History

This page was formally archived on Friday, 9 June 2017 to commemorate the official opening of the new school building at Gaelscoil Philib Barún. The content herein is reflective of the journey that lead to that day and is being retained here for historical purposes.

Since its formation in 1985, Gaelscoil Philib Barún has been seeking the provision of a permanent home. However, despite year after year of campaigning and waiting, the school is still housed in a series of aging prefabricated structures. The full chronological history of the campaign for a permanent school building is cataloged below. A number of media articles spanning the same period are also available in the Media Coverage section of the website.

1985

Gaelscoil Philib Barún opens in September with 29 pupils and one teacher in Tramore House, Pond Road, Tramore. This accommodation was rented from Tramore Town Commissioners and because the school had only temporary recognition from the Department of Education, accommodation costs and rent were not eligible for grants.

1989

Gaelscoil Philib Barún moves its three teachers and 65 pupils to Stella Maris House, Pond Road, Tramore in September and rents three upstairs rooms from the Sisters of Charity. Conditions were far from ideal but parents and staff helped to install a storage heating system as well as paint and clean the interiors. A fire escape was also added.

Applications to the Department of Education for the usual grants for rent and improvement works were refused on the grounds that the school did not have permanent recognition, a status that was not granted until 1993. Thus, fund raising by parents during this period was vital as a local parish contribution was not forthcoming from parish authorities.

1992

A site at Crobally Upper (Site 1) was identified by the Board of Management for the school and a price was agreed with the vendor and the Department of Education, subject to planning approval.

1993

Planning was refused for a 5 classroom school on Site 1 at Crobally Upper. Reasons included the need for rezoning and the proximity to the then proposed ring road.

1994

A second site at Crobally Upper (Site 2) was identified and following prolonged negotiations a price was agreed subject to planning between the vendor and the Department of Education. As the site was to be owned by the Department of Education no local contribution was required.

1995

Planning permission was refused and appealed to An Bord Pleanála on the advice of the Department of Education where the refusal was upheld. Grounds for the refusal included contravention of zoning and increased traffic hazard on the ring road.

1996

A series of meetings began with council officials in an effort to identify a suitable site for a Gaelscoil in Tramore.

1997

Negotiations began with a number of developers involved in building projects in Tramore town and council advice was sought on all possible sites.

The Landlords of Stella Maris House informed the Board of Management that it saw the continued growth of the school in its present accommodation as unsustainable. An architectural survey of the building confirmed this and meant that renewing the lease agreements would become extremely difficult.

1999

Following consultation with County Manager, Dónal Connolly, negotiations began with Tramore Racecourse about the purchase of a site on its land at Crobally Upper, Tramore. In December of 1999 the Department of Education and Science was informed of the availability of a new site at Crobally Upper for immediate and quick sale.

2000

The Department of Education & Science instigated a study of the school’s demographics and projected growth in May. An 8 classroom building was recommended for a 2.5 acre site. The Board of Management expedited the study and sought to progress the sale. The Department of Education & Science informed the Office of Public Works in December that the site was available and asked them to contact the vendor.

2001

Delays in valuation officers visiting Tramore saw the price per acre double. In December, while negotiations were ongoing in Tramore between the Office of Public Works and Tramore Racecourse, Gaelscoil Philib Barún appeared on no Department of Education & Science list for site purchase or school building. This was rectified following representations made to the Department of Education & Science on behalf of the Board of Management.

2002

The purchase of a site is finally agreed but because of the urgency of the Gaelscoil’s accommodation needs, temporary prefabs are offered by the Department of Education & Science. The Board of Management reluctantly agreed but sought to have them placed on another site offered by the Racecourse for rent so that progress on a permanent building would not be impeded. This offer was refused by the Planning Section of the Department of Science & Education in Tullamore, Co. Offally and the Board of Management is instructed to appoint a project manager to place a prefabricated complex on part of the site being purchased.

Planning permission was sought for 9 prefabs and while permission was granted, the Department of Education & Science only sanctioned 7.

