An “historic day” for Ennis’ Scoil Chríost Rí took place on Tuesday, when Bishop Fintan Monahan performed the official sod turning ceremony to mark the beginning of construction of a new €5 million school building.
It is hoped that the new school will be ready to move into early next year, with school principal Gearóid Roughan saying the new school will be a “world-class education facility”.
Speaking to The Clare Champion during the ceremony, Mr Roughan said, “It’s an historic day to be turning the sod of a new state-of-the-art €5m school for the children, staff and parents of Scoil Chríost Rí. There are exciting times ahead for us and we hope to move into the new school in spring 2018. We are very proud of the school we have and all of the fantastic educational programmes we have here for children and parents. This new school will give us a platform for the further development of the great work that is going on here.”
Bishop Monahan expressed enthusiasm for the new school.
“I’m happy and delighted to see this project going ahead; they are my nearest neighbours. I’ve been in the school a number of times and there’s a great spirit and a great energy here. It’s great to see such a great facility and I hope it will be rapidly done. I’m looking forward to the opening and to the great work that will be done in the future.”
Cecil McDonagh, chairman of the board of management, commented, “Today marks a major milestone in the development of primary education on the western side of Ennis. The proposal to replace Scoil Chríost Rí has been in the pipeline for many years and today sees the first step in a new era of top-quality primary education in the town. The new school will serve to revitalise and support the existing top-quality teaching and learning at the school. The school, within walking distance of many residential areas in the town, is deemed to be a very positive asset, given its acknowledged excellence in the field of primary education.
“On behalf of the board of management, I wish to acknowledge the help and support the board received from many persons both professionally and in those in public life.”
He also paid tribute to the parish for its support and cooperation.
The new school project will not just increase facilities for Ennis’ school-going children. Under the building project, part of the old school building will be retained as an improved church and community facility. Fr Tom O’Gorman of the Cloughleigh pastoral area of Ennis stated that the building works are “terrific to see”.
He explained that the church building adjacent to the school will be enhanced and increased to include facilities such as meeting rooms, as well as access to car parking.
Councillor Johnny Flynn, member of the school board of management and of the new school project team, stated that the works are “fantastic”.
“I joined the school board of management over six years ago and saw at first-hand the great quality of education in the school but also the poor quality of the 1970s school and leaking prefabs. I was also glad to be part of a hard-working project team over five years with the teachers, parents and board to get to where it is now. It’s rising out of the ground and will be an attractive addition to the area and will complement the Junction building next door.”
The new school will comprise 12 classrooms with ancillary accommodation and car-parking space for 32 cars, with a total floor area of 2,348m2, which will cater for up to 300 students and 24 staff.
By Jessica Quinn