Irish Countryside: the Old Aghameen School

A schoolhouse ruin on the Cooley Peninsula near the Tain trail

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On Monday, June 9, 2014 John Mills, the first cousin of my mother, Catherine Wills nee McArdle, showed us the ruin of the schoolhouse used in the 1930 / 1940’s and which he attended as would Catherine if her parents hadn’t emigrated to Canada in the 1920’s.  Free public schooling was mandated in Ireland from 1831 and by the 1850s most Irish parishes had a schoolhouse, such as this in Ballymascanlon civil parish, as part of the National Schools.  When this piece was first published, Malachy Mills (a cousin), left a comment and clue…the name is Aghameen School.  The following information spooled out from that.

There is an Irish language site, Duchas.ie, with listings for Aghameen, a Louth township, the very one of the school and, very rightly, it is the name of the school.  There is even information from a teacher, Bean Ui Riada, who taught there 1937 – 1938, and posted information about local place names and legends.  Here is the link to his postings.  I learned from him that Aghameen is An tÁth Mín in Irish and means “field of the mountain meadow.”  You can see from the photographs the site is on the side of a mountain, pine forests all around.

Throughout her life my Mother had correspondence with her cousins who learned how to write in this very school.

The school existed at least since 1842. In private communication arising from this blog posting I learned a friend’s great, great grandfather, Denis Joseph Doherty, came from Donegal in that year to teach in the school and married a fellow teacher, Margaret Kane who was the girl’s school teacher. They raised a family while living at the school until moving to Jenkinstown. Margaret was from Jenkinstown, not far away and also on the Cooley Peninsula. They are Malachy Mills’ great, great, great grandparents through his mother.

Aghameen School is located on the Cooley Peninsula, County Louth, shown in the following Google Earth Image

Schoolhouse Ruin Overview from Omeath– CLICK ME!!!!

This is the exact location:
Latitude 54° 2’17.83″N
Longitude 6°16’3.08″W

To get there go to the cross-roads in Omeath and drive uphill for a few miles to a T-junction. Turn left and go through the Windy Gap past the Long Woman’s Grave (shown on the following Google Earth image). Take the right fork at the next Y intersection. Continue for 1.4 mile (2.26 kilometers) to a Y intersection, take the right fork. Continue .18 mile (.28 kilometer) to find the ruin is on your right.

Aghameen Schoolhouse Location– CLICK ME!!!!

I marked the a portion of the Tain Way with a red line where it passes near the Old Schoolhouse.

Aghameen Schoolhouse Location closer– CLICK ME!!!!

This is the road as viewed from the ruin looking south…..

Schoolhouse Ruin stone fence– CLICK ME!!!!

….and the distant view of the uniquely shaped peak Slievenaglogh to the southeast. Slievenaglogh in Irish is Sliabh na gCloch and means mountain of rocks. There is an identically named peak in the Mourne Mountains, to the north across Carlingford Loch. Slievenaglogh of Cooley Peninsula is an interesting element of south view from this valley.

Schoolhouse Ruin stone fence– CLICK ME!!!!

The ruin itself. Schoolhouse Ruin stone fence– CLICK ME!!!!

…behind a stone fence and gate posts.

Schoolhouse Ruin stone fence– CLICK ME!!!!

Overgrown with ferns, moss, grass…..

Schoolhouse Ruin stone fence– CLICK ME!!!!

…the ever present lichen.

Schoolhouse Ruin stone fence– CLICK ME!!!!

John’s son, Sean Mills, was with us.  That day, Sean lead us on Tain Way over the Golyin Pass over Slieve Foy with Carlingford as the destination.  Indeed, the Tain Way passes a few feet from this spot, being a loop of the Cooley peninsula. The Way is a two day walk, our starting point was a few miles from the schoolhouse.

Click for the previous posting in this series, “Happy Saint Patrick’s Day 2017”.

Click for the next posting in this series, “Annie Moore and her brothers”.Click for the next posting in this series, “Annie Moore and her brothers”.

Schoolhouse Ruin stone fence– CLICK ME!!!!

7 thoughts on “Irish Countryside: the Old Aghameen School

    1. Malachy, thank you for this helpful clue. I used to to discover more information about the old school and will add it to the piece. Will even change the title. The place names are interesting to me. You are are Oliver’s brother?

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  1. Hello Michael, very interesting article and photos. My father Patsy Mills who was a brother of John also attended this school. I remember him sending letters and cards to your Mum and uncle years ago and he always looked forward to receiving their correspondence. Sorry I missed you when you were home.

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    1. Good morning, Oliver. Thank you for writing and the kind words. My wife, Pamela, and I met your Mother and attended Mass together with herself and your sister. On our last full day we viewed our first and only rainbow over Ireland from the drive of Gabriel and Pamela’s home after a fine visit with your Mother and their children. The families were very hospitable throughout our stay. Thankful to have met John Mills and Betty, and were sorrowful to hear of John’s passing. We’d have liked to meet everyone and now you and I are in touch. Please send me your address via email to msw8738@hotmail.com. I will add your address to my correspondence list for Christmas and other occasions.

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