There will soon be a “remarkable” new beginning for Presentation College Athenry who received long-awaited news this week that it will finally have a brand new school building within the next three years.
Minister Ciáran Cannon made the announcement at a meeting held last Monday which was attended by many including County Mayor Cllr Michael Maher, former TD and minister Noel Treacy, principal of Presentation College Athenry Gerry Doherty, and chairperson of the board of management Paddy Boyle, as well as staff members and students. Minister Cannon, a past student of Presentation College Athenry, explained that the new school will be located on a greenfield site at Ballygurrane, Athenry, and will cater for the increase in population in the region and the need to develop school facilities that will provide the best possible education for students.
It is understood that the school will be 6,971sq m in size with a PE hall of 930sq m as well as having a special needs unit of 552sq m. It will cater for the enrollment of more than 1,000 students and will meet the needs of students not only in Athenry but from catchment areas extending from Clarinbridge to Abbeyknockmoy, from Claregalway to Kiltulla/Killimordaly and adjacent areas.
Chairman of the school board of management Mr Boyle welcomed the news describing it as an “historic” occasion. “It is an exceptional day in that the minister announces plans for our future development. It has been a long journey that began when the Presentation sisters came to Athenry in 1908. Today begins a new chapter in our excellent record of achievement in education in Athenry.”
“The recognition of the Department of Education and Skills of the need for change in our school in heartily welcomed. Our numbers have doubled in the last seven years. We now have an enrollment of more than 1,000 students. The numbers for September 2012 are similar if not a little higher. At this point we thank NUIG and their president Dr Jim Browne for giving us their old engineering block to accommodate our first year students. This building has been a great asset to our school. Nevertheless, as much as we appreciate our present buildings they are not fit for long term growth. Most of our accommodation is of a temporary nature and will not last into the future. This is why today marks a truly remarkable beginning for the ‘Pres’ in Athenry.”
Mr Boyle concluded: “The progression of our project has taken some time but time and effort have been rewarded. We pay a special tribute to Mary Forde former principal, Mr Luke Glynn, Mr Noel Treacy, former Minister, Noel Grealish TD, Michael Kitt TD, Frank Fahey, and Peter Feeney who have progressed the school project with an urgency and commitment only they could give. We also thank Ms Anne Kelleher CEO of CEIST and Mr Liam Dwyer CEO EDUCENA for their tireless efforts over the last couple of years in progressing our project. A special tribute is paid to the Presentation Order Northern Province for their support and assistance in helping us achieve our goal. The final push for this project has come from Minister Ciáran Cannon. He has taken on board the needs of this school and has been in constant touch with us. Today is the culmination of a combined effort that sees our own Minister make this announcement today.”
School principal Mr Doherty further explained the new school, located on a 20 acre site, will have all the facilities needed in a modern school including a state of the art building wtih playing pitches, recreational space with ample parking and easy accessibility.