Portarlington’s population surged past the 10,000 mark in the 2011 Census, and the evidence was clear as 180 boys and girls began their school lives in Presentation Convent primary school last Monday, the highest number on record.
It was an increase of 60 per cent on 2011, when 112 junior infants started. There are now 613 pupils in the school, which moved to a new €4 million building on Station Road two years ago.
Principal Margaret Walsh was taking it all in her stride.
“It’s the biggest number we have ever had, 68 more than last year. We were well able to accommodate the extra numbers as we have a huge eight classroom extension. We have two PE halls now and two libraries. There is not a bother on them, they are absolutely wonderful, very well settled, all the teachers are delighted,” she said.
All applications from children who were aged over four years on April 30 this year were accepted.
“That is our enrolment policy, we were very lucky to be able to do that,” she said.
The principal of the 29 teacher school attributed the increase to the attractions of Portarlington for settlers.
“The population has exploded over the last few years, more and more people are coming to settle here especially from Dublin. We have plenty of different nationalities and we welcome all of them, we are very inclusive,” she said.
The increase will put even more pressure on St Patrick’s BNS in Port, already overflowing into the old girls school nearby. Once the boys are finished Senior Infants, they will transfer to the school, where two classrooms were condemned as unsafe due to sinking last year.
Ms Walsh said she would like to see the boys get a new school.
“It would be very important for them to get their new school as soon as possible,” Ms Walsh agreed.