AS Ennis National School prepares to move into its new school in Ashline later this year, there will be a chance this week for former pupils to take one last wander through the school corridors.
In 1973, the then Boys National School moved across the Kilrush Road to its current location and on Saturday, Ennis National School will celebrate 40 years of learning with a variety of events planned, including a school open day.
The school has been busy preparing a large collection of old photographs that will be on display and will no doubt stir up some happy memories for some of the school’s former pupils.
There will be a chance to relive good times at the school, check the register and even stand outside the principal’s office for the last time.
Past pupils will also be able to take to the field and remember sporting glories with a host of activities such as football, hurling and athletics planned.
A special ‘family tree’ featuring the names of families that have attended Ennis National will be on display and there are plans for a treasure hunt, with participants searching for clues around Ennis using their tablets and smartphones.
School principal Ray McInerney said there is a lot of excitement in the school, both with the upcoming celebrations and the move to the new building. “With the whole excitement of moving to the new school in Ashline and with the accelerated building programme, people have been saying to us that they would love to come back and have a look at the school here. It was with this in mind that we said we would have this open day and provide some opportunity for people to meet and to have a last chance to walk through the school. Maybe relive some of their childhood memories, catch up with old friends and reminisce.”
He added, “At the open day, people will have an opportunity to look at the classrooms, walk through the school, have a look at old photographs, find their names on the register. There are lots of activities planned.”
According to Mr McInerney, there has been lots of positive interest in the celebration.
“There are lots of people saying they would love the opportunity to come back here, not just from past pupils but also among our current parents, who are part of our current school community.
“This is a fairly significant event, given that we are moving to a brand-new school on a brand-new site. Once the doors close here, they will probably be closed forever.”
Mr McInerney said while the builders of the new school have a completion date of December, hopes are high that the big move could take place even sooner. “The builders are making super progress with the new school, they have a completion date of December but they are working on an accelerated programme and the builders, the Department of Education and Skills and the school board of management hope that we will be able to relocate in the autumn, possibly as soon as September.”
He added, “There is huge excitement all across the school, from parents, staff and children. This has been such a long process of talking about moving to a new school, going through the planning process and going through the design process and then to have seen the building just emerge so rapidly over the last 12 months. So it is a very exciting process to think that it is so close to completion and that we are possibly spending our last couple of weeks in the current building.”
The new €6.65 million school at Ashline is currently being constructed on a 2.34 hectare, fully serviced, green-field site. The works project involves the construction of a new 32-classroom school including ancillary accommodation. The design is of a St Bridget’s Cross layout – a central area with four separate wings of eight classrooms emanating from the core.
Mr McInerney said, “It is a fabulous building. The architects have been kind enough to bring the board of management and staff on site visits and everybody has come away with the overwhelming feeling that it is a fabulous building. It is really bright, it’s airy, there is fabulous light flowing through everything and it will be uplifting for everybody to be teaching and learning, in such a beautiful building.”
He concluded by expressing his belief that all that is good about Ennis National School will continue and grow at its new location.
He said, “There is a fantastic spirit in the school at present. It’s a really warm and welcoming school and I suppose one of the things I would like, as principal, is that we would keep the spirit and the warmth and the happiness that we currently have and bring that to the new school building.”
As well as the open day, there will be a mass at Ennis Cathedral and a social evening in the Old Ground Hotel.