WORK on a new haul road to facilitate the long-awaited start of construction on the new €25 million Ennistymon Schools’ Project is scheduled to start next week.
The Department of Education has confirmed work on the site of the new Ennistymon Campus started on June 1, and The Clare Champion has learned from informed sources this involved a lot of preparatory tasks.
Responding to Clare Champion queries, the Department stated the new campus will cater for 750 post primary pupils and Ennistymon Primary School – a primary school to cater for five mainstream classes as well as one classroom unit for children with special educational needs on the same site.
It estimates it will take about two and a half years to complete this project, which will facilitate the construction of the largest post primary facility in North Clare.
It involves the long-awaited amalgamation of Ennistymon CBS, Ennistymon Vocational School and Scoil Mhuire Ennistymon and a new primary school, which will be co-located at the site of the previous convent grounds on the outskirts of the town.
The Department is not in a position to advise how many people will be employed during the lifetime of the project as this is a matter for the main contractor and their sub-contractors.
Scoil Mhuire principal, Seosaimhín Ui Dhomhnalláin, acknowledged the new Ennistymon Campus project has had a long gestation, with evidence of minutes of a meeting highlighting the need for a new amalgamated educational facility in 1971.
“This is wonderful news for secondary school students in the locality. The new school will have outstanding facilities and the best selection of subjects for students in the county.
“The staff in the three schools are very committed to ensuring a smooth transition to the new post primary school; planning for this is underway and a steering group has been established.
“We are working on common policies and we have the excitement of selecting new uniforms.
“There has been considerable local consultation in relation to the planning and design of the new school with the boards of managements and trustees of the schools. This didn’t involved the local community.
“The new school will bring us into the 21st century.”
Asked about concerns in relation to the adequacy of the proposed playing pitches, Ms Ui Dhomhnalláin acknowledged further work is required in relation to this issue and noted the schools expect further consultation between the Department of Education and all interested stakeholders to progress this issue.
Ennistymon CBS principal, Mary Lyons, acknowledged the new school is a long time coming and has been the subject of meetings between the three schools in recent years.
Following the establishment of a local steering committee, she confirmed the schools were happy to re-engage with this process to continue the progression of this very important project to secure the best facilities for their students.
She said school projects of this scale generally take about two years to construct.
Once the new school is operational, she pointed out students will no longer have to go to different schools in the town for certain subjects and will have a great choice to choose from on the one site.
She pointed out the new school will provide a lot more space and facilities such as a proper canteen for the benefit of students and teachers.
Ennistymon Vocational School principal, Elizabeth Flanagan, said the new school will be a great development for the community.
Ennistymon National School principal, Helen Sheridan, said the schools’ project is the start of a very exciting new chapter for their school.
She said the current building was constructed in 1915, has educated generations and has served its purpose well.
However, it is now time to move to a modern 21st century primary school.
While the transfer from primary to secondary schools in the town has always been seamless, she said there would be a natural progression under the new arrangements.
Past pupils and former teachers are welcome to visit the school between 2 and 4 pm on Friday before it closes.
Ennistymon National School board of management chairperson, Gerry Reidy, said there will be new synergies when the three schools come together, while there will be continuity for students, having the new primary school on the same campus.
While some people expressed a view the new secondary school would not happen, he said the start of construction work is a testament to all the great work completed by all three schools to bring this project to fruition.
He said there would be an opportunity for stakeholders to engage in discussions about different options to acquire land for new playing pitches during phase two of this project.
“This is really a very good news story for Ennistymon and the North Clare area,” he said.
by Dan Danaher