Scoil Bride Naofa, Cloonfree, Co. Roscommon
ING: 189028, 279829
Scoil Bride Naofa is located in the townland of Cloonfree, a few miles east of the village of Tulsk in Co. Roscommon. It is situated on the northern side of the modern N5 roadway that crosses the countryside from Dublin to the town of Westport in Co. Mayo.
This school house was constructed in 1951 and replaced an earlier school building located on the opposite side of the road. Scoil Bride Naofa is notable from an architectural perspective as one of the many national schools designed by the pragmatic civil servant and architect Basil Boyd-Barrett. Barrett’s approach to national school design was that fundamentals such as light, exercise and fresh air are provided to a minimum standard through the provision of defined component parts. How they fitted together depended on contextual issues and specific architectural judgement. The component parts of the building were arranged for the most part in a single stand-alone building on a green-field site. They comprise a single-story classroom block, usually with a pitched roofed and a lower circulatory block attached containing cloakrooms and toilets, usually flat roofed. Covered open shelters mostly removed from the main school block, supported on masonry walls and circular columns framed the external play space. In later years a water storage tower provided a vertical counterpoint to the horizontal arrangement of the school complex to complete the composition that is now infamous with primary education in rural Ireland.
This blog features numerous examples of Boyd-Barrett’s work. Once you can identify the basic components of his designs, it is easy to identify these schools in the landscape. Further examples can be seen at:
- Coolagh National School (c.1940), Abbeygormacan Parish, Co. Galway
- Ballymacelligott National School, Ballymacelligott townland, Co. Kerry (dated: c.1955)
- Carrowcrory National School, Corrowcrory townland, Co. Sligo (dated c.1955)
- Glensaul National School, Greenaun townland, Co. Mayo (c.1950)
- Saint Patrick’s National School, Gortatooda townland, Tipperary North (dated c.1955)
The example at Cloonfree is today in ruin, with the interior in a poor state of repair. Some of the original fixtures and fittings remain such as the heavy classroom doors.
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. If you would like to purchase the book The Deserted School Houses of Ireland, visit the shop page here.