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.
Cross National School, Cross South Townland, Co. Roscommon
NGR: 164621, 298618
The town of Ballaghaderreen is located in northwest Co. Roscommon, close to the borders of both Mayo and Sligo. Prior to 1898 the town and parish of Ballaghaderreen and Edmonstown were in fact part of Co. Mayo until its transfer to Co. Roscommon under the Local Government Act 1898. Like many smaller market towns in the midlands, Ballaghaderreen was a hub of activity in the rural landscape at the turn of the 20th century. Key to this was the fact that the town was served by the Midland Great Western Railway. The station at Ballaghaderreen opened in 1874 and served the region for almost 90 years. But like so many of the regional railway lines and stations, Ballaghaderreen Station finally closed along with the Kilfree Junction branch line in 1963.
The town is rich in vernacular architecture, largely dating to the 19th century. In 1837 Lewis’ Topographical Dictionary of Ireland described it as ‘a thriving market town in the west’. This was no surprise as at the beginning of the 19th century Ballaghaderreen had been re-designed by Charles Strickland, an agent for Lord Dillon of Ballaghaderreen. The modern character of the market town is still visible today, and the town has an well organised streetcape. The street and place names reflect many of Strickland’s efforts to formalise the layout of Ballaghaderreen. Strickland was responsible for the building of a market place called The Shambles with 16 lock-up stores. Strickland was also instrumental opening the railway line for the town, allowing merchants to transport their goods.
En route to Kilfree junction, the train stopped at Edmondstown Station, just a few kilometres to the northeast of Ballaghaderreen, and not far from the Edmondstown Demesne. In 1786 William Wilson referred to Edmondstown Demesne as the fine seat of Mr. Costello – the Costello’s being settled in Roscommon and Mayo from at least the early 16th century.
Like Ballaghaderreen, the landscape of Edmondstown is dotted with handsome vernacular buildings dating to the late 18th and 19th century, including a small school house in the townland of Cross South.
Drumatemple National School, Drumatemple townland, Co. Roscommon
ING: 170915, 271742
Situated about a kilometre outside the Co. Galway village of Ballymoe but just across the county border, Drumatemple National School lies near the roadside of the N60 in Co. Roscommon. A plaque next to the door dates this two-room, detached, single-storey school house to 1935 though the Second Edition OS sheet shows that there was a school building at this location at the turn of the 20th century.
The school house is boarded-up and today used for storage. However, it is in a relatively good state of preservation with much of the interior still surviving and much of the original furniture still present. The record of ‘pupils on roll in the ordinary national schools of Co. Roscommon in the year 1890’ shows that this was a busy school house – with a size-able attendance of 172 – most likely servicing the nearby village of Ballymoe.
With the windows heavily boarded up and the rooms in total darkness, only a handful of long-exposure photographs managed to reveal the interior of the building. Painted in bright blue and yellow, it is clear that this building did not change much since it’s construction in 1935.
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.