Top school has to move days before term

One of Cork’s most prestigious schools has been forced to relocate from the city centre to an industrial estate just days before the new term.

The 400 girls at the €3,300-a-year Scoil Mhuire secondary school were only told of the shock move from the city centre to Blackpool yesterday by letter.

This followed an emergency meeting of the Parents’ Council on Wednesday night, where representatives were told a property the school had been renting since March could no longer be used by pupils. The move faces opposition. More than 50 angry parents met in Maryborough House Hotel last night. Afterwards, a spokesman for the parents’ council said that as far as they were concerned, the move was not a fait accompli.

The Scoil Mhuire campus is spread over four buildings at Sidney Place — just five minutes’ walk from Cork city centre. Two buildings are closed for renovation. As a result, more than 100 students were being taught in a rented building on the same street. It is understood the school wanted to have additional works completed at this premises but the landlord refused to let the works go ahead and abruptly ended the lease agreement in July. The school spent the past four weeks looking for alternative accommodation.

However, no suitable building could be found in the city centre. The school has now leased the former VEC building at the Sunbeam Industrial Estate behind Blackpool Shopping Centre — 2.5km away.

The school described the move to Blackpool as being “forced on us” due to this “completely unexpected and very difficult situation”.

In the letter, parents were given bus timetables to Blackpool. The school has also sought the services of a private bus company to take the girls to their new classrooms. Students will get their timetables for the academic year at the old premises next week and will be in the new location by early September. It is not known for how long they will remain at Blackpool.

The parents’ council spokesman said it collected suggestions and views of “alternative locations” from parents.

The council will be meeting the board of management and the principal today to update them on what happened at the meeting. He said that as far as parents were concerned the next phase was not decided.

“I would not think Sunbeam is a fait accompli. It is a fait accompli as of now from the school’s perspective but there are other suggestions being put forward here.”

One parent said there was extreme anger from some parents while others tried to be constructive.

“It’s simply a non-runner. It has not been properly thought through. We’re paying fees for this. We are not going to sit for 20 minutes in traffic in each direction.”


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