Minister turns sod for much awaited development
Nine years after they were promised a new school, the sod was finally turned on the site of the new Scoil Phádraig National School in Westport.
Minister for State, Michael Ring did the honours on Friday morning to mark the commencement of the €3.5m school on the site of the old CBS National School on the Newport Road.
The construction phase of the new 16 classroom school is set to commence in the next few weeks and is expected to be completed in the next 15 months.
A past pupil of the school, Minister Ring said he was proud to turn the sod and joked there was no one more relieved than him.
“Congratulations to you for a long long road. I am very proud as a Westport native to be turning the sod for this school. In fact since I am into office I was never more proud and relieved to have this school in place.”
He congratulated the Principal, Fergus Seoige; former Principal, Stiofan Ó Morain, the Board of Management, steering committee, teachers and parents for all their work in securing the new school.
“These are volunteers who have worked on behalf of the community who have worked on your behalf. You have put in many hard hours with lots of annoyance but you kept at it and this is a great day for Westport and for the children here this morning. I hope they realise the effort put in to give you an opportunity to be educated in a good environment,” he said.
‘A happy school’
The ceremony was attended by the current pupils and teachers of Scoil Phádraig who walked from their current location on Altamont Street to the new site. Some of the pupils read out what they wished to have in the new school with some wishing for games rooms and libraries but fittingly they all wished for ‘a happy school’.
Scoil Phádraig was formed in 2006 following the amalgamation of the CBS boys school and the convent girls school and is the largest school in Westport with over 300 pupils.
At the time of the amalgamation, they were promised a new school but the project was delayed until the Minister for Education announced last year, it was to be included in the Schools Building Programme.
Principal Fergus Seoige welcomed all the guests to the ceremony including the contractors, Michael Burns and the design team and thanked all who worked hard in securing the new school.
Frank McCarrick, the Chairman of the Board of Management praised the work and commitment the staff put into the school while waiting for the new school.
“We have have been waiting nine years for this day and for eight of those years under Stiofan Ó Morain the staff have worked fantastically to keep the school up to standards. I want to commend them on their professionalism and especially for their forbearance and patience because we should have had our school a while ago.
“In those nine years an awful lot of work has been going on all of the time. There has been thinking and planning and lobbying. I want to thank Sharon McGreal of the lobbying group from the parents in getting us here today. All the letters written all the times we had meetings and strategies, it has paid off. I thank you all for that,” he said.
Before the sod was officially turned by Minister Ring, the site was blessed by local curate Fr Burns and Reverend Val Rogers.