The Leitrim Observer has learned that work is expected to begin next month on the long-awaited Community School in Ballnamore and, in further good news confirmed this week, over €485,000 has been sanctioned for a major redevelopment of the Rainbow Ballroom of Romance, Glenfarne.
Speaking to the Leitrim Observer this week, Ballinamore Post Primary Schools Principal, Padraig Leydon, said staff, students and parents were “absolutely delighted” to learn that construction was soon to commence on the town’s new Community School.
“It is still hard to believe that the school is becoming a reality after nearly 40 years of waiting,” he acknowledged. “I think that it will become a reality when we finally see the diggers on site in a few weeks.”
“The news is a relief to everybody concerned. Everyone was a victim, to some extent, of the delay in providing a new school, the children, the teachers and the community,” he said.
Students, teachers and parents had been campaigning for a new school for over 40 years and concerns had been raised over the safety of students who were forced to travel between three campuses following the amalgamation of post primary schools in the town.
“We are all looking forward to being able to teach in a 21st century facility,” he added, admitting that there had been constant fears that government cutbacks and tougher financial times would put a halt to the long-awaited project.
“There were constant fears that something would happen to stop the project, even though we were assured this wouldn’t be the case. I think the fact that we were waiting so long for it made it just so hard for us to believe this day would come.”
It is anticipated that the contracts on the project will be signed in four weeks time with diggers expected on-site by mid-November. The doors to the new school will open some time around Easter 2014.
A number of local representatives welcomed the news. Councillors Caillian Ellis, Gordon Hughes, John McCartin and Martin Kenny said that it was a very positive development for the area.
“I think we can all say that this school has been a long time coming but now the wait is almost over,” said Cllr Ellis. His words were echoed by Cllr Gordon Hughes who paid tribute to everyone who campaigned “so long and hard” for a new school and said it would bring much needed investment in the region. His party colleague, Cllr John McCartin agreed, adding that the relief felt by parents, children and teachers must be enormous.
Cllr Martin Kenny said that the “prospect of having site works commencing before Christmas would be a great advancement and give a little hope to people that some employment may be generated through this action”.
Deputy Frank Feighan also welcomed the news saying he looked forward to the day when students would move into the new facility.
There were also celebrations in Glenfarne after Minister for Environment, Community and Local Government, Phil Hogan sanctioned the approval of funding by Leitrim Development Company to Glenfarne Community Development Trust Ltd amounting to €485,349.37.
The project which centres round the redevelopment of the Rainbow Ballroom, will provide a flagship facility capable of supporting a wide variety of community activities and the recreational needs of the local community.
Spokesperson fro Glenfarne Community Development Trust, Cllr Sean McDermott, described the news as “better than winning the lottery”.
He thanked everyone involved in the project, especially LEADER, Glenfarne Community Devlopment Trust, the architechts behind the project and the Leitrim Development Company “who believed in the project from day one”.
He said that the news was especially welcomed as an initial application for funding had been turned down.
“We appealed this decision and we are absolutely delighted to now get this news,” he said. “We’ve had so many highs and lows with this project and this is definately a high point, it’s better than winning the lottery.” The Committee hope that work will commence on the project by early next year.
Senator Michael Comiskey also welcomed the news stating this “announcement is a substantial investment in Glenfarne and the wider cross border area and I look forward to the commencement of works.”