Brockagh National School, Brockagh Lower Townland, Co. Leitrim
NGR: 201431, 337272
The little village of Glenfarne is located in north County Leitrim, surrounded by rolling drumlins and boggy lakelands that are so characteristic of this part of the country. The soil quality is poor, the lands are often damp and unproductive, and in recent decades, much of the landscape has been planted with vast expanses of commercial forestry in an effort to put the landscape to some commercial purpose. Leitrim is the least populous county in Ireland – often the butt of the joke in regional banter and rib-poking. But I don’t think anyone there really cares about that. In reality the county offers wonderful lakeside isolation, with forest-covered hills over-looking small hamlets, vernacular houses and ruinous clachains. It is a peaceful landscape, and though it can be harsh during a long winter of short evenings, in summer the still lakes glisten in the sunshine without the disturbance of excessive tourism.
The village of Glenfarne is probably best known as the site of the original “Ballroom of Romance”, which inspired a short story by William Trevor and was subsequently turned into a movie by the BBC. The story itself is a little grim; set in rural Ireland in the 1950s, the lead protagonist Bridie has been attending the local dance hall for years in the hope of finding a good husband who can help work her family’s farm. Now surrounded by younger prettier women at the dances, she comes to the realisation that all the good men of her generation have emigrated or have been spoken for; and her only remaining hope for marriage is with the alcoholic and unreliable Bowser Egan.
The story of The Ballroom of Romance is set in a landscape of rural decline and emigration – common themes of rural Ireland that are particularly strong in Co. Leitrim through the 20th century. Glenfarne was once serviced by the Sligo, Leitrim and Northern Counties Railway line from Eniskillen to Sligo. The line opened in January 1880 and finally closed on 1 October 1957. A sawmill and creamery operated adjacent to the railway line, and a tourist hotel was located in the adjacent townland of Sranagross. And just to the south of the railway in the townland of Brockagh was the the old two-roomed school house – Brockagh National School, built in 1885, but now empty and abandoned. Continue reading Brockagh National School, Brockagh Lower Townland, Co. Leitrim→
Drumreilly National School, Kilnacreevy townland, Co. Leitrim
NGR: 219888, 312629
Every now and then I find myself on the road when I chance upon some old empty school house by a roadside somewhere. I wouldn’t say that I’ve become obsessed with these abandoned buildings, but it recently occurred to me that in the past 12 months I’ve visited just over 100 tumbling down ruins of old schools, and that at the moment I feel compelled to stop and take a quick look around when I do accidentally stumble across one. While travelling from Ballymote to Armagh last month, I happened across a late 19th-century school house in the townland of Kilnacreevy in Co. Leitrim.
County Leitrim is Ireland’s least populous county, predominantly rural in character, with Carrick-on-Shannon being the only sizeable town of note. However, the countryside is stunning in an understated way, defined by rolling, boggy drumlins with small lakes interspersed between. The land is agriculturally poor, and the hollows between the drumlins tend to become water-logged and boggy. In 1837, the antiquarian Samuel Lewis described the region as ‘generally wet, sour, and moory’.
I feel Samuel Lewis was a little unfair with his description of the region. In the area around Garadice Lough on the Leitrim/Cavan border, meandering country lanes navigate the hillocks and lakes, and lead from one small village to the next. It is on the northern shore of Garadice Lough that you’ll find Kilnacreevy townland; a place that hasn’t changed much in the past 100 years.
It was just a little over 100 years ago that a small one-roomed school house was built here overlooking the lakeshore. It is located on the northern side of the modern R199 road. The school building comprises a detached, single-storey, three-bay,one-roomed school house of rubble and brick construction, with a pitched slate roof. The date plaque indicates that it was constructed in 1887. It is near identical in form to the example from Sonnagh Old in Co. Galway, and in a similar state of decay. Continue reading Drumreilly National School, Kilnacreevey townland, Co. Leitrim →
Just a few miles south-east of the town of Ballinamore in Co. Leitrim, and set amongst the rolling, boggy drumlins and frequent small lakes, is the small rural village of Corrawaleen. During the first part of the 19th Century a small school house was located in the village and is marked on the First Edition Ordnance Survey map for the area. However, in 1890 a new school house was built in the nearby townland of Gortachoosh just outside the village.
This school house still stands today. Though derelict and beginning to collapse, inside, it is in good condition, and the echoes of past schooling can almost be heard amongst the scattered school furniture. It bright daylight, the school rooms seem vibrant still.
Carrigeencor National School, Carrigeencor townland, Co. Leitrim
NGR: 184325, 333970
Carrigeencor National School is located in the townland of Carrigeencor in Co. Leitrim. The surrounding landscape comprises rural blanket bog with a sparse population. Nonetheless, Carrigeencor is one of two school houses located in the area, the other being Kilcoosey National School just 1.5 km away. Leitrim has suffered from rural depopulation more than most counties and today it is difficult to imagine that this area once required two schools.
The school house comprises a detached single-storey one room building with a lower projecting pitched-roof gable porch, and a rear extension with a lean-to roof. It has a pitched roof and the walls are rendered and scored to imitate cut-stone blocks. It was constructed in 1872. There is a low coarsely built rubble and mortar wall to the front with a wrought-iron gate. To the rear is the former toilet block. It is a simple stone and mortar construction with brick lintels over the doorways and a sheet-metal roof that has managed to stand the test of time. Continue reading Carrigeencor National School, Carrigeencor townland, Co. Leitrim→
A disused National School at Tullaghan, Co. Leitrim
(Dated mid-20th century)
ING: 179441, 358747
I passed this disused National School just outside the seaside town of Bundoran in Co. Donegal early one Monday morning. It is situated just off the N15 on the Sligo side of the town. It had no name plate or date that I could see, though it appears to be a recently abandoned mid-20th century school house.
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.