Students Dmitri Salyshka, Deborah Koumah and Kelley Guerin arriving at the new Choláiste Ciaraain campus this Monday morning | PICTURE: Brian Arthur
THERE were double celebrations for staff and pupils at one Limerick school this Monday morning as the phased re-opening of schools began.
More than 100 Leaving Certificate students at Coláiste Chiaráin in Croom returned to a very different environment – a brand new, state-of-the-art school building.
The group were the first cohort of students to be welcomed by Principal Gerard O’Sullivan and staff for the resumption of in-school teaching in the multi-million euro new campus.
Up to Christmas pupils at Coláiste Chiaráin had been attending the former school building at High Street in the village as work on the new €20m campus was continuing.
Subject to review, fifth-year students are expected to return to Coláiste Chiaráin in two weeks on March 15 with the rest of the school’s 750 students returning on April 12 - after the Easter holidays.
“Today is a really special day for our entire school community. It is with tremendous enthusiasm, excitement and optimism that we welcome our sixth year students to our new school campus. This occasion is not just a re-opening but the historic opening of a magnificent, extensive new school campus in Croom," said principal Gerard O'Sullivan.
Double excitement here in @colaiste as our Leaving Certificate students returned to school today and were welcomed to our brand new state of the art campus. @LCETBSchools @Education_Ire @Limerick_Leader @limerickpost @limerick_now pic.twitter.com/sLRBOW7QEi— Coláiste Chiaráin (@colaiste) March 1, 2021
“For now celebrations are curtailed, our focus is firmly fixed on the safe opening of our new building and on embedding the practices and procedures that will keep all in our care safe and well for now, and in the months ahead. We look forward with hope and optimism to celebrating this remarkable project with our school and wider community when it is safe to do so in the near future," he added.
The construction of the new Coláiste Chiaráin at a 22-acre greenfield site was a massive undertaking for the school’s patron Limerick and Clare Education and Training Board.
Commenting on the opening, its Chief Executive, George O’Callaghan, said: “This represents an investment of some €20 million of public monies. The design team, led by Healy Partner Architects and Clerk of Works, John Collins, have worked closely with the main contractor, MMD, to ensure an excellent quality of finish on all elements of the contract, both internally and externally. The end result is a state-of-the-art community college campus for the Coláiste Chiaráin school community.”
The multi-million euro development comprises of an almost 10,000m² two-storey building, with 50 classrooms, a dedicated Special Education Needs facility, PE and GP halls, a fitness suite, and dressing rooms, as well as six external ball courts, three playing pitches, and extensive parking and set-down areas.
This will facilitate delivery of the widest-possible curriculum to the school community, as well as enabling a diverse range of extra-curricular activities on the new school campus.
Construction commenced in October 2018 and, despite the challenges imposed by the pandemic restrictions last year, the new building was substantially complete and ready for students on December 18, 2020.
At the same time as the school contract was on-going, Limerick City and County Council was engaged in the construction of a new distributor road and this was completed to coincide with the handover of the new building in December.