GAA legend O Se kick-starts drive to lobby for new school
Kerry GAA legend and primary teacher Tomas O Se is on a new mission – and this time he is togging out for Cork.
The All Ireland-winning footballer and Irish Independent'columnist analyst is fronting a new campaign to get a decent building for the overcrowded gaelscoil where he works.
As far back as 2011, the 394-pupil Gaelscoil de hIde, Fermoy, Co Cork, was promised a new building to cater for its increasing enrolments. In fact, they were told it would be ready in September 2014 – but the wait goes on.
The almost-400 pupils squeeze into a school built for 280 with many classrooms are half the size of the standard classroom. And the play area is totally inadequate.
Former storage rooms, libraries and cloak halls have had to be converted into classrooms with some classes located uncomfortably close to the toilets.
The outdoor facilities are no better. Pupils must use the small tarmac area at the rear of the school on a 'traffic-light' style system as it can only cater for limited numbers at one time.
It is something that really grates with the GAA star, who described it as "a ridiculous situation, the worst I've ever seen and the children are being deprived". He said: "Physical education is such an important part of a child's development and it's awful that we as teachers have to tell the children they can't even run during the morning break.
"Exercise is crucial for children. The 'healthy body, healthy mind' concept is completely accurate.
"I grew up in a country school and we could blow off steam at break and play games to our hearts content.
"The children here can't. It's unacceptable and it's wrong."
The school also suffers from a lack of adequate drop-off or parking facilities for parents.
Principal Sean Mac Gearrailt said there has been years of work by the school board, parents, staff and pupils.
"I am totally frustrated at the extremely slow pace by public bodies in securing a site," he said.
Now they have formed Gaelscoil de hÍde New School Action Group to lobby local public representatives – including Junior Minister Sean Sherlock – which is kicking off with a postcard campaign.
Meanwhile, Munster's first Community National School is to be built in a record time of 36 weeks, after construction starts in the New Year.
The school will be built at Castlepark, Mallow, Co Cork, by a new rapid response unit of the Department of Education and Skills.
The Cork Education and Training Board (ETB) CEO, Ted Owens said it will have an eight classrooms with specialist and ancillary rooms including two special education tuition rooms, an external ball court and a play area.
A principal will be appointed shortly and enrolments for the new school have already commenced.