a NEW look for Limerick’s oldest secondary school has been celebrated with a special ceremony at St Munchin’s College.
Minister for Education Jan O’Sullivan and Bishop of Limerick Brendan Leahy were on hand this Saturday to cut the ribbon after a €7.8 million refurbishment and extension.
They were joined on the feast of St Munchin (January 3) by 120 students and 200 guests, many of them Munchin’s old boys like Munster head coach Anthony Foley.
“It was a fantastic day,” said principal David Quilter.
“Our special guests were the minister and our patron, Bishop Leahy. We had mass in the college chapel at 2pm and we followed that with the cutting of the tape and a formal blessing at the front of the building. And that was followed by a reception afterwards in the assembly hall.”
The project took two years to complete and while the bulk of the cost had been met by the Department of Education, local supporters had also organised every kind of fundraiser to assist.
“It was a complete revamp,” explained Mr Quilter.
“From the roof down to the basement was completely ripped out. They started in 2012 by taking off the roof and did the entire top floor of the building which had been the old boarding school dormitories. After six months they gave us back about 14 new classrooms and then took away our middle floor and did the exact same thing. Six months later, we got the middle floor back and lost the ground floor for six months. Once that was revamped, they gave it back and went down into the basement.”
By approaching the project in that fashion, the builders were able to ensure a minimal disruption in studies.
“You would think that with having 600 lads on a building site it would be disruptive but it actually worked very well. The fact that we have plenty of space here as well meant we managed to do the whole thing without using one prefab,” Mr Quilter said.
The only entirely new building is the sports hall, which includes dressing rooms and areas for weights, strength and conditioning that will be of great use to St Munchin’s teams.
And the construction project has also allowed St Munchin’s to increase enrolment.
“When we started with the project, we were at a figure of 510 and over the last three years it has built up to just 600 this year,” Mr Quilter said.
And the numbers attending St Munchin’s are expected to exceed 600 next year.
Bishop Leahy said that two centuries and more after its establishment, he was delighted to see St Munchin’s “go from strength to strength”.
“I would like to say a big thanks to everyone involved in St Munchin’s College. As patron of the college, I really appreciate how much so many contribute to making the college such a fine and well-acclaimed school, ” said Bishop Leahy.
“One of the aspects that has struck me since I came to Limerick as bishop last year has been the number of men I meet around the diocese who tell me with great pride, ‘I went to school in St. Munchin’s’ – and then regale me with stories from their school days. I’m also conscious that St Munchin’s College, the oldest college in Limerick, has contributed a lot to the city and county and beyond. It is great to see the school going from strength to strength.”
Founded in 1796 as a diocesan college for young Limerick men entering the priesthood, St Munchin’s opened its doors to lay students early in the 19th century. It was situated at various locations around the city, including the current site of Henry Street garda station, before moving to Corbally in 1962.
The extension and refurbishment was designed by Healy and Partners Architects and built by L&M Keating.