The Deserted School Houses of Ireland Book by Enda O’Flaherty from The Collins Press – September 2018

The Deserted School Houses of Ireland book was published by The Collins Press this past week September 17, 2018. You can order a copy (signed, unsigned or with a personal note) using the order form below (€20.99 + P&P) or from the SHOP page. It is also available in all good bookshops and from the usual online outlets.


A sincere thank-you (in no particular order) to all who have supported the disused schoolhouses project and this publication. Special thanks to all those who contributed their memories and thoughts over the past few years, and everyone I’ve chatted to on roadsides and elsewhere since 2014. Your support and encouragement meant the world to me. I’ll do my best to remember everyone: Clare Horgan, Joe Callan, Kathleen and James McTague, Joanne Curnan and the Corraleehan Historical and Cultural Society, Myra Reynolds, Pat Mulreany, Damien Shiels and the staff at Rubicon Heritage, P.J. Curtis, Lynda McCormack and the Institute of Archaeologists of Ireland, Mark Oldham, Petra Blomberg, Paula, Fiodhna, Ruth and all at The Collins Press, Máirín Uí Fhearraigh, Sonia Nic Giolla Easbuig, Amanda Clarke, Síle Uí Ghallchóir, Mary Galligan, Tanya O’Halloran, The Claregalway Historical and Cultural Society, Anne Mc Cann, Bill L. Wood, Catherine Molloy-Leavy, Carla Kirby, Joseph Tyrrell, Philip Butler, Teresa Reichenbach Parlette, Noah Dixon, Christopher Wayne, Rory McGinley, Dee Halloran, Simon Linnell, Ginger Aarons, Harry Reid, Sinead Boland, Lynda Cronin, Margaret O’Driscoll, Tony P. Quinn, Brian Ellis, Jay Henry, Jörgen Hartogs, Caroline Horan, Noelle Callaghan, Angela Power, Eva Ní Shuilleabháin, Greg Hayes, Kieran Ring, Garreth Byrne, Orla Peach-Power and the Virtual Heritage Network, Heritage Week Ireland, Anne Petrie, Kris Hirst, David Cowhey, Bernie Carney, Tony and the Mixed Messages Blog, Angela Gallagher, Jason Fallon, Pete McCarthy, Laurence Jones, Roscommon Town History & Heritage, Caoimhe Cronin and Dougal, Ian Russell, Donie Brady, Bernie McGovern, Vicky Droll, Patricia Higgins, David Donovan, Jean Schneider, Dennis Burke, Genie McGuire, Anika Burgess and Atlas Obscura, Mary Galligan, Geraldine Greene, Brigid Barry, Bernice Kelly, Noreen O’Rinn, Sean Nolan and Ireland’s Own, Kathryn Chou, Jerome Kelly, Bob Howley, Max Chevers, Laurence Jones, Patrick Balester, Lorna Elms, Paddy Kilbane, Patrick Duffy, Sheila Flanagan, Paul Schneeman, Tanya O’Halloran

Deserted schoolhouses case

The Deserted School Houses of Ireland

  • Publication Date: September 2018
  • Extent: 256 pp
  • Dimensions: 277 mm x 219 mm
  • Subject: Irish Interest
  • Evocative images coupled with former pupils’ memories and stories form a nostalgic celebration of a lost aspect of rural life
  • Includes a history of schoolhouses in Ireland and the reasons for their decline, as well as background information on individual schools
  • Features a national spread, from the fishing villages of the Atlantic coast to the wealthy farms of the midlands, and from the borderlands to the islands

Beside yon straggling fence that skirts the way,
With blossomed furze unprofitably gay,
There, in his noisy mansion, skill’d to rule,
The village master taught his little school
Oliver Goldsmith, ‘The Deserted Village’

Schoolhouse ruins are a common sight in the Irish countryside, wherever populations are in decline and the fabric of what was once a vibrant community is slowly perishing. Within their collapsing walls, friends were made and lessons were learned. Belief systems, traditions and moral codes were imprinted on young minds. These schoolhouses had a significant impact on generations of pupils, whether they still live nearby or have emigrated to faraway lands.

However, little or no research has been undertaken into the social and cultural significance of these institutions. Only some are recorded in the National Inventory of Architectural Heritage, and they are afforded varying degrees of protection on architectural merit only. Once pivotal to their communities, they now lie abandoned.

Enda O’Flaherty’s work as an archaeologist has brought him to the most isolated parts of Ireland, where he noticed and grew ever more intrigued by these ubiquitous features of the landscape. He began actively seeking them out, photographing over 240 in total, researching their histories and interviewing those who attended them. In exploring the buildings, he was also collecting a treasury of childhood memories. A former student from the now uninhabited island of Achill Beg recalled a teacher called Mr McNamara who was ahead of his time, using the building in the 1940s as a night school to teach adult islanders to read and write.

After setting up a blog to record his discoveries, the compelling material O’Flaherty had uncovered began appearing in national outlets such as The Irish Times and, as well as international publications like Lonely Planet and Atlas Obscura. More and more locals came forward to share their stories. Each empty building has a story to tell, and gathered in this thoughtful collection, they whisper a poignant narrative of a disappearing Ireland – of changing needs, desires and ways of life.

Enda O’Flaherty is the founder of the Disused Schoolhouses blog ( He has spent over a decade as an archaeologist in Ireland and abroad, studying the remains of settlements from the distant past. His explorations of Ireland as a wandering archaeologist gave him a wish to better understand the deep and defining importance of the interaction between people and landscape. He lives in Cork.

To order, please fill out the order form below and I’ll get back to you to confirm your order, and to arrange payment. For now, I can only accept payment through PayPal.

Postage and Packaging is for delivery by standard mail: Ireland- €4.55; Great Britain- €5.50; Europe- €5.50; Rest of the World- €5.95;



7 thoughts on “The Deserted School Houses of Ireland Book by Enda O’Flaherty from The Collins Press – September 2018”

    1. Hey Paul – My goodness, that seems like an age ago – I think I had only just had the idea of photographing school houses at that time. I passed by the following year and popped in but there was no one home I think


  1. Hi Enda I am actually painting a mural , of what an old schoolroom would look like, in a restored school house in Castlepollard. It is being restored by members of tje Men’s Shed which has been founded there. I found some of your images on the net and am finding them an invaluable reference . So would love to have the book.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Enda, did you get around to the ruined National School in Creeslough (Donegal)? It’s on the brow of the hill as you enter the village coming from Barnes Gap. Quite badly gone now. My grandfather was a clergyman from Ballyarnett just north of Derry and he regularly went grouse-shooting with a Derry tea importer called Heinemann in the early 20th Century. They took the Londonderry and Lough Swilly railway to Letterkenny where they hired a pony and trap to travel the road to Dunfanaghy. One weekend somewhere round the 1920s, the heavens opened as they approached Creeslough, so they tied up the pony and trap outside the school, posed as school inspectors and inspected the school. They received red carpet treatment, complimented the children on their achievements, gave them a half day and then went on their way after the shower was over.
        Best regards,
        John Gregg


      2. John, that’s quite a story – I must remember that tactic if I’m ever caught out in the rain in Donegal. I haven’t been to Creelough NS but i’ll add it to the list. It would be nice to match that story with the location


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s