2003

Gaelscoil Philib Barún moves onto an incomplete site in January following prolonged delays and difficulties with some of the contractors working on the site. Gaelscoil Philib Barún’s pupil population begins to double in September. Site works remained incomplete and alternative contractors had to be hired. The purchase of the site was completed and is now owned by the Department of Education & Science.

2004

An application was made for additional temporary accommodation to address school growth. As a result, further site works and planning applications were required. The Board of Management sought to progress its permanent building project.

2005

The Department of Education & Science sought a new study of the school’s projected demographics. This was completed in May and forwarded immediately. There was no response from the Department of Education & Science.

2006

Following a change in personnel dealing with the Gaelscoil’s file in the Planning Section of The Department of Education & Science in Tullamore, copies of the studies completed had to be resubmitted. In November, the Department of Education & Science proposed that a 12 classroom building be built at the lands at Crobally Upper, to accommodate Gaelscoil Philib Barún. The Board of Management formally accepted this proposal by return of post.

2007

The Board of Management awaited the appointment of a design team and a technical visit to the site. A priority rating of band 2.2 was given to the building project by the newly set up Developing Areas unit of the Department of Education & Science. Representations were made again to public representatives to raise the matter with the Minister for Education.

2008

In March, Senator Paudie Coffey raised the school’s plight in the Seanad.

In April, a delegation from the Board of Management met with the Department of Education & Science officials in Tullamore and were given to understand that the school’s priority rating would be increased to Band 1.

In October, in answer to Dáil Questions, the Minister for Education stated that the school had a Band 2 rating. In response to follow-up queries with the Department officials, the school is told that no school is being progressed due to financial constraints. The school embarks on another intensive lobbying campaign with local TD’s and Senators and raised the issue with local press.

In November, the Board of Management sought the services of dhb Architects, Waterford in drawing up its own plans for a permanent building.

In December, the school was approached by the Waterford Leader Partnership about planning a Community facility along with the school building. An initial public meeting was then held in the school.

2009

In January, a public meeting was held in the Grand Hotel, Tramore to highlight the school’s 24 year wait for a permanent home.

Parents filled out a questionnaire on their requirements for a permanent building.

Pupils displayed their own school designs at an exhibition in Tramore’s Coast Guard Station.

Parents association sets up a publicity committee to propmote awareness of the schools plight.

A building subcommittee is formed to liaise with the architects and Waterford Leader Partnership.

The Board of Management writes to the DES outlining its collaboration with Waterford Leader Partnership and seeking permission to develop the design for the school and community project to present it to local planning authorities.

2010

No official response or acknowledgment of the Board’s letter is received and it is decided to seek a meeting with the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills, Mary Coughlan, TD in May. Finally in September a reply from the Department’s Capital Appraisal Section, Tullamore is received. The Board is told it must not engage an architect and should wait for its project to be progressed in the normal way. A reply from the Tánaiste reiterates this and says that it would be premature to meet with the Board.

The school’s campaign was featured in print media both local and national and also on local radio in November and December. Most notably the school was featured in the Irish Times on 30 December 2010 – an article which included our now infamous Question Mark photo.

2011

Gaelscoil Philib Barún received some long overdue and very welcome news on 26 January 2011, when it was announced we had been finally moved to the Architectural Planning stage, and that a Design Team would be appointed in 2011. The school also launched a special page on their website for the General Election.

A number of local newspapers (Waterford News & Star and Waterford Today) featured articles about the school’s General Election campaign in February 2011.

A technical visit from architects and engineers with the DES occurred on the 11th May 2011. Sean Breathnach, Chairperson of BOM, Daithí de Paor, Principal, and John Breen, Chairperson of the Parents Association, met with the Department’s delegation. No difficulty with the school’s project was seen and we were assured that that the project could proceed once the brief was finalised.

The brief reached Architectural Planning in November 2011.

The schools building project was posted on the Government eTenders website on the 8th of December 2011, seeking suitably qualified consultant Architects, Quantity Surveyors, Building Services (M&E) Engineers and Civil/Structural Engineers who wished to be considered for inclusion on a design team to oversee the building development project at Gaelscoil Philib Barún.

