lmost 170 junior infants walked through the doors of the brand new Holy Family Junior School in Portlaoise for the first time on Thursday, August 31.
The Holy Family Senior School is built on the same campus at Aughnaharna, Portlaoise.
In total, 1,400 Portlaoise Parish children are attending the schools at the Holy Family Campus.
Parish Priest Msgr John Byrne said that it is a huge achievement that there are no children in prefabs in parish schools in Portlaoise.
“I am very glad that after a long number of years there will be no child in a prefab in the parish schools in this town, that is a huge achievement, some of those prefabs were over 40 years old.
“The parish have provided the site at the cost of one and a quarter million and have put in another quarter of a million into this facility particularly the all weather pitch,” he said.
Fr Paddy Byrne said the inclusivity of the Catholic schools is very positive.
“Fr John Byrne has led from the front the whole task of educating children and waiting long long years, the government prioritised Educate Together and other schools to be built I think one thing that is very positive this morning is it that it eradicates the codology of secular media that says Catholic schools are exclusive clubs.
“We have children that are Syrian Muslims, lots of Catholics, Christians from all creeds, cultures and faiths and that is the strength of a Catholic school it is inclusivity, its sense of equality.
Antoinette McGowan brought her son Cian to school for the first time this morning. Cian’s big brother Eoin started fifth class in the brand new Senior School next door.
“The new schools are gorgeous, he is the last of three children so it is a bit emotional, it will be fine once he gets a bit older it will be just dropping off and a collection point but at the moment I will be coming into the classroom to collect him but it will be fine,” said Antoinette.
Kate McNulty Nolan was happy heading off to class this morning as her mother Angi McNulty and her grandfather Malachy McNulty were there to see her off.
“It is great, from a grandfather's perspective he is after putting eight through school. This is his first time in the Holy Family School,” said Angi.
Malachy McNulty joked that it was his first day in school.
Jackie Carroll is the Senior Project Architect for the Holy Family Schools, from McCarthy O’Hara Architects.
“It is particularly great because we are a local architect practice, we are from Portlaoise so to be able to work on a local school campus which is one of the bigger school campuses in the country is fantastic," he said.