The School House in Ireland: Architecture and Meaning (contd…)
School house designs supplied by the OPW toward the end of the 19th century vary in form but maintain the same basic features; an entrance porch, a cloakroom, the classroom, tall sash windows, an open fireplace and high ceilings, wainscoting on the lower parts of the internal walls, a raised wooden floor, ventilation features etc. The architectural drawings were supplied and distributed by the OPW to locations around the country, and for this reason you can often find identical school buildings at opposite ends of the country. There were a variety of designs available through the decades, and it is often possible to date the construction of a school house to within a few years based on the form of the building.
Many of the school houses that were built ‘to-plan’ were extended and modified and many remain in use today. Often a modern school building will have an original 19th-century construction at its core. It is interesting that the many of the principle features of the early schools have been retained such as high ceilings and windows. These features reflect the ecclesiastical and monastic origins of school house design that persist to this very day. They also reflect the continuing control that Churches had on the school system.
Although there were architecturally elaborate school buildings (most often patronised by a local land owner), they more frequently comprised functional structures, usually lacking architectural ornamentation, and built to serve a small local population. Continue reading The School House in Ireland: Architecture and Meaning – Part 3→
Brooklawn National School, Fartamore townland, Co. Galway
In 1937 Margaret Dunne, (then only a school girl at Brooklawn NS) wrote of her local district: ‘All those old people can speak the Irish language… …a good deal of people went to America… …each farmer has only nine or ten acres.’ Brooklawn National School is situated in the townland of Fartamore in the parish of Kilconly in east County Galway. It is now derelict but in relatively good condition (although recently a large hole has been knocked in the rear wall). The place-name Fartamore means ‘great/big grave’. Like so many of the disused school buildings that punctuate the rural Irish landscape, Brooklawn represents a time now past when there was a need to provide easily accessible local education for the children of a rural farming population. Today its empty, collapsing shell also poignantly reflects social change and the impact of rural depopulation and migration to the larger urban centres in Ireland – the movement away from the land and farming.
Hollygrove National School, Hollygrove townland, Co. Galway
NGR: 178226, 257469
Like so many disused national school buildings present in the rural Irish landscape, the simple ‘to-plan’ architecture of Hollygrove and it’s isolated location in north Co. Galway reflects somewhat juxtaposed concepts of rural homogeneity (a school building like many others, built cheaply and ‘to-plan’ by the state administrators for a homogeneous local rural population) and the uniqueness of each rural area in its isolation (built in a isolated spot near the shore of Ballaghdacker Lough, seemingly far removed from the offices of design and planning – like so many other civic buildings planted in these locations from afar).
Above is the Second Edition 25 inch to 1 mile OS sheet for Hollygrove showing the location of the School to the southwest of Ballaghdacker Lough at the turn of the 20th century
Each of these schools is undoubtedly similar in a broad sense (each school was to serve the same general role as an institute of education), but also undoubtedly unique. For the casual onlooker today, this school house could be confused with many others of a similar design, however, for those children who attended the school, the building was unmistakable – identifiable through minor unique qualities or its landscape setting. Hollygrove, or sometimes Holly Grove, is a townland of 283 acres in Athleague parish, Killeroran district, Killian barony, Union of Mountbellew, in County Galway. The townland is on the border of Roscommon and Galway. Hollygrove National School is situated to the southwest of Ballaghdacker Lough in the townland.