HUGE celebrations have been sparked in Balbriggan as the dream of opening a second-level Irish language school in the area finally became a reality.
Four years ago, a group of local parents who had educated their children at primary level through Irish formed with the dream of providing a local Gaelcholaiste that could continue that education into second level. The called their dream school Ghlór na Mara and last week, the Minister for Education confirmed that the school that has remained in the imagination of that hard-working founding committee for four years, can look forward to opening its doors to students in September of 2014. The Colaiste Ghlór na Mara founding committee aligned itself with school patron organisation, Foras Patrúnachta which was named as the patron of the new school by Minister for Education, Ruairí Quinn, last week. Tadhg Ó Tuaichaigh is the chairperson of that founding committee and spoke to the Fingal Independent just hours after they had learned their four-year fight for a secondlevel Irish language school had ended in victory. 'We are delighted. We are over the moon, we really are. I sent out a group email yesterday to all our supporters and asked them to keep their fingers crossed and since the news broke I've just been flooded with emails – people are ecstatic,' Tadhg said. Tadhg said the news was 'everything we have worked for over the last few years' and said the founding committee would now transform into an interim management committee for the school, overseeing its development over the next two years until it opens its doors in September of 2014. Tadhg said the Department of Education now takes over to a degree in terms of designing the school and securing planning permission and then progressing with the build. The site, off the Naul Road in Balbriggan is already in the ownership of the department after it was acquired on its behalf by Fingal County Council under the Fingal Schools Model. The Ghlor na Mara chairperson said that the Department had assured the founding committee that the school would open in a permanent school building and its initial capacity will be 700. That is some way short of the 1,000 the founding committee had argued for but Tadhg said his committee is assured that there will be room to expand should demand be higher. And there is every chance demand will be higher because the school already has 800 expressions of interest from parents to educate their children there. Formal enrolment will happen later but Tadhg said the committee will contact everyone who has expressed an interest in sending their child to the new school and 'nobody will slip through the net'. The school has been asked to take on a very wide catchment area and will be fed from Gaelscoileanna from as far south as Swords and as far north as Drogheda.