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Ennis National School project back on track

THE Ennis National School new building project at Ashline, on a greenfield site donated by the Killaloe diocese, is once again progressing apace.
Fears had been expressed that the long-awaited school, costed at €6.7 million, may be stalled after architects and design team leader, Murray O’Laoire, initially appointed to oversee the project, went into receivership during the year.
However, pressure was brought to bear on the Department of Education and they
acceded to a request to assume the roles of preparing detailed designs. That development paved the way for the lodging of an application this week for planning permission for the alteration of the original footprint and floor area.
Following a number of meetings between all interested parties, it was decided to include an enlarged sports hall and changing rooms for use by both the school and the community at large.
These facilities are additional to the original design and plan and will have to be funded by the school. However, principal Ray McInerney is confident that any additional funding required will be found.
Mr McInerney said that following the disappointment that arose from the liquidation of the original architects, it was a great vote of confidence for the school that the department itself had undertaken to finish the design with the existing design team.
“We have used that time period to finalise our plans for an enhanced school hall, which will be one of the most spacious and generously specked out primary school halls in the country,” he added.
The new 32-classroom school will accommodate approximately 850 pupils. It is anticipated that the project will now go to tender in early January 2011, with start of construction planned for the second quarter of the year.
Mr McInerney acknowledged the efforts of all involved in regenerating the process, particularly Tom Plunkett and Clare Jones at the Department of Education and Skills, and senior department architect Tony Sheppard and his team for “their skills and creativity and commitment to advancing matters to tender stage”.
Chairman David Casey said the teachers and parents had shown patience and confidence in the board of management and he looked forward to an early construction start at Ashline, which would result in a school that everyone could be proud of.

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