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Liquidators called in to shut-down boarding school

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A FINE COUNTRY PILE: Headfort House, Co Meath. Photo: Barry Cronin/Getty

A FINE COUNTRY PILE: Headfort House, Co Meath. Photo: Barry Cronin/Getty

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A FINE COUNTRY PILE: Headfort House, Co Meath. Photo: Barry Cronin/Getty

Ireland's only private boarding school for children aged seven to 13 has had liquidators appointed after the Covid-19 pandemic forced its closure.

Headfort School in Kells, Co Meath, run by Headfort School Designated Activity Company, had been in financial difficulty before the pandemic, the High Court was told yesterday.

But the financial position was "very suddenly and seriously undermined" by the crisis, Garret Byrne BL told the court.

Some 44 boarders and 65 day pupils will now have to find alternative school places. Fees were up to €18,000 a year for boarders and just under €15,000 for under-10s. Class sizes were, on average, between 12 and 15 students.

Housed since its opening in 1949 in an 18th-century Georgian mansion, Headfort also operated a Montessori school and employed about 25 staff.

The operating company has charitable status and while it received certain State funding for the Montessori element, it did not get capitation grants, Mr Byrne told the court.

He said the winding up petition was being presented by the company, which is the landlord of the school, as a creditor.

The board had agreed this was the best option as it was not possible to convene a meeting of the shareholders, two of whom are deceased.

The school had a net liability for the year ended August 2018 of some €267,000, Mr Byrne told the court.

The school was closed in March due to the crisis and it had not been in a position to pay salaries and rent.

Mr Justice Mark Heslin appointed David O'Connor and Peter Doherty of BDO as joint liquidators.

Irish Independent