In 2008, the Irish Examiner revealed how Glenville National School, first promised a new building in the 1990s, was forced to convert a toilet into a classroom as the school, built in 1953, was unable to cope with the increasing demand.
The matter was subsequently raised in the Dáil during Bertie Ahern’s last Leaders Questions session by then-opposition leader Enda Kenny, who told the outgoing taoiseach the Glenville case was “a disgrace”.
Mr Kenny said, at the time: “Two years ago, the Minister for Happiness [a reference to then-Education Minister Mary Hanafin] wrote to the school in question and said work would start with immediate effect. The school raised €50,000 and made the site available, yet is on the front page of today’s Irish Examiner holding classes in a converted toilet. That this should happen in 2008 is a disgrace.”
Yesterday, however, school principal Michael O’Donnell confirmed construction finally started on the new site.
“This is a red-letter day for the school and the whole community. For too long, the children and staff of the school have had to learn and work in poor conditions. This project will mean a modern learning environment for future generations of pupils and teachers. We would also expect that the extended PE hall which will be part of the project will be of huge benefit to the wider community,” he said.
Chairperson of the Board of Management, Oliver Manley said the turning of the sod on the new site marks a historic day for the village.
“It marks the beginning of the end of a community-based campaign for a proper learning environment for our children,” he said. “Once construction is completed, we will have a state-of-the-art, modern school to serve the educational needs of the children of the area for many years to come. In addition, the board has undertaken the construction of an extended PE hall as part of the project. This will... be utilised by the community in general outside of school hours.”
Construction of the new eight-classroom school and PE hall is expected to take 18 months.