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Extension celebrations at Ballyglass National School

NEARLY 18 months on from her last school opening in South Galway, Mary Hanafin TD was back cutting the ribbon in Ardrahan at the weekend. The former Minister for Education, now Minister for Social and Family Affairs, officially opened the new extension to Ballyglass National School, Ardrahan on Sunday.

It was a day of celebration, of recognising the contribution of the community, the board of management, the staff, the pupils, the parents, the clergy and local politicians.
On her arrival, Minister Hanafin was greeted by chairman of the board of management, Canon Richard Higgins, and school principal Joe Corry and upon being introduced to staff members, she proceeded to cut the ribbon to officially open the school. Along with four children – Seán and Enda Gardiner, Louise Finnerty and Emer Higgins – she unveiled a plague to commemorate the occasion.
Before mass, former pupil of the school and newly ordained Catholic priest, Fr Martin Whelan, blessed the school and grounds.
Mass was concelebrated by Canon Higgins, Fr Whelan, Canon Keogh, the retired parish priest of Ardrahan, and Craughwell’s parish priest Fr Michael Kelly.
Joe Corry spoke of his pride in the newly refurbished school. He complimented the board of management for their dedication to the project. He recalled 23 board meetings and paid special tribute to treasurer Bernie Higgins for her hard work in managing the finances.
Mr Corry acknowledged his staff for their co-operation and thanked the recently retired vice principal Áine O’Doherty for her dedication to the school.
Mr complimented those involved in a very successful fundraising day held in Ardrahan pitch in June where over €30,000 was raised.
Canon Richard Higgins, in his capacity as chairperson of the board of management, thanked Minister Hanafin for taking time to perform the official opening and also for her support of the school when an application was made for grant funding.
Canon Higgins credited Micheál Armstrong of Armbridge Construction for his work in building the extension, saying the school was a credit to him. He also thanked engineer Brendan Slevin for his work and advice.
As well as complimenting the teachers and parents, he paid a glowing tribute to the children of the school.
The new extension involved the building of a new classroom, support facilities, staffroom, basketball court, pitch area, dressing rooms and parking areas.
The project cost in the region of €550,000, of which around €400,000 was received in grant funding. A further €70,000 was raised through fundraising and local people contributed €80,000 worth of voluntary labour.
Canon Higgins complimented those who gave of their time in various voluntary jobs completed during the building project and recognised the contribution of Tom and Áine O’Doherty, retired principal and vice principal, who between them had given 77 years of service to the school.
Among those in attendance were Fianna Fáil deputies Michael Kitt and Noel Treacy as well as independent Galway County Councillor Michael Fahy.
Minister Hanafin addressed the large attendance and said she was honoured to have been invited to open the school and was delighted that she was in a position to help the school when grant funding was sanctioned when she was the then Minister for Education. She spoke with the children and praised them for their performances and said she got a strong sense of their pride in their school. She paid a special tribute to Canon Higgins on his dedication to his parish and recalled her previous visit to the parish to officially open the extension to Ardrahan National School, Labane.
Minister Hanafin also commended the work of Councillor Michael Fahy, whose mother was acquainted with her own, in lobbying for grant funding for the school at the time of the school’s application to the Department of Education.
Throughout the afternoon, the children of the school performed various pieces of music, song and drama under the supervision of their teachers. Music was also provided by a combination of past students, parents and friends.


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