The news that Ballinamore’s new community school is due to be finished in just over 12 months time was buzzing around the construction site, last Wednesday, January 23 at the official sod turning ceremony.
After a wait of over 40 years, Bishop of Kilmore Leo O’Reilly threw the sod high into the air after he turned the first offical sod on the site of Ballinamore’s new Community School. Bishop O’Reilly represented the trustees of the three current schools operating in the town.
Speaking to the Leitrim Observer, Bishop O’Reilly said it was a “Wonderful day for Ballinamore.” He said although the construction of the new school was a “long time coming” it was great to finally see it come to fruition. He paid tribute to the community, parents, teachers and the whole town who “refused to take no for an answer!”
The sod turning was the latest in a series of steps which began in 1968 when the three second level schools in Ballinamore agreed to pool their resources in a fairly unique system of common enrolment. The official ceremony was held to the background of busy construction, with the foundations in, some basic block work started and floors to be set down in the next week, the building is already “ahead of schedule.”
Principal of Ballinamore PPS Padraig Leydon said he had received notice that the new school will be finished by February 12, 2014.
As Bishop O’Reilly dug into the ground and turned the sod, the attendants made up of Ballinamore PPS teachers, pupils, Parents Association members, local political representatives and invited guests tried to envision what the long awaited finished building will look like this time next year, on the vast site opposite Sean O’Heslin’s GAA grounds on the Swanlinbar road. All guests had to wear high visibility vests and hard hats as construction continued at the site during the ceremony. Deputy Frank Feighan attended along with a number of local councillors and representatives.
After forty four years of campaigning and waiting, Principal Padraig Leydon of Ballinamore PPS said “We are well overdue this new state of the art school.”
“Over the last twelve years in particular the entire community of Ballinamore has campaigned energetically for the provision of the new school. It is the selfless work of the school, the community and its leaders which has provided the backdrop to Bishop Leo O’Reilly turning the sod on behalf of school trustees, the Diocese of Kilmore, The Sisters of Mercy and Leitrim Vocational Education Committee,” stated Mr Leydon.
Bishop O’Reilly explained that the Diocese of Kilmore and Sisters of Mercy will appoint three members to the Board of Management, three VEC members have already been appointed, and they will join two teacher members and two parents on the board.
Bishop O’Reilly said although the three separate schools did a great job working together, he said the distance between the three schools was “impractical.” The bishop said he is looking forward to seeing the finished school and he expects to hear of some great success stories from future pupils.
BAM Public Private Partnership Company are the developers and builders who will both build and manage the school for the next 26 years.
In a statement to the Leitrim Observer Ballinamore School said they “look forward to working with BAM in the development of these facilities and the ongoing educational needs of the community.” The school also said they wish to continue their strong ties with the community as we “enhance educational opportunities for the students and adults of the area.”