Forty years ago Ireland became a member of the European Economic Community, Thin Lizzy and Chuck Berry were topping the music charts, Apollo 17 landed on the moon and the campaign for a new amalgamated school in Ballinamore was already in motion.
A lot has happened to Ireland, Leitrim and Ballinamore over the 40 year span but the quest for a new school has always been on top of the agenda.
This week the signing of the contract, the release of the finance and the opening of the site with fencing, equipment and workers at Lahard for the new Ballinamore PPS has brought great excitement to the locals and the area.
“We’re absolutely delighted that the development is actually taking place now,” Ballinamore Post Primary School Principal, Padraig Leydon, told the Leitrim Observer shortly after diggers began arriving on site.
“For a long time we campaigned for this and for a long time we were promised that something would be done and nothing much happened.
“I think over the years even the most optimistic of us had some doubts that this day would come but we delighted to see the equipment moving on site.”
Mr Leydon said there was not only great excitement amongst the staff and students at the school, but also in the wider community
“There is a real sense that this is a huge turning point for the community. It will be bringing an investment into the area and a new phase of life into Ballinamore, an area where there hasn’t really been that much investment seen over the last few years,” he said.
“This is a long-awaited day and it marks a massive investment in our community and in the education of our children.
“It really set us over for the future and for the future of our students and that is what counts,” he said.
Local Councillors, TDs, Senators and MEPs expressed their delight in welcoming the construction of the new Ballinamore PPS, the jobs boost and the money stream the building will bring to the town as well as the optimism and confidence the new school will give students, teachers and residents of Ballinamore.
Speaking at the signing of the contract, Theo Cullinane, BAM, Chief Executive said “We are pleased to be commencing work on eight schools around the country, adding considerably to Ireland’s educational infrastructure, which has been part of the fabric of the country’s success and growth to date. BAM will deliver schools of the highest quality – modern facilities which will facilitate the highest standards of learning.
“These projects will create employment across Ireland and retain the highly skilled design, construction and project management resources that were developed within this country in recent years.”
Minister for Education and Skills Ruairí Quinn TD stated, “This is very good news for the communities in counties stretching from Donegal to Waterford who have been waiting for their school building projects to be given the green light.
“The creation of more than 1,000 jobs is also a welcome boost for the construction industry, but ultimately the main beneficiaries of this project will be the thousands of students who will have state of the art school facilities in which to further their education, creativity and potential for many years to come.”