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State of the art secondary school for Ballina

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MAKING PLANSRobert O’Reilly, Principal and Margaret Burke, Deputy Principal inspect the plans for the new St Mary’s Secondary School.

Michael Duffy


SAINT Mary’s Secondary school in Ballina were delighted to announce last week that they have been given planning permission to build a new state of the art secondary school building on a five and half hectare site in the town.
The new school will cater for some 650 students and will be the first of a new model of school in Ireland designed to meet the demands of new modes of learning.
The design is based on the updated, reconfigured and improved Department of Education and Skills classroom layouts and schedule of accommodation and will achieve enhanced flexibility and innovation in the use of space. The new school will house some 25 general classrooms.
The principal of the school, Robert O’Reilly, stated that St Mary’s Secondary School will probably be the first new school building to be built by the department with these enhanced specifications.
“The design of these learning spaces, drives and facilitates improved teaching through improved proximity, communication and sightlines between student and teacher. They also allow for shallow classrooms with better daylight and ventilation, layouts for improved accessibility and greater flexibility,” said Mr O’Reilly.
“This simple and innovative school design will create an energetic and welcoming environment, a suitable place for intellectual, creative, physical and social activity. A place that will facilitate collaboration, active learning and positive social interaction and provide flexibility to facilitate the demands of new modes of learning.”

Greenfield site
The site for the proposed new secondary school is a hilly greenfield site at Convent Hill immediately north of the existing St Mary’s School, Convent and adjacent schools.
The site measures at approximately 5.6 hectares and has been assembled from a large parcel of undeveloped land given by the Sisters of Mercy, to which they have added several subsequent parcels. This has been complimented by the securing of site access from the Sli Ectra road through the purchase and swap of lands facilitated by the Sisters.
A secondary cyclist and pedestrian access is made possible from the south via land transfer by the Sisters of a disused lane and adjacent land, connecting the school with McDermott Street, from which all the other schools are accessed. The adjacent playing pitch will also be transferred as part of the new school site to St Mary’s Secondary School. It is hoped that this pitch will be used as a community pitch between both the primary (Scoil Iosa), post primary school and also the community into the future
“The proposed St Mary’s Secondary School will be a significant new public building for Ballina town and its wider community,” added Mr O’ Reilly.
“Its position on the top of the Convent Hill, continues the tradition of fine school buildings along McDermott Street. Its scale and size has been carefully considered and designed to ensure that it’s appropriate to the surrounding area of Ballina and sensitive to its immediate context.  
“The proposed school has been designed as a courtyard building; composed of the classrooms organised over two levels in an L-shaped block and the shared spaces of GP hall, Multi Use Hall and sports facilities on ground level, wrapping around the courtyard on three sides. The external courtyard is open to the east providing spectacular views of the Ox Mountains,” added Mr O’ Reilly.

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