There was a large attendance at the Grand Hotel in Tramore on Thursday evening last to hear of the local Gaelscoil’s plans to go it alone and build a new school, independent of Department of Education involvement.
Gaelscoil Pilib Barúin has been in existence since 1985 but is still awaiting a permanent building, even though it currently has an enrolment of two hundred pupils. The school’s Board of Management has decided to adopt a novel approach to procure a proper school for its premier location overlooking Tramore Bay.
In welcoming the large gathering, the school’s Principal, Daithi de Paor, spoke at some length about the frustrations they had routinely felt at the hands of the Department of Education and Science. (He also addressed a recent meeting of the Town Council on the subject, which was fully reported in this newspaper).
“We were in existence and thriving for eight years before the Department conceded that we were viable”, he told his listeners, and introduced his prospective partners – Waterford Leader and DBH Architects.
Donagh Ward, Cathaoirleach of the Parents’ Association, spoke of the excellence of the education provided at the school. “All we need”, he told the audience, “is a permanent structure and we can be one of the best schools in the country”.
Waterford Leader and Architects DBH outlined a slide presentation, showing many innovative and sustainable options that illustrated the possibilities for Pilib Barun’s beautiful location.
Among the large attendance were several public representatives. Senator Paudie Coffey said he was fully behind the school in its targets. “I came down here to learn what you are about and I have no difficulty meeting any Minister face to face in Leinster House to ask what’s causing the hold-up”, he said.
Local Councillor Joe Conway also addressed the meeting. Speaking in Irish and English, he described the provision of prefabs over the years as wastage, when what was clearly required was a proper building.
“There are 69 Gaelscoileanna in pre-fabs, some of them in that bind since 1983, and in the last eleven years close to €200 million has been spent on temporary buildings”, he said. “Allowing for cost fluctuations, that money would build around seventy permanent schools – in other words, money spent on prefabs could have housed all the Gaelscoileanna that are still out there in prefabs. This is not just improvident, it is utterly wasteful and surely a national scandal”, he submitted.
The meeting agreed to form a Design Consultation Team that would meet presently to move the project forward and, wrapping up, Daithi de Paor said he was heartened by the big turn-out and the strong offers of support.