ACROSS Ireland, small schools have fallen into a state of disrepair as they are replaced by bigger, more modern buildings.
But these desolate buildings – and what is inside them – have taken on a new lease of life in Galway archaeologist Enda O’Flaherty’s hauntingly beautiful photography project.
Mr O’Flaherty, 34, is a doctoral research fellow in NUI Galway’s archaeology department and is using his passion for photography in his work now with his picture blog.
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“I happened upon a number of these old school houses by chance while out with my camera and began to think about how many of these evocative buildings must be dotted around the countryside, and how their abandonment was representative of the movement away from rural living in Ireland,” he told The Irish Post.
“They struck me as particularly poignant places as relics of a disappearing rural settlement pattern.”
His first school to photograph was Reyrawer School in the Slieve Aughty Mountains, Co. Galway.
Hidden from view among a forest plantation, the school was deserted with no houses for miles around.
Since then, he has gone on to photograph more than 70 Irish schools – everywhere from Mastergeehy in Co. Kerry to Shanvaghera in Co. Mayo.
Mr O’Flaherty finds most of the schools by word of mouth – and he explores the Irish countryside on weekends in his car, on the lookout for more interesting schools to capture on camera.