Drenched pupils ‘overjoyed’ as school plans approved – The Irish Times

Pupils at a school that uses buckets to catch rain through rotting Velux windows are “overjoyed” that stalled plans for a new building have been given the green light.

The long-awaited new build at O’Carolan College in Nobber, Co. Meath, along with 58 other school projects, was delayed during a recent Department of Education review of available funding.

The review led to a campaign by 14-year-old students Tom Carry, Josh Carolan and Mia Cluskey to highlight the need to start construction before the building permit expired in January.

The friends say they study in classrooms where buckets are used to catch rain falling through overhead Velux windows.

“We work in miserable conditions. There are only 12 classrooms in the main building and 28 classrooms in prefabricated buildings to teach over 600 students here,” they said.

“If you entered the building you would think it was run down because you encounter dampness and mold in the main hall. In math class, the window seals are broken and the door won’t close, so it’s freezing cold even though the heating is on.

“We have buckets under the windows but we get soaked from the rain and have to wear coats all the time because of the cold. It’s very hard to concentrate when you’re wet and your teeth are chattering.

“We have no facilities and have to travel to community centers in Mullagh and Kingscourt to take part in many sports. We don’t even really have a yard to hang out on during breaks because the space has been taken up by prefabs.”

The students said they are pleased the Department of Education has confirmed their 7,000-square-foot new school, which received planning permission in 2018, will be built.

“We felt we had to raise our voice as the school had been promised expansion and new construction since 2004.”

The Department of Education said it is currently contacting each of the 58 schools to update them on the projects.

News of the new school was broken by local Fianna Fáil TD Thomas Byrne, who wrote to Tom Carry to confirm funding was in place.

“I would like to commend the students, staff, parents, principal and board of directors for their dedication in providing this new school to O’Carolan College. I was very impressed by the way the entire school community mobilized and fought for you,” the TD said. “You should all be very proud. Their hard work and determination has paid off.”

Dais Johnston

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