Tag Archives: Abandoned Schools

Shanvaghera National School, Shanvaghera townland, Co. Mayo

Shanvaghera National School, Shanvaghera townland, Co. Mayo

(dated 1935)

NGR: 141379, 285917

Shanvaghera National School, Shanvaghera townland, Co. Mayo (1935)
Shanvaghera National School, Shanvaghera townland, Co. Mayo (1935)

Shanvaghera National School is situated in the townland of the same name, just off the N17, a few kilometres north of Knock in County Mayo. Although the exterior of the building is not particularly striking, the interior is well preserved. The building is certainly in a ruinous state, with nature invading through the shattered glass and broken doorways. Nonetheless, original features such as the wooden partition that divided the main room into three classrooms, three original fireplaces, and a single school desk add wonderful atmosphere to this building. The separate entrances for boys and girls are to the rear of the school, and the numbered coat hooks once used by the pupils can be seen in the entrance hall. The suspended wooden floor was solid enough to walk on when I visited. The school closed in 1968/69.

Shanvaghera National School, Shanvaghera townland, Co. Mayo (1935)
Shanvaghera National School, Shanvaghera townland, Co. Mayo (1935) – The dry toilets and encroaching greenery

To the rear of the main building is the former toilet block where the wooden elements of the non-flushing latrines remain.

The building comprises a detached, five-bay, single-storey national school, built and opened in 1935, on a T-shaped plan with single-bay, single-storey, lean-to projecting bays centred on single-bay, full-height, gabled projecting porch; there is a seven-bay, single-storey rear (east) elevation. It has a pitched slate roof on a T-shaped plan extending into lean-to slate roofs centred on a pitched (gabled) slate roof with clay ridge tiles terminating in red brick.

Shanvaghera National School, Shanvaghera townland, Co. Mayo (1935)
Shanvaghera National School, Shanvaghera townland, Co. Mayo (1935)

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Sonnagh National School, Sonnagh Old townland, Co. Galway

Sonnagh National School, Sonnagh Old townland, Co. Galway

(dated: 1891)

ING:159573, 209055

Sonnagh National School, Slieve Aughty Mountains, Co. GalwaySonnagh National School is situated in the Slieve Aughty Hills on the border between south-east Co. Galway and north-east Co. Clare. It is one of a number of disused school houses located in the beautifully desolate landscape of the Aughtys. Like Scoil Cill Criosta and Reyrawer National School, Sonnagh National School stands in the low rounded hills of the Aughtys as a testament to the now dispersed people who lived and farmed in this area in the decades past. The now forested hill-sides are dotted with the ruins of former farmsteads. The former pasture and rough grazing lands have been sown with coniferous plantations, and the ubiquitous and imposing wind-turbines highlight the movement away from agrarian living in this area, as an alternative and profitable use is sought for this now people-less landscape. In the Aughtys, the result is an empty space, a desolate place where few people live. An unintended but welcome consequence of this depopulation is the creation of a welcome retreat from the ribbon development popular across much of the Irish landscape – though the anthropogenic forests bear a hunting watermark of former settlement, with field boundaries, bóithríns, houses, farms, and infrastructure such as disused schools, hidden throughout the forests. When Sonnagh National School was in use, this was a lived-in landscape which supported a scattered, largely agrarian population. With the movement away from this lifestyle, the landscape was emptied and the school was no longer needed. The plaque on the eastern gable of the building dates the construction of the school to 1891. It closed in the late 1950s.

Sonnagh National School, Slieve Aughty Mountains, Co. Galway II

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Slievereagh/St.Michael’s National School, Slievereagh townland, Ballyvourney, Co. Cork

Slievereagh/St.Michael’s National School, Slievereagh townland, Ballyvourney, Co. Cork

(dated: Late 19th Century)

ING: 118123, 078939

Scoil Micil Naomha, Sliabh Riabac Scoil Naisunta, Co. Cork

The ruins of Slieveragh/St. Michael’s National School can be spotted when driving from Killarney to Cork on the N22 – situated about 2.5 km before the village of Ballyvourney in Co. Cork. The school house is located just north of a re-aligned stretch of roadway, away from the modern carriageway. From the roadside, this detached, four-bay, two-roomed school building stands in open rough grazing, grey and weather-beaten, with boarded up windows and a collapsing roof.

Scoil Micil Naomha, Sliabh Riabac Scoil Naisunta, Co. Cork

Nature is creeping in through every available opening, with nesting birds now being the main occupants of the collapsing structure. Most notable in the hallway, are the heavily corroded numbered cast-iron coat hooks and fine tiled floor. From the hall, two small classrooms can be accessed with matching fireplaces in each. Inside the few remaining school desks have collapsed through the remnants of the suspended timber floor.

Scoil Micil Naomha, Sliabh Riabac Scoil Naisunta, Co. Cork

Scoil Micil Naomha, Sliabh Riabac Scoil Naisunta, Co. Cork

Scoil Micil Naomha, Sliabh Riabac Scoil Naisunta, Co. Cork

Scoil Micil Naomha, Sliabh Riabac Scoil Naisunta, Co. Cork

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.