2012

A delegation from the Board of Management met with the Department of Education and Skills, Planning Section, Tullamore in January to view the submissions received from building services providers in reply to the eTenders advertisements. The appointment process progressed swiftly thereafter and a Design Team (including architects) was formally appointed on 12 March 2012.

However, on 13 March 2012, the school was dealt a devastating blow when it was revealed that we were to be excluded from the Government’s latest Five Year Building Campaign, despite receiving formal notification of the appointment of a design team the previous day. A public meeting was duly held at the school on Friday, 16 March 2012 which was attended by pupils, teachers, parents, grandparents and friends as well a number of public representatives including Ciara Conway, John Halligan, Paudie Coffey and David Cullinane. At this meeting, each of the public representatives undertook to set up a meeting with Minster Ruairí Quinn to discuss and review our case.

A Mass Postal Protest was also arranged in March 2012 where each family was asked to organise the signing of five letters by family and friends, with a view to sending up to 1,000 letters of protect to the department to highlight our case.

A small delegation from the school met briefly with Taoiseach Enda Kenny on Friday 23 March 2012 at the Carriganore Campus of WIT. Further details of this meeting can be found here.

On April 20th Minister Ruairí Quinn visted Gaelscoil Philib Barún and listened to teachers, pupils and parents expressing their outrage at the school’s continued exclusion from the Departments building lists. The Minister said that the school could be included in further additions to the lists and should progress the design process and seek planning permission. Coverage of the visit in the media can be accessed here.

July 2nd saw the Design Team present three costed plans to the Technical Team at DES, building Section, Tullamore. Significant comments were made and dhb Architects undertook to include these comments in a Pre Stage 1 report.

In November, the final submission of the Pre Stage 1 Report following clarification of format to be used for same.

2013

January 2013

Our building project has now been formally moved to Stage 2 of Architectural Planning. The majority of the work that was done for this can reused as we progress through the next few stages of the process. Based on this progress, our current objective is to obtain full planning permission by August 2013. However, despite this we were once again omitted from the re-issue of the 2013 School Building project. Also, while the building project is not currently blocked by any single tangible issue or event, progress is simply not happening at a pace that would result in a timely progression through the next number of phases. It is also totally unclear if there are any plans at all within the DES to take into account the length of time a school building project has been in the system. The Parent’s Association are planning to send a delegation to each local TD’s clinic to reiterate our frustration with this lack of progress. Newstalk Radio had also planned to run a feature on the building campaign but this was subsequently cancelled.

February 2013

A number of local TD’s have been visited by various parents since the last meeting. A copy of the letter sent from John Halligan to the Minister for Education (as well as his response) will be posted on the school website shortly. A reply to a letter sent by John Deasy was also received which was very similar to the reply sent to John Halligan. A number of attempts have also been made for an appointment to meet with Paudie Coffey. On foot of the acceptance of the Pre-Stage 1 report, the Stage 1 Architectural Report was sent to DES, Tullamore last week and we are currently pursuing an acknowledgement that the letter has been received. The DES are duty bound to reply to this submission within 3 weeks.

March 2013

The building project has now progressed to Stage 2A which involves developing the more detailed design (of the the school) in preparation for submissions of application to the local authority for planning permission. The Stage 1 Report contains a Gantt chart which projects the completion of construction of a new school building by April 2015.

April 2013

All of the plans required to submit for planning permission have now been prepared. The final step before this is for the Board of Management and Design Team to to attend a Stakeholders Meeting with the Department of Education. One final report is also required for this meeting (to review/confirm final costs for the project). It is hoped that an application for planning permission could be submitted in May 2013 (slightly ahead of schedule) subject to a letter of support/approval from the Department of Education confirming that we have met all of the required criteria for submission.

