Offering lessons in symmetry, light and space, a former schoolhouse can make an appealing alternative to a bog-standard semi or terraced house.
It’s back-to-school time and while a lot of parents will be waving their kids off with a large sigh of relief, and be hopeful of getting some sort of rhythm back into weekdays, some savvy house-hunters are sharpening their pencils and starting to go through the roll of former school buildings.
With many of us having spent hours in our school days gazing at their internal features when we should have been paying attention in class, we’re well aware of just how spacious these properties are. With their big windows and high ceilings, school buildings offer the potential for lots of living space that can be set over different levels. They also offer refreshingly non-uniform layout options.
There are plenty of doer-uppers for sale both in towns and villages and across rural Ireland. While schools in urban and suburban settings might become available for sale following the development of larger and more modern facilities in the same area, smaller rural schools typically succumb to the blight of rural depopulation.
Usually detached, giving you additional privacy, they often come to market with some form of water connection as well as a decent playground-sized outside space. Some of the older properties have lovely stone boundary walls.
Seven school houses with potential
The Old School House, 1 Maree Road, Oranmore, Co Galway
€510,000, Lynch Auctioneers
Built in the late 1800s, this listed property remained a school until 1971, having been leased to the Department of Education for a peppercorn rent of a penny per annum from 1925 until it closed its doors. It was purchased by its current owners in the 1980s and they have turned it into a four-bedroom house of 167sq m (1,797sq ft) with a sizeable sunroom that spans the width of the property. BER exempt.
Old School House, Killashandra, Co Cavan
€295,000, Schiller & Schiller
This little stone-fronted school is situated bang in the middle of this lakelands village, so nipping to the shops for a pint of milk or a packet of crisps for your lunch won’t ever be a problem. Dating from 1876, the property is now a two-bedroom home with mod cons such as underfloor heating and an open-plan layout. Set on about half an acre of grounds, there are lake views to the rear of the property. BER exempt
The Old School House, Fieldstown, Monasterboice, Co Louth
€495,000, Robert B Daly & Son Ltd
While this property has a look of a convent about it, inside it offers a whopping 232sq m (2,502sq ft) of living space, with one of its original classrooms boasting a double-height space where the current owners have installed a beguiling viewing platform at mezzanine level from where, on a good day, you can see the Isle of Man. Built around 1881 when it had separate entrances for the boys, girls and teachers, as a home it now has four dormer bedrooms, having been refurbished in 2000 and further aggrandised in 2006. It comes with a small field, once used as a football pitch and now set out in meadow. BER C2
The Old School House, Lower Road, Strawberry Beds, Dublin 20
When the owner of this property bought it in 1998 his mother was delighted as she had attended the school and had fond memories of the place. Since reimagined by architect Coli O’Donoghue, this 189sq m (2,037sq ft) property has a double-height open-plan living/dining/kitchen area and four bedrooms, one of which is accessed via an azure blue cast-iron spiral staircase. From the porthole window in its ensuite bathroom you can see the River Liffey, just a field away. BER C3
Feddan House, Kiltegan, Co Wicklow
€785,000 , SherryFitzGerald
Set on 2.8 acres of lush private gardens, this cut-stone property began life as a constabulary as part of the Humewood Castle Estate. It also functioned as a two-teacher school that also offered teachers’ quarters and accommodation above its classrooms. Now a four-bedroom home of 213sq m (2,293sq ft) it has an additional 42sq m (452sq ft) of space in the form of a one-bedroom apartment where boomerang kids or those at university could live. BER E1
Aughavogue Schoolhouse, Killybegs, Co Donegal
€295,000, DNG Dorrian
Situated about two kilometres outside the fishing port of Killybegs on its Donegal town side, this cut-stone residence has been super-sized from its pretty, original cut-stone footprint, when the teacher lived above the classrooms. Now extended to a substantial 313sq m (3,375sq ft), the home boasts five bedrooms and an enormous, flagstone-floored playroom with scope to turn one of its wings into a self-contained unit. The property is set on more than 0.4 of an acre and is bounded by natural stone walls.
Former school, Kylepark, Borrisokane, Co Tipperary
€109,500, SherryFitzGerald Talbot
While there are many abandoned schools for sale across the four provinces, this one, a former agricultural school that dates from 1843, gets top marks for its handsome bones. While just a shell of a building, it is situated across the road from the national school and has stone-built walls, a slate roof and stone outbuildings. It comes with about an acre of land that is surrounded by a stone wall. Subject to planning permission, and very deep pockets, it has the potential to become a very smart home.
This former woodlands school in the Glen of the Downs, outside Delgany, Co Wicklow, looks nothing like it would have done when kids filled its classrooms. Vastly extended with a super-modern interior, it offers a useful example for those thinking of converting a former schoolhouse for themselves.
The property comprises four bedrooms and four bathrooms and is available for rent through through SherryFitzGerald for €7,500 per month, on a 12-month contract basis.