Limerick school gets go-ahead after 12-year wait

Aine Fitzgerald

Reporter:

Aine Fitzgerald

AFTER numerous setbacks and a 12-year wait, the green light has been given for a new 16-classroom primary school in Kilmallock which will cater for the region of 450 pupils.

AFTER numerous setbacks and a 12-year wait, the green light has been given for a new 16-classroom primary school in Kilmallock which will cater for the region of 450 pupils.

Limerick County Council granted planning permission for the long-awaited new school, subject to 19 conditions.

The school is to be located on a green field site on the Glenfield Road south of the existing boys’ school. The works to be carried out include the demolition of the existing boys’ school after the new school has been constructed. The proposed school is a split level building, single storey at the entrance level with single storey lower ground level to the south and two storeys at the south east corner and includes six special education tuition rooms, a general purpose hall, special needs units, library and resource room, offices and storage areas, two external ball courts, and external play areas.

“There were a lot of planning difficulties associated with the site as it is adjacent to the old town wall,” explained Canon Willie Fitzmaurice, chairman of the board of the management of Scoil Mocheallog which lodged the planning application.

“We had to overcome very stringent planning obstacles and conditions. The school had to be a certain distance from the town wall’,” he added.

The next step in the project is the tender process which is to begin in the new year. “The design team will begin the tendering process. The estimate of the overall cost is given to the Department of Education and it is a matter of getting the final go-ahead from the government,” Canon Fitzmaurice explained.

At present, there are two school buildings catering for the 292 primary school pupils in the town. Children from junior infants to second class are taught in the old girls’ school building which was opened in 1929, while children from third class to sixth class are taught in the old boys’ school building which dates from 1966.

According to Canon Fitzmaurice a new school building is a “matter of high priority” given the current condition of both buildings, particularly the old boy’s school.

“A new school is badly needed for the children and the staff to provide a proper environment,” he said.

School principal, Michael O’Connor, said the cost of heating the building is extremely high. “You are trying to maintain a standard of comfort which is adversely affected by the structure of the building itself in its present condition which would be considered sub-standard to say the least. We constantly have roof leaks and things like that. Financially, it is becoming untenable,” he said.

“Scoil Mocheallog is maintaining two buildings under the one grants system,” added Sr Teresa Murphy who retired as the school principal last year. Sr Teresa who is the treasurer of the board of management has been spearheading the new school project along with Canon Fitzmaurice since 2000.

In 2001 it was decided to amalgamate the schools. The amalgamation of the schools began in 2004 on a phased basis and was completed in 2011.

The new school is to be set on three and a half acres.

“We are grateful to the landowner from whom we purchased the additional land,” said Sr Teresa.

It is understood that the department officials are looking favourably on progressing the project as quickly as possible.

It is expected that the school would be built over a 15 month construction period.