A REDEVELOPED astroturf facility was officially opened last week at St Patrick’s Comprehensive, with much praise for the generosity of Ei Electronics, who funded it.
Ei Electronics has made substantial contributions to numerous local organisations over the years, doing a huge amount to improve the social fabric of Shannon and the wider region.
St Patrick’s Comprehensive principal Mary Costello said the school community was very grateful for the support.
“Ei Electronics are market leaders in fire and gas detection but they are also world leaders in their incredible social consciousness and community efforts,” she said.
“Ei is renowned for their vision and commitment to their local community and we are humbled that we were chosen to benefit from that generosity.”
Speaking about the development of Shannon, the Comprehensive and Ei Electronics, Ms Costello said, “St Patrick’s Comprehensive school was the first comprehensive school in the country, established in 1966 and like Ei has committed to quality, innovation and partnership.
“The Comp was unique in pioneering a new form of education in Ireland which was both expansive and inclusive. It was very fitting that Shannon was chosen as the site for both the Comp and Ei.”
“Shannon itself was an innovation, a new town where community spirit was forged not by history but by the desire of people coming from all over Ireland and the world to seek out new opportunities.
“Our town has developed because of people like Mick Guinnee and founding principal Diarmuid O Donabhain and all those who set up clubs and societies and schools and parish councils.
“Our community has come together because of a hunger for connection and partnership, from a desire to make it work, to build a new town and community and it has flourished and maintained by the people here today who represent just a small portion of our town’s community spirit. Today is a celebration of community partnership and the future.”
Sally Fox is the chairperson of the school’s student council and at the event, she said, “For the past three years the astro turf has been in a state of disarray and students were unable to use it for PE or any after school activities.
“This great inconvenience hugely affected the morale of the school and as a result of the astroturf being out of use, many sporting teams did not have a place to train. Thankfully due to the generosity of EI the astroturf has been renovated and will now be in full use for all students once again. Students now have a safe facility to practice sport which is a huge asset to the school community. Once again on behalf of the school I would like to wholeheartedly thank Ei for sponsoring the restoration of the astroturf.”
On the day presentations were made to Dean Flynn of Shannon Jets basketball, Dara Gough and Martin McNeilis Shannon Musical Society and Muse Productions and to Derek Clune of Shannon Tidy Towns, all in recognition of their work for the community.
There were also presentations to young sportswoman Amy Madden, and to Clare hurling manager and past pupil Brian Lohan.
There was also a presentation to local artist and past pupil Jake Justice, who the school had got to produce a painting celebrating Ei and Shannon.
“I was delighted when I was approached with this commission because I feel my time in the Comp really fostered creativity and really encouraged me to pursue art outside of school,” he said.
Praising Ei, he added, “Ei is one of the biggest if not biggest employer in Shannon, not only does it support Shannon through employment alone, but also through other investment in local causes such as this. In essence this painting is a tribute to that support.”
Ei Electronics chairman and chief executive Mick Guinee said the company was delighted to have backed the project.
“We had got a few letters that the Comp needed some assistance on fundraising, we came up and looked and after having a look we had no hesitation in saying that’s the project we want to get involved in. Sport is very close to my heart and a pitch like that in a school like this is absolutely essential.”
He said that Ei is very conscious of the importance of supporting the wider community.
“It’s always been our philosophy to be involved in the community where we do business. We draw our employees from the Comp and throughout Shannon and the region and I think it’s only proper that companies do give back to the community and we’ve always given leadership on that.”
The school is set to carry out a number of additional developments including the provision of a sensory garden, provision of a polytunnel, converting a ball alley to an outdoor classroom and the installation of a walking track.
Owen Ryan has been a journalist with the Clare Champion since 2007, having previously worked for a number of other regional titles in Limerick, Galway and Cork.