Scoil Cill Criosta, Ballingarry townland, Co. Galway

Scoil Cill Criosta, Ballingarry townland, Co. Galway

(dated: 1931)

NGR: 156858, 213606

Scoil Cill Criosta - Scoil Naisunta, Co. Galway III

The Slieve Aughty Hills straddle the border between south-east Co. Galway and north-east Co. Clare. Desolate and empty of human settlement, this striking landscape comprises low rolling hills, damp peat-lands, forests and mountain streams, and offers a great stillness and a sense of solitude to visitors. The area features one of the most extensive forestry units in Ireland with 33,150 Ha of mountain land under management. A maze of forestry roads allow access to the interior of the hilly terrain where wild horses and deer roam the blanket peat, and the extensive forestry plantations are punctuated by wind turbines. Few people still live in this area, though the ruins of former farmsteads can be found among Coilte coniferous plantations. The village of Kilchreest is situated on the north-eastern edge of the hills, with the town of Loughrea lying to the north-east. The disused school house Scoil Cill Criosta  (Kilchreest National School) lies to the south of Kilchreest village at Three Kings Gap on lands that slowly rise toward the emptying hills.

Scoil Cill Criosta - Scoil Naisunta, Co. Galway II-I

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Drumatemple National School, Drumatemple townland, Co. Roscommon

Drumatemple National School, Drumatemple  townland, Co. Roscommon

(dated: 1935)

ING: 170915, 271742

Drumatemple - 2nd Ed OS Sheet

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.

Drumatemple National School, Co. RoscommonThe 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.

Drumatemple National School, Co. Roscommon - Hall

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.

Mastergeehy National School, Mastergeehy townland, Co. Kerry

Mastergeehy National School, Mastergeehy townland, Co. Kerry

(dated: 1870-1890)

NGR: 152038, 221360

Mastergeehy NS. Co. Kerry 1870-1890 Classroom Interior
Mastergeehy NS Co. Kerry

Situated 15 km to the southwest of Ballaghasheen Pass on the Iveragh Peninsula, modern-day Mastergeehy could just barely be considered a village in terms of its size. The ‘Kerry Way’ walking route passes through this tiny hamlet on the valley floor, bringing the occasional adventurous tourist. Steep, forested slopes to the northwest and southeast act to funnel the prevailing Atlantic winds through the area, and have given the townland its name (‘master of the wind’). With the exception of the local Post Office/shop (located in the front room of one of the handful of bungalows in the village), there are little or no services or distractions in this beautiful, sparsely populated and isolated location. Like at so many other of the disused schools that dot the rural Irish landscape, it is difficult to picture a time when there were enough children in this locality to support a school house.

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Ballycastle National School, Carrowkibbock Upper townland, Co. Mayo

Ballycastle National School, Carrowkibbock Upper townland, Co. Mayo

(dated: 1892)

ING: 110455, 337374

Ballycastle National School, Ballycastle townland, Co. Mayo

West of Killala Bay on the north coast of Co. Mayo is the rural village of Ballycastle. On an overcast day, the beauty of this place can be well hidden, and the village can appear unremarkable – despite it’s pleasant setting by the Ballinglen River which flows into the Atlantic nearby at Bunatrahir Bay.

Ballycastle National School, Ballycastle townland, Co. Mayo

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Lackagh National School, Knocknagroagh townland, Co. Sligo

Lackagh National School, Knocknagroagh townland, Co. Sligo

(dated: late 19th Century)

ING:170036, 321816

Second Edition OS Sheet

When traveling along the N4 from Sligo Town toward Dublin, six kilometres from the village of Collooney in Co. Sligo lies a less than noteworthy junction named Lackagh. Here by the roadside you will find a collection of disused buildings including the shell of a former pub/dance-hall, and a run-down old petrol station with the dial on the pump firmly rusted at 50p per litre for petrol. If you look a little closer, hidden behind the roadside undergrowth on the western side of the road is the dilapidated remains of a school house marked on the Second Edition Ordnance Survey Sheet for the area.

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Education is the movement from darkness into light – Allan Bloom

Porterstown National School Co. Dublin

Often the easiest way to identify whether a derelict building was once a school house or not is by the presence of windows that are not characteristic of a domestic structure. Light, and allowing light into the building were practical necessities before the arrival of artificial luminescence from the electric bulb.  For reading and writing, high windows allowed the optimum amount of light into the room throughout the day. Even today, it is recognised that maximising the amount of natural light in a school building is beneficial to the learning environment.

The form, style and placement of windows vary greatly from school to school, though many early school houses reflect an ecclesiastical genesis, with high pointed windows similar to those found in a church sometimes being present. Some can be ornate and intricate, with features such as switch-line tracery. An example of this from Tubrid National School, Co. Tipperary is shown below:

Tubrid National School Co. Tipperary

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Keeping the classroom warm during the winter months

Ballycastle National School, Co Mayo Fireplace

Even today with the wonders of central-heating, attending school through the cold winter months is a testing experience for many school children. Think back to what it must have been like before insulation, double glazing, and warm radiators were common place in the classroom. The fireplace is an almost ubiquitous feature in every school house built in Ireland through the 19th and into the first half of the 20th century. During this period, it was common for each classroom to have its own open fireplace to keep the classroom warm, though stoves could also be found in some schools.

Shanvaghera National School, Shanvaghera townland, Co. Mayo

As part of their contribution to the upkeep of the school, the parents of the school children were required to supply fuel through the winter months (in rural schools, this was typically peat turf) to heat the classroom as needed. Generally, the location of the fireplace at the head of the classroom meant that the teacher enjoyed the benefit of the warmth much more than the children. However, as a small comfort the fireplace was sometimes used to heat glass bottles of milk which each child often brought to school.

Loughwell National School, Co. Galway

Very often, supplying turf for the school fire amounted to the school children carrying a sod or two of turf to school each morning in winter. In some cases, each family who had children attending the school had to provide one cart-load of turf each year. When this was used, each pupil had to bring further fuel each day until the weather improved. Turf was often stored in the porches where the children’s coats hung. Continue reading Keeping the classroom warm during the winter months