Lonely Planet Writer

The haunting beauty of abandoned schoolhouses across rural Ireland

A photographer has shared a series of stunning images that show the haunting beauty of abandoned schoolhouses scattered across rural Ireland.

Drumlish National School in County Longford, Ireland.
Drumlish National School in County Longford, Ireland. Image by Enda O Flaherty
A sheep is seen inside a former school in Bunnadden in County Sligo.
A sheep is seen inside a former school in Bunnadden, County Sligo. Image by Enda O Flaherty
An old typewriter in Ballymackeehola National School in County Mayo.
An old typewriter in Ballymackeehola National School in County Mayo. Image by Enda O Flaherty

The series was created over the space of a year by Cork photographer Enda O Flaherty, and offers an intriguing look into what is hidden inside abandoned former elementary schools in counties such as Sligo, Cavan, Kerry, Longford, Leitrim and Cork. The project began almost by accident for the photographer, who was undertaking field work as an archaeologist when he came across his first abandoned site. The initial find sparked a deep interest in documenting history for Enda, leading to him visiting almost 150 abandoned schoolhouses over the past 12 months

Whiddy Island National School in County Cork.
Whiddy Island National School in County Cork. Image by Enda O Flaherty
Gortahose National School in County Leitrim.
Gortahose National School in County Leitrim. Image by Enda O Flaherty
Abandoned school ireland
Latton National School in County Monaghan. Image by Enda O Flaherty

“Contemporary ruins can provoke an unusual emotional response that is difficult to define. A familiar environment that has fallen into decay can be both unsettling and intriguing, inspiring fascination and fear as a tangible reminder of the scale of your own lifetime,” Enda told Lonely Planet News. Schools featured in the project include Whiddy Island National School built in 1887, located at the head of Bantry Bay in Cork, Drumlish National School in Longford, and a rundown former schoolhouse in Ballymackeehola in north-west Mayo.

rural Ireland Photography
Mastergeehy National School in County Kerry. Image by Enda O Flaherty
Shanvaghera National School in County Mayo.
Shanvaghera National School in County Mayo. Image by Enda O Flaherty
Whiddy Island National School, County Cork.
Whiddy Island National School, County Cork. Image by Enda O Flaherty

The pictures offer a unique and striking glimpse into the past, while Enda’s blog and writing offers intriguing historical context on each site. One of the schools that he visited in Monaghan dates back to 1890, while the photos from the series show former furniture, architecture and disused objects still in place at the sites. One classroom even features a blackboard with names still clearly visible on it from the past.

Latton National School in County Monaghan.
Latton National School in County Monaghan. Image by Enda O Flaherty
An old school desk seen in Gortahose National School in County Leitrim.
An old school desk seen in Gortahose National School in County Leitrim. Image by Enda O Flaherty
Killymarly National School in County Monaghan.
Killymarly National School in County Monaghan. Image by Enda O Flaherty

Enda plans to publish his collection of work in early 2017, while in the meantime more information on the project is available on his blog.