Dundalk school's new €3.5 million extension starts today
Réalt na Mara National School’s €3.5 million expansion broke ground today.
This extension for the Mill Street school is being funded by the Department of Education. Yesterday, the school was visited by Paschal Donohue the Minister for Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform and Fine Gael TD for Louth Peter Fitzpatrick. The extension will include two new mainstream classrooms and five ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) classrooms.
Phil McCaul, Réalt na Mara’s principal, says that he is delighted that the school expansion is finally happening.
“It all started off with a prefab replacement scheme. There were two 6th classes in prefabs in 2012, and there were also ASD classes in prefabs at the other end of the school,” Phil explains. “At that point, our ASD classes were expanding and there was a need for further classrooms, we really were just making do.”
“We were granted funding but the development of the classrooms on the school would have been sporadic and haphazard,” Phil explains. “We went to the Department and presented a development plan which looked at the overall context, and the idea of rolling the funds together… it was really just common sense and the Department were on board.”
“We were also supported by Diarmuid Dullaghan, a Department of Education inspector, who made sure we were making the best use of our funds,” Phil adds.
“We also are making best use of the existing land behind the school,” Phil says. The Hospitalite House will be demolished in order to make way for the new development. “The Dundalk and District Lourdes Invalid Committee and the Order of Malta have been very supportive… I can see out the window now that work has just begun and they are already taking down the building,” he says.
“This will make way for a new car park at the back of the building, which will really help with traffic congestion issues,” Phil explains. “The buses for our ASD children will now be able to park at the back of the school and the children’s journey to the classroom will be much shorter and this will ease any difficulties they might have had previously, and give them more privacy.”
“We are grateful that all of the pieces of the jigsaw finally came together and we can make use of our existing space. The extension is set to be completed in roughly 12 months, but I expect to be comfortably sitting in our seats in the new classrooms in September 2019,” Phil concludes.