While many children around the country were scribbling Christmas wish lists to Santa for a coveted Frozen doll or the latest Lego kit, 315 young pupils at Scoil Phadraig, Westport, composed a heartfelt festive wish of a very different kind - addressed to the Minister for Education, Jan O’Sullivan.
The pupils have been waiting years for a new school building promised to them as far back as 2006 and they made for a colourful but determined parade as they marched their way to Westport Post Office last Friday to post their letter, asking the Minister to make their Christmas wish come true and sign off on their school building project.
The pupils must have made quite an impression.
Just a few days later, local Minister of State Michael Ring brought some very glad tidings - Scoil Phadraig has been approved for a new building and their project is to move to construction next year.
Minister Ring said he was “delighted” to see the project finally get approved.
“This news is very welcome for the teachers, pupils, parents, and everybody involved with Scoil Phadraig. The steering committee have put in a very strong campaign over the past number of years for the new school. I am delighted to see that it has come to fruition.”
“Dear Minister,” read the children’s letter.
“We have been very good boys and girls at Scoil Phadraig this year. In fact, we have been very good since our new school was promised to us in 2006 - but it still hasn’t arrived.
“It is getting close to Christmas and we are thinking of writing to Santa but this letter is more important to us.
“So please, Minister, can you listen to the boy and girls in Westport and grant us a special Christmas wish - our new school?”
Principal at the school, Mr Stiofán O Móráin, who is retiring today (Friday ) was deeply involved in the campaign to secure a new school building.
Scoil Phadraig has been approved for its new building in 2015 as part of a €450 million Government spend on school building projects next year.
Ballyhaunis Community School is also included in the projects approved.
Local county councillor John Cribben warmly welcomed the €7 million investment and said it is the first major injection of funding at the school since it opened in the late 1970s.
“Works are scheduled to commence in mid-2015,” he advised.