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Photos: Inside the abandoned schoolhouses of rural Ireland

Archaeologist Enda O’Flaherty’s photography project captures the ruins of old national schools left dotted across the Irish countryside.

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

Capture Source: Enda O'Flaherty

Cloghboola National School, Co Cork

dsc03857 Source: Enda O'Flaherty

Slievereagh National School, Co Cork

adsc03109 Source: Enda O'Flaherty

Whiddy Island National School, Co Cork

Capture Source: Enda O'Flaherty

Hollygrove National School, Co Galway


Sonnagh National School, Co Galway

sonnagh-national-school-slieve-aughty-mountains-co-galway Source: Enda O'Flaherty

Eyon National School, Co Limerick

adsc01455 Source: Enda O'Flaherty

Ballymachola National School, Co Mayo

Capture Source: Enda O'Flaherty

Lisglennon National School, Co Mayo


Shanvaghera National School, Co Mayo

Capture Source: Enda O'Flaherty

Tullystown National School, Co Westmeath

20160217_224247 Source: Enda O'Flaherty

For more of his work, follow O’Flaherty’s blogFacebook page or Twitter account.

Read: The GPO’s flashy new 1916 exhibit is a cross between Rebellion and Call of Duty

Read: Nine free and easy ways to learn about Irish history online

About the author:

Catherine Healy

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