Kerry Education and Training Board (Kerry ETB) welcomed the Minister for Education, Norma Foley, TD, for a topping-out ceremony to mark the completion of the structural works at the new Gaelcholáiste Chiarraí site on November 7th, 2022.
The new 75,000 sq. ft building will have the capacity to cater for 600 students. It will have 30 classrooms with specialist rooms for Art, Engineering, Technology, Wood Technology, Home Economics, Music, Science and Computer Science. Other onsite facilities include a canteen, student recreational areas, a sports hall, a fitness suite, performance space and hard surface play areas. Kerry ETB and Kerry County Council have worked tirelessly together on this project to overcome many hurdles and are both pleased to have the school nearing completion.
Minister Foley said: “Today is a historic day as we mark the completion of the structural works which will provide a state of the art building for Gaelcholáiste Chiarraí. This new building is richly deserved for the entire school community here in Tralee and I look forward to seeing students entering the new school next year.”
When welcoming the Minister, Cllr Jim Finucane, Chairperson of Kerry ETB, stated, “We are delighted that the building project is nearing completion. The construction of this new school building commenced on March 23rd, 2021, classified as the development of essential educational facilities during the pandemic. We expect to have the work completed for spring 2023. This new school building project represents a significant capital investment in Tralee. This building project is part of the wider current capital programme across the county by Kerry ETB valued at approximately €80,000,000.”
Ann O’Dwyer, Director of Schools, Youth and Music, added, “It is fantastic to be marking this momentous day for the new Gaelcholáiste Chiarraí School. This new state-of-the-art building will greatly add to the high standard of teaching and learning by providing excellent facilities for students and staff and allowing the school to provide a broader curriculum. Students from up to forty different primary schools attend Gaelcholáiste Chiarraí. We look forward to seeing that number grow with the new facilities in the school”.
Gaelcholáiste Chiarraí staff and students joined Kerry ETB staff, Management, and local public representatives for the event. Ruairí Ó Cinnéide, Principal at Gaelcholáiste Chiarraí, addressed the group as they gathered at the new school site. “The school community and the wider Pobal Gaeilge in Tralee are looking forward to moving into the new campus in the springtime. The new campus gives us the capacity to cater for the increased demand for Gaeloideachas in the town of Tralee and surrounding areas. The Gaelcholáiste is a pivotal institution for developing the Irish language in Kerry, and the new school will add to the development and capacity for the provision of Gaeloideachas in Co. Kerry. As language is one of the most important parts of any culture, Gaelcholáiste Chiarraí’s new school campus will play a crucial role in maintaining and enhancing the strong traditions and Cultúr Gaelach that already exist in Tralee town and the surrounding areas,” stated Ruairí.
In addressing the project’s progress to date, the Director of Organisational Support and Development, Maria Brennan, added, “This new school building project represents the largest single capital project completed to date by the ETB. The collaborative work of the buildings staff team, the design team, and Vision Contracting over the past two years since the commencement of the construction works has been excellent despite the challenges of the pandemic and global events. I know the staff and students are eagerly awaiting the completion, and based on the current schedule, we expect they will be in the new school building for spring 2023”.
Gaelcholáiste Chiarraí Students Council members had their first opportunity to see inside the new school building. Student Kiana Breathnach expressed her delight by adding, “Over the past few years, we have heard so much about the new campus and have watched the building taking shape from the outside. It is great to be here today to see the new building. It is huge compared to our existing school and so exciting to see the inside. The students eagerly look forward to moving into the new building. The sports hall with a balcony gym area, the excellent library facility, the new specialist rooms and all the additional space will be welcomed by all students. The ‘Slí na Sláinte’ walking loop meandering around the school grounds is a great idea for students and staff to get fresh air and have a little time off”.
Kerry Education and Training Board CEO Colm McEvoy acknowledged the work and the commitment to date in advancing the project to this stage, “I wish to thank Minister Foley TD for taking time to be here today. The Minster and her Department have been a great support with this project. The provision of the new school has steadily progressed over the last decade, greatly assisted by the collaborative work of Kerry ETB, Kerry Country Council and the Department of Education. The transfer of the site for the new school building to Kerry ETB by Kerry County Council was central in advancing this project. We are delighted to mark this significant milestone today.
“We look forward to completing the final phase of work with the new school planned to open to staff and students in the springtime. I wish to thank all involved in progressing the project, during challenging times, to this stage.”