County Limerick school building for future with ‘buy a block’ campaign

Gerard Fitzgibbon

Reporter:

Gerard Fitzgibbon

AS it undergoes a dramatic overhaul that will pave the way for a brighter future, St Mary’s Boys NS in Abbeyfeale is keeping on eye firmly on its past.

AS it undergoes a dramatic overhaul that will pave the way for a brighter future, St Mary’s Boys NS in Abbeyfeale is keeping on eye firmly on its past.

At the moment, the school is in the middle of a €400,000 extension that will see it almost doubled in size and fitted with the latest advances in classroom technology.

In a bid to bridge a €50,000 funding gap, the school have decided to tap into its vast network of over 1,000 past pupils, including former rugby stars Phil Danaher and Seamus Dennison to the former Minister for Justice and Foreign Affairs Gerry Collins, with a special ‘Buy a Block’ campaign.

The chairman of the St Mary’s school board, Con Daly, said that the initiative will help them remain at the cusp of education in West Limerick for generations to come.

“We’re hopeful that it’ll work out. The idea is, if we can raise the money we need with this, it’ll save us having to keep going back looking for more down the line.

“We have to bridge a €50,000 gap between the price and grants we got. We looked at various angles, and we decided to try getting past pupils back involved.”

The ‘Buy a Block’ drive was launched at the school in Abbeyfeale last Friday, in the presence of dozens of pupils, both past and present.

The campaign received an immediate shot in the arm in the form of a €2,000 donation from the Abbeyfeale Drama Group, which was raised through their recent production of ‘The Buds of Ballybunion’ by John B Keane.

Mr Daly said that the starting model for the campaign will allow one past pupil to spend €100 on an engraved brick, which will form part of a special wall in the school extension.

While this is a guide price, the school are not going to limit how much or how little people want to donate to the project.

“For families with a few past pupils, there are different combinations they can look at. Now, if someone comes in to us and says they can only give €20 or €50, we’re not going to say no.”

Mr Daly added that the school’s vision of quality education has been vindicated in Department of Education inspections and reports, and will continue to serve them and the local community well in the future.

“We were above the national average in reading, writing and maths. It was a most positive report. We’ve very good teachers. As long as I’ve been on the board, we’ve never once had a parent come to me saying they’re unhappy with a teacher.

“This is what we’ve asking people to support,” Mr Daly added.