Crehana National School’s new assembly hall was packed to capacity on Friday afternoon last, as Minister Martin Cullen officially opened the school’s new extension.
New additions to the school located just outside Carrick-on-Suir, include a computer laboratory, improved staff facilities, a learning resource room, a new entrance, foyer and office.
The hall also boasts one of the best views enjoyed by any school in County Waterford, facing towards Cruachan Hill near Clonea and the Comeragh Mountains beyond it.
All classrooms in the school have also been revamped, made possible by a €750,000 grant issued by the Department of Education, as well as the significant fundraising efforts of parents and staff alike.
Minister Cullen said the extension represented “a fantastic facility for the children of Carrickbeg Parish, and one which will prove to be a most stimulating learning environment for the current and future generations of pupils to be educated here.”
School Principal Killian O’Reilly, who conducted fifth and sixth class pupils in a rendition of Beatles hit ‘A Little Help From My Friends’, thanked all who had made Friday’s event a reality.
With his brother Justin and aunt, Sister Benedict (from Tralee) in the gathering, Mr O’Reilly said the new extension represented “the culmination of many years of effort, organisation and planning to ensure that the best level of education can be delivered in the school”.
Board of Management Chairman Father Tom Flynn singled out the role played by retired Principal Eamonn Drohan (also present) “for his knowledge, foresight and vision to go to the Department of Education and fight our cause”.
Added Fr Flynn, who blessed the extension: “If there was anyone, as we say in Cork, who could get a person around to our way of thinking, it was Eamonn, and he knew how to get around Martin Cullen!…
“I would also like to thank the Minister for the effort he made in getting the Department to see the way we thought when it came to this extension.”
Sustained applause resounded around the hall as Mr Drohan’s sterling efforts were deservedly acknowledged.
“To Eamonn Drohan I would say this: there’s no doubting the esteem that you are held in here,” added Minister Cullen.
He continued, humorously: “I’d a whimsical thought while watching the dancers there a few minutes ago – that’s the way we should start a Dáil session every morning!”
Also in attendance were Deputy Brendan Kenneally, Senator Paudie Coffey and Councillors Mary Greene, Brendan Coffey and Sylvia Cooney-Sheehan.
Music, song, dance and a post-ceremony cup of tea made it a most enjoyable occasion at a school beautifully illuminated by the art work the pupil body busied itself with during April.
Through a primary school arts programme supported by Waterford County Council, Cork artist Rita Scannell engaged the 98-strong pupil populous in an enjoyable month of artistic endeavour.
And a selection of that work was presented as a memento to Minister Cullen by Mr O’Reilly, indicative of pupils’ “innate talent” which Deputy Principal Eithne Sheehan made reference to.
“Many famous pieces of art and sculpture by some of the most famous Irish people that have ever lived feature in my department,” said the Minister.
“I am both delighted and proud to receive this and I will waste little time in having it hung in my office.”
Seven young musicians at the front of the assembly hall brought the formalities to a close in a school described by a thoroughly impressed Minister as “a can-do” place of education.