May 2013

The Permanent Building project is currently at a stage called “Stage 2A Development & Design”. A preplanning meeting held in the school recently between the Principal, the Architects, members of the school’s board of management and officials from the County Council is believed to have been seen as very positive, with no major issues arising from the meeting. Next step will see the Architects forward these plans onto the Department of Education for approval, prior to applying for planning permission. At which stage the plans will be displayed in the school by the Architects for parents and the public to view, hopefully by the end of this school year. Despite this, Gaelscoil Philib Barún was still not included in the latest stimulus package.

June 2013

The school was due to visit the Department of Education for a Design Stage 2B stake holders meeting at which the detailed designs of the school would be presented. The preparation work for this meeting was completed and submitted on time and the meeting was scheduled to take place on 28 May 2013. The department subsequently changed the date of the meeting to 27 May but cancelled it altogether (very late) on Friday, 24 May. Despite several commitments to the contrary, a revised date for this meeting has still not been scheduled, adding further to the ongoing frustration of the school parties concerned.

July 2013

On July 2nd, at a stakeholders meeting held in Tullamore, the detailed design was accepted with a number of comments.

August 2013

Following a request made by the DES through the school patron, Gaelscoil BOM and parents viewed the Stella Maris Secondary school as a possible alternative to building a new Gaelscoil. A subsequent letter from the Chairperson to the DES rejects any proposal to acquire the Stella Maris secondary school. The design team was asked by the DES to seek statutory approval for their design later in the month.

September 2013

The building campaign is now at Architectural Planning Stage 2B and are we are positioning ourselves to apply for planning permission for a new school, as per designs recently submitted to the Department of Education. The plans for the new school will be made available for parents and the local community to view at 7pm in the school on Thursday, September 26.

October 2013

The recent presentation of the plans for the new school was well-attended. The planning application is due to be submitted later this week, and should appear in local newspapers in the coming weeks. We are currently lobbying a number of local TDs to ensure that we are included in the next Government schools stimulus package, something which can now be justified given the progression of the campaign in recent months.

November 2013

Notification is to be given on 5 December 2013 whether planning permission will be granted or will require further preparation. There is a new stimulus package due to be announced imminently by the DOE with a further 28 schools due to be added. GSPB is ideally placed and expected to be included in this package.

December 2013

Notification was given on 5 December 2013 that outline planning permission has been granted subject to 14 conditions being met. The majority of these conditions are routine procedure dealing with utilities, fees to be paid etc. Condition no.14 refers to a previous archaeological survey which was carried out prior to the new road and roundabout being constructed. During this survey it was noted that there was evidence of miscellaneous stones and small holes whose provenance could not be determined. These holes are situated below the surface on the area in front of the racecourse wall. The school is investigating if there is now a requirement to carry out a survey with a suitably qualified archaeologist to establish whether or not these items are of any importance. The new stimulus package announced just reiterates the list of school previously announced in 2012.

2014

January 2014

As previously reported, an archaeologists impact assessment is required as a condition of planning permission. As the date for appeal has now passed this will be carried out and an archaeologist will shortly be appointed to attend to this; it will have no impact on the current timeline of the project. All that is outstanding for completion of the project is inclusion of the school in the current 5 year plan, this has been requested by the BOM as a matter of urgency.

February 2014

The school now has planning permission subject to 14 conditions being met. All of these are complete except for the archaeological survey; this will be carried out following receipt of 5 quotes. The board of management will undertake the cost of this in order to prevent further delays. The plans have gone to the design team for preparation for tender documents; these should be ready by the end of March and will then be submitted to the Dept. of Education. A recent letter from the Dept. states that the school is now in stage 2B of planning (the final stage)and while it is not currently on any funding list it is available for consideration should funding be made available. There has been some damage to the 6th classroom and the Principal’s office due to the recent storms. The DoE has been informed, a full survey has been carried out and the necessary repairs are now completed. The situation will be monitored going forward.

