Bunnanaddan National School, Ballynaraw South townland, Co. Sligo
NGR: 160854, 311897
County Sligo in the north-west of Ireland is undoubtedly rich in history, heritage, mythology and folklore. The dramatic and spectacular landscape rises from the wild Atlantic coast with expansive, sandy dunes and beaches, to the Tolkien-esque Dartry Mountains where every cave, cliff face and hill has its own unique story to tell. This environment lends itself easily to storytelling and the imagination, and it is easy to see why it has inspired and featured in a wealth of fantastical folklore throughout the millennia.
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Feohanagh National School, Feohanagh townland, Co. Limerick
NGR: 134051, 126163
The rural landscape of many parts of Ireland is punctuated by small villages which, for various reasons, have fallen into decline in recent decades. In west Co. Limerick is one such village; ‘Feohanagh’ (the place of the thistles) located 5 miles south-east of the town of Newcastle West on the R522 road to Dromcollogher.
The First Edition 25 inch map (1898-1907) shows that at the turn of the 19thcentury this little hamlet included a smithy, a post office, a terraced street scene, the local church, and a two-roomed school house. Today, no shops, post office or other services remain open here, though to the north side of the R522 are the remains of the disused two-roomed national school built in A.D. 1886.
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Tullystown National School, Tullystown Cross, Co. Westmeath
NGR: 244969, 279596
In 1837 the travelling antiquarian Samuel Lewis described the topography of Co. Westmeath as ‘diversified by hill and dale, highly picturesque in many parts, and deficient in none of the essentials of rural beauty, but timber’. Travelling north from the boglands of Co. Offaly into Co. Westmeath, there is certainly a notable change in the landscape – the brown watery flat-lands give way to green hillsides and winding roads which navigate the undulating farmland. Docile cattle peer over low stone walls, and traffic is largely agricultural.
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Whiddy Island National School, Trawnahaha townland, Whiddy Island, Co. Cork
NGR: 096974, 049791
Whiddy Island is a small, near-shore island located at the head of Bantry Bay in Co. Cork. Not far from the modern quayside and in the townland of Trawnahaha is a small late 19th-century one-roomed school house overlooking Bantry Bay below. Painted bright blue with a white lime-wash, in recent years the building had been used as a local museum though it has now fallen into a state of disrepair.
Like so many offshore islands in Ireland, the permanent population has dwindled through the 20th century and can no longer support a local national school. John Chambers’ “Islands – Change in Population 1841 – 2011” clearly shows the island’s decline from a peak population of 729 in 1841:
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