St Mary's NS principal Ailish McManus, deputy principal Joanne Croughan, and staff members Nessa McLoughlin and Iseult Murphy, pictured with Minister Norma Foley and Deputy Robert Troy.

Major expansion of Athlone's St Mary's school gets go ahead

Athlone's St Mary's Primary School is set for a massive expansion after the Department of Education and Science has confirmed plans for a significant number of extra classrooms at the school.

It's understood the project will provide facilities for four classes at each year group, involving at least 32 mainstream classrooms, as well as four new special educational needs classrooms.

Deputy Robert Troy said the department's plans are to provide modular accommodation to address the school's current needs. This would represent “a significant investment” on a school site that badly needed investment, he said.

The extra facilities will be provided through purpose-built, quality modular buildings, which will also have the advantage of fast-tracking the delivery of the new school infrastructure. As a result, the entire project, which also involves repairs to existing buildings, could be operational for the start of a new school year in September 2024.

The breakthrough in the school's push for new facilities came on foot of a number of delegations with Minister for Education and Science Norma Foley and her officials, facilitated by Deputy Troy.

Principal of St Mary's NS Ailish McManus said everyone at St Mary's was “absolutely ecstatic” at the department's offer, which has been approved by the school's board of management.

She said it represented “a very significant investment for the school community and for future generations of students in Athlone.”

“The Department has agreed to refurbish a section of our school and to build a significant number of classrooms using a modular framework.”

A design team is set to be appointed, and the department is also allowing for the possible need for additional new accommodation as a result of the impact of any reconfiguration of the school campus.

Ms McManus thanked Deputy Troy for his assistance, including with arranging meetings and liaising with Minister Foley. She also thanked the department for its support.

Deputy Troy said the project was testament to the hard work and focus of the school's principal and board of management.

“This is something we have been engaged in and working on over the course of the over twelve months,” he said.