March 2014

The Minister for Education (Ruarí Quinn TD) will be in Tramore on 6 March 2014 and the school Principal is given an opportunity, he will speak to him but does not anticipate anything new. All local TD’s were sent letters recently encouraging them to continue to raise the issue in the Dáil. The response is usually that the school has not been built due to demographic changes in our area but funding will be assigned when next available. The archaeologist has been appointed to carry out an assessment at the racecourse roundabout. Once a licence has been obtained the work will be carried out. This is the last outstanding planning stipulation but will not cause any delays. Repair work to the school following the recent storm damage is almost completed. A loss adjuster is awaited, but the DOE will meet any shortfall on the insurance cover.

April 2014

An Archaeological survey took place this week as per one of the conditions attached to planning permission. The survey consisted of 20 separate trenches been dug around the park, in the area marked out for the new school foundations. These have been carefully filled in again and it is hoped that it won’t disrupt the use of the green when the weather improves. While nothing of any importance was discovered, the school has to wait for the official report from the archaeologist; this will have to be sent to the Department of Education prior to them receiving any tender documents. A copy of a letter sent by Labour Deputy Ciara Conway to Minister Ruairi Quinn was read out, basically stating our frustration at the lack of clarity from the Minister on the new building campaign, and confusion arising from his comments with reference to the Stella Maris building. There has been no response from the Minister as of yet.

May 2014

There has been no new developments or progress in the new school building campaign. As previous expected, the Archaeological survey did not produce any archaeological objects of interest and a report stating the same was sent to the Department of Education for review. However the completion of tender documents has been delayed due to delays with the mechanical and electrical drawings of the new building. These were expected to be submitted at the start of May, but this has been adjusted towards the end of May.

June 2014

There has been no new developments or progress to report on the new school building campaign which still sits at development stage 2.B. The 2B report was hand delivered to the Department of Education in advance of Rang6 trip to the Dáil last Thursday, and a priority question on the school’s lack of progress raised by Deputy John Halligan. The minister for Education was unfortunately not present in the Dáil at the time to answer the question, so this responsibility fell to Minister for training and skills, Ciaran Cannon, who’s responses echoed previous nonsense responses from the Education Minister.

September 2014

At the end of the previous school year, tender documents had been submitted to the DOE. In July a letter was received with a list of further requirements to be submitted. Due to a number of factors, the revised document will only be completed and ready for submission to the DOE on Friday next, the 12th of September. Once this document has been passed, the school should then be elevated to stage 2B approved. There are currently 64 schools in process as we are but only 4 have reached stage 2B approved. GSPB would aim to be become no.5.

October 2014

The school Principal handed out copies of a recent discussion in the Dail between David Cullinane TD and the Minister for State for Education. The current status is that the school has now achieved stage 2B approved but is still not on any list for future building. He also gave examples of emergency situations that have occurred in recent years due to the poor condition of the prefabs.

November 2014

The school has received exposure recently on RTE 1 Nuacht; Cllr Lola O’Sullivan also raised the issue on WLR FM and in Waterford County Council. The Minister for Education is attending the opening of a new building in Abbeyside NS on Thursday 6 November. The school Principal, members of the board of management and the Parents Association will meet with her prior to her engagement. Ciara Conway will also attend. An announcement is expected at the end of this month regarding further large scale projects, it is hoped that GSPB will be included this time.

On Thursday 6th November 2014, an opportunity was given to speak briefly to Jan O’Sullivan who has been the minister for Education since July 2014. Jan was in the county to open a new school and we had basically a 15 min time slot to state our case with her. Daithi De Paor, John Wall and Claire Ogilvie went to Dungarvan to meet with the minister to ask why are we being continuously overlooked for a permanent building despite meeting all the criteria set out by the ministers office.

December 2014

After almost 30 years of waiting, we’re delighted and relieved to confirm that we have finally been added to an official list of school projects that will go to construction in 2015.

January 2015

Gaelscoil Philib Barún was included in the DES list of schools to go to construction in 2015. The Design team lead by dhb Architects will shortly issue tender documents. The BOM hopes that a builder will begin construction of an 8 classroom building as soon as possible. Watch out for diggers!!!

February 2015

The official letter from the DoE on 9th Jan which gave the Architects approval to go to tender. Tenders are currently being received and reviewed by the Architects and they will send their recommendations to the DoE. This should be a 2-3 month process. It is anticipated that ground could be broken by May/June.

