On her last day before starting maternity leave, Minister for Justice and local TD Helen McEntee visited O’Carolan College, Nobber, to unveil the design for the long-awaited new school building and expressed her hope that one of her first engagements when she returns to work would be the sod turning.
Initially approved for a new school in 2014 and with planning permission granted in 2018, it has been a long time coming but the reaction from the students, staff, board of management members and parents present indicated it would be worth the wait as a virtual tour of the state-of-the-art building was projected onto the big screen.
Extending to 7,000 square metres, the new school building will be three-storey and include specialist rooms, science labs, arts and crafts room, home economics room, construction engineering rooms and a multi-purpose hall that will be big enough to hold the entire school community.
The existing hall was could only accommodate first years, transition years and some sixth years with the rest of the school watching this morning’s proceedings on screen in their classrooms.
Principal Brian Goggins said the unveiling was the culmination of a huge amount of work by the school, the Land and Buildings Unit of LMETB and the Department of Education and was an important step towards delivering the new building.
“It is a small rural school, not attached to a larger urban certain yet this school has always boxed way above its weight in terms of academic achievement, in terms of sporting prowess, in terms of its social justice and the way it interacts with its community. It is very proud moment and I know that students and incredible staff of this school will get the building and the school they so richly deserve,” he said.
Cllr Paul McCabe, Chair of the Board of Management, added: “Today represents the culmination of lots of hard work by lots of people. The new school building first mooted back in 2014 and received planning permission in 2018. Today hopefully represents the end of all those of the false dawns and set backs that have been experienced over the last number of years.”
As she unveiled the plans, Minister McEntee said the tender for construction was due back in December and that hopefully by next June at the latest, there would be “boots on the ground”.
“Over the past 10 years, I been very lucky to be invited into the school many times and I have always blown away by the fact that so much good work happens in what is a confined space. It is a testament to the students, the teachers, the principal and everybody involved in the school,” she said.
Martin O’Brien, Chief Executive of LMETB, recalled not only being a student and a teacher in the school but also standing in the same room for the last official opening when the then new school opened. At time, the late John Finnegan was principal and Dan Toole, who attended today, was deputy principal.
“Today we’ve moved on. The horizons have changed and we are going to build another new school. We are going to build a better one, we are going to build a bigger one and we are going to build it for the students of this locality,” he said.