Portlaoise children started school this week in the same 40 year old prefabs where their grandparents were taught, at Scoil Mhuire.
The shocking fact was revealed by Portlaoise PP Monsignor John Byrne this week, who says construction should begin before the end of September on new parish schools.
The two schools to replace Portlaoise primary schools Scoil Mhuire, St Pauls and the Sacred Heart are “on the verge” of construction he said.
“I had hoped the contractor would be on site by the time schools reopened, but there were odds and ends to tie up that were a bit more problematic than I anticipated. I might be optimistic, but I would hope they will be on site before the end of September,” Msgr Byrne said.
Roads to the new Junior and Senior schools are being built, and must be done before the contractors can move in.
The €13 million cost is being met by the Department of Education, while the €1.5 million site in Aghnaharna was paid for by the parish.
The build is expected to take 18 months, leaving another two years of cramped conditions for several thousand Portlaoise schoolchildren.
“All the schools are quite full, including Ratheniska and The Heath, with waiting lists. Some of the children will be going into prefabs that their grandparents were taught in, in Scoil Mhuire where some of the prefabs are 40 years old. Because of tender loving care they are in reasonable condition, but there are absolutely huge energy costs in heating them, and they require constant maintenance. Other children are in more modern prefabs,” he said.
In Scoil Bhride Knockmay last Friday, close to 800 pupils returned to be taught in eight classrooms and 30 prefabs.
Msgr Byrne hopes their new 32 classroom building will begin construction “during the school year”.
Last Saturday night at Mass in St Peter & Paul’s Church, a blessing of new schoolbags for Portlaoise children was held.
“I look forward to a good school year, and I wish the students all the best. We are blessed with marvellous teachers and ancillary staff, who have put up with difficult conditions for many years. I am grateful for all they do. I thought this would be over long ago,” Msgr Byrne said.