April 2015

The tender process for the building of our new school was completed last month and the successful building firm will now be appointed officially by the Department of Education and Skills. The Board of Management is confident that the building work will commence during the summer of 2015. While construction is going on, the field which we are using for our playground at the moment will be closed and fenced off. The school will run as normal with the same access procedures for pupils and general traffic.

August 2015

S & K Carey Ltd. have been appointed to build the new school. Building work will be ongoing during the next year on the school field. The site is being safely secured initially and construction is to commence immediately. All health and safety regulations will be adhered to during the build this will include management of deliveries and construction traffic to ensure that there will be no disruption to the working of the school.

September 2015

After some red tape issues over the summer the Builder finally took possession of the site on the 31st Aug 2015. As per the contract they have 65 weeks to complete the entire work (inclusive of removing the old building). It is felt that we will still be on target to move into the school for next Sept 2016. The school is an 8 classroom building along with special resource rooms and a library etc. Unfortunately as the Naionra is not considered part of the main school by the department of education no classroom has been approved for them in the new building plan. The board of management of the school is in the process of finalising a solution which would see one of the newer pre-fabs retained and moved to just south of the current building onto land adjacent to the school that will be leased for this purpose.

October 2015

At a ceremony held on the school’s building site last Monday the 19th of October, Deirdre Madden, cofounder of the school with the late Risteard Ó Murchú, turned a ceremonial sod. Also present was Emear Ó Muchú, Risteard’s son, and representatives of both families. Many local politicians were present including Senator David Cullinane, Sinn Féin, Paudie Coffey TD and Minister of State, Ciara Conway Labour TD. Among local councillors were Lola Ó Sullivan, Fine Gael, Jim Griffin, Sinn Féin, and Joe Conway, Independent. Acknowledgements and letters of support and congratulation were received from John Deasy TD and John Halligan TD. All present welcomed the building’s progress and praised the Design Team and S & K Carey Builders for the speed of the construction to date.

November 2015

The building is ahead of schedule and on target for September opening. The request for the additional 4 classrooms is under consideration by the department with the potential for a separate project to be devolved. A plan is being worked on for the Naíonra also which will take into account the additional pre-school year now being offered by the state.

January 2016

The first floor of the new building has been erected and last week the floor of the second storey was poured. Building of the walls of four classrooms on the second floor will commence this week. The view from these classrooms will indeed be spectacular. Though building days were lost last month due to the bad weather the work is still ahead of schedule and we hope to be in the new building by September with the help of S and K Carey Ltd.

April 2016

The roof and windows should be arriving on 14th April, first fix plumbing and electrics will then be started. It is looking like August now before the school will be complete and handed over.
Again there has been no update on the 4 additional required classrooms.

May 2016

The school is now sealed following the arrival and installation of the windows with the following being carried out at present, insulation and roof cladding, plastering end electrics have commenced with painting to begin shortly. We have been given a grant of €25,000 for new school furniture and a further €53,000 has been granted for IT equipment. The Naíonra will remain where it is for the foreseeable future. Again there has been no update on the 4 additional required classrooms.

June 2016

On the 25th of June at 12:00 we hope to organise parents and friends of the school to help us move some of the furniture books and equipment from the prefabs to a storage area in the new school. This will allow the builders to progress with civil works ón the lower end of the site during July and August. If you are available on that date and if you have a high viz and a helmet we would be most grateful for help.

July 2016

A gathering of parents and friends of the school moved the school furniture, books, IT equipment up to the new school’s library for storage. Our thanks to all who helped with this.

August 2016

The new school is almost ready. Cleaners are in at the moment and we hope to have the office open by the 29th of August 2016. The last of the prefabs will be removed in September. Children will have a temporary play area initially while work is being completed on the yard areas.

September 2016

The new school opened for business on Thursday, 1 September 2016 and the cheers of the happy children as they entered the school for the very first time will live long in the memory of those who witnessed it. An open evening was also held on Wednesday, 7 September 2016.