TABLES AND CHAIRS lie empty in disused national schools across the country, covered in rust and dust as branches twist in through nearby windows.
Cork-based archaeologist Enda O’Flahety documents what remains of the desolate buildings in a photography project aimed at capturing the long decline of rural Ireland.
O’Flaherty began the project last year after coming upon an abandoned schoolhouse during a work field trip and realising that few modern visual records of such buildings exist.
He now spends many of his weekends travelling to photograph these deserted schools, found through either word of mouth, architectural archives or luck.
The small, typically single-roomed properties were vacated in recent decades as improvements in transport triggered the establishment of larger schools covering greater catchment areas.
Their ruins, in O’Flaherty’s words, are in many cases “a mark of rural depopulation where communities dwindled as young people chose to leave the countryside” for work.
His existing photo collection covers over 70 national schools and will form the basis of a new book he hopes to publish by the end of 2016.
Here are just some of the highlights.
Bundoran National School, Co Donegal
Cloghboola National School, Co Cork
Slievereagh National School, Co Cork
Whiddy Island National School, Co Cork
Hollygrove National School, Co Galway
Sonnagh National School, Co Galway
Eyon National School, Co Limerick
Ballymachola National School, Co Mayo
Lisglennon National School, Co Mayo
Shanvaghera National School, Co Mayo
Tullystown National School, Co Westmeath