Sonnagh National School, Sonnagh Old townland, Co. Galway
Sonnagh 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.