AS confirmed in last week’s Clare Champion, the official handover of the new Ennis National School has taken place. On Monday, the new state-of-the-art building at Ashline was handed over to the board of management of the school.
The move has been broadly welcomed, with chairperson of Ennis National School Parents’ Association, Leahnora Clohessy, saying, “The usual buzz of activity around going back to school is more exciting this year, as children and parents look forward to seeing their new school.
“The children and their parents are really excited to see the new classrooms and facilities. Opening day will be a happy and proud day for all connected to the school, past and present. The parents’ association wishes the management and staff every success as they settle in.”
Chairman of the board of management, David Casey, said they are “delighted” with the new school.
Both he and principal Ray McInerney paid tribute to the Department of Education and Skills and Stewarts, the building contractor for the school design and for completing the building project ahead of schedule.
Mr McInerney said the school is beautifully finished, both internally and externally and will be a joy to teach and to learn in. He acknowledged the endeavours of the school community, parents, boards of management, Ennis parish and Killaloe Diocese for their concerted efforts over many years in facilitating the new school. Mr McInerney emphasised the school’s commitment to continue to provide an excellent education for pupils into the future.
Fr Tom Hogan, adm, Ennis Parish, expressed the parish’s appreciation “for all the effort and work that has been put into this, not only in the last year and a half but almost 20 years.
“It’s something that has gone on for several generations of pupils and a lot of effort and energy has been put in by various boards of management down through the years and by the present principal Ray McInerney and the previous principal, Garry Stack.”
He described the opening of the new school as “great news”, adding “the building looks terrific”.
“The tradition of Ennis National as a place of community, a place of great respect for everybody and a place of course of learning going back generations will continue in the new school.”
This marks the third move in the history of Ennis National School. Originally established in a newly-constructed building, the current youth centre on the Kilrush Road, in 1898, the school relocated across the road in 1972. Having again out-grown its building and facilities, the school has now relocated to Ashline.
In order to allow people to familiarise themselves with the new campus, a phased return by pupils has been agreed by the board of management. On Friday, August 30, all pupils in the upstairs classrooms (first, second, fifth and sixth classes) will return. On
Monday, September 2, senior infants, third and fourth will also return at the usual time. New junior infants will start school at 9.30am that Monday, once the other classes have settled in their rooms.
One huge benefit of the new location is the greater ease of access and increased parking. A concerted effort between Ennis Town Council, Clare County Council, An Garda Síochána and the school authorities relating to the travel plan has been ongoing all summer.
It is hoped that sustainable travel methods – walking, cycling, ‘walking bus’ and car-pooling – will be used by increased numbers of pupils in keeping with the Department of Transport’s Smarter Travel initiative. Róisín Ní Ghairbhith of An Taisce and Joan Tarmey, environmental officer with Clare County Council, are working with the school to achieve this.
Pedestrians approaching the school should cross the road at either the Cahercalla Cross traffic lights or at the O’Sullivan and Hansbury pedestrian crossing, where the school wardens will be on duty. There is a cycle lane and cycle stands for pupils travelling by bike.
Motorists should drive up to the school entrance and swing left into the car park. Stewards will be on hand for the first few days to give directions.
As part of its commitment that no family would be discommoded by the relocation, the board of management has arranged a school bus service to Ashline.
This service will begin in early September and will be operated by Ennis Bus Company. The bus will leave from Simms Lane (beside the town council offices) and carry pupils to Ashline in time for school. It will collect pupils from Ashline and drop them back at Simms’ Lane at 2pm (infants) and 3pm (older pupils).
There will be a very modest fee for this service and pupils will be issued with bus passes by the school in order to access it.
The design of the new school is of a St Bridget’s Cross, a central area with four separate wings of classrooms emanating from the core. There is wifi throughout and the original hall size has been extended by the board to facilitate full-size indoor games facilities.
The school pitch is currently being levelled and seeded and will be available next year. Meanwhile, Éire Óg GAA Club is making its pitches available to the school for this coming school year.