland the landscape is dotted with rivers, lakes, bogland and the occasional turlough.
Lough Mask is located to the south of Co. Mayo. Along the lakes western shore is the village of Tuar Mhic Éadaigh, and if you ever get the chance, I would recommend the trip from here to Westport across the hilly and barren emptiness of Aughagower. The landscape comprises blanket peat that is unproductive, there are few homes though there are the crumbling ruins of many vernacular houses long deserted. Wild and ragged mountain sheep roam the narrow roads.
It is just south of this area that you’ll find the little hamlet of Finny. On high land, it affords spectacular views of a narrow part of Lough Mask. Almost directly across from Dead Island on the lake, and along the R300 road, is Old Finny National School. The building is disused now, and being so off the beaten track, it probably has very few inquisitive visitors.
The plaque on the school dates the building to 1946. However, a quick look at the First Edition 25 Inch Ordnance Survey sheet shows a school house in this spot at the turn of the 20th century.
At the time of the First Edition 25 Inch Ordnance Survey, a ferry operated at Bird Hill on Lough Mask, and the school was not easily accessed by road from nearby Clonbur. The area was rather more isolated than then than it is today.
The school house is a detached single storey building with just one classroom inside. Though it is fitted with indoor plumbing, dry toilets are located to the rear of the divided schoolyard. Honestly, I have to say that these toilets certainly had a wonderful view across the surrounding mountainous landscape.
Inside the building is empty with the exception of a partition in one of the corners. All furniture has been removed. At the gable end, paint peals from the breast of the fireplace while overhead a hole has opened in the roof. Sheds of broken glass are scattered on the floor.
If you or someone you know attended this national school, please do get in touch and share any stories, anecdotes, photographs, or any other memories you may have. You can do so here. If you would like to purchase the book The Deserted School Houses of Ireland, visit the shop page here.