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Bright sparks go through the roof in electrifying race to build new school

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The new Gaelcholaiste na Mara secondary school in Arklow with ESB poles sticking through the roof

The new Gaelcholaiste na Mara secondary school in Arklow with ESB poles sticking through the roof

The new Gaelcholaiste na Mara secondary school in Arklow with ESB poles sticking through the roof

Ireland's newest all-Irish secondary school brings a new meaning to the expression "pole position".

Instead of waiting for the Electricity Supply Board (ESB) to relocate the poles, the Co Wicklow Vocational Education Committee decided to build around them.

It means that the new Gaelcholaiste na Mara school can open as soon as possible.

Builders have spent the past few months building around the pole as they construct a new temporary facility on Vale Road in Arklow, which will replace the school's "temporary" portable digs.

School principal Maire Mhic Mhuiris said: "We didn't want to wait for the ESB to move it so we built around it, but they will move it for us later."

The roof, which will have two gaping holes where the poles were, will be sealed up when the pole is moved, she said.

"At least, I presume there's a plan to close up the hole," she added.

The odd-looking building, which will cost about €1.5m to construct, will serve as a temporary school until a permanent structure is built nearby within a few years, she added.

It will cater for up to 350 students in a catchment area, including Wicklow Town, Arklow and Gorey.

Although there are only nine boys and 14 girls currently enrolled in the programme, the school is hoping there will be enough new students to fill two classes by next autumn.

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Although it's not the first time that a building has been constructed with an ESB pole sticking out of the middle, it certainly is a first for a non-residential building, according to ESB spokesman Kevin MacDermott.

But it is something that is only done out of absolute necessity, he said.

"We wouldn't encourage anyone to try this on their own," said Mr MacDermott, who confirmed last night that the ESB would remove the poles before the school opens.

Meanwhile, the VEC is hosting a special open-house event tonight at the Arus Lorcain community school in Arklow to encourage local parents to consider an all-Irish language education for their children when the school opens to new students next September.

Four of the school's currently enrolled students came from the regular school system with no special Irish-language backgrounds, Ms Mhic Mhuiris said.

"They only have to have a proficiency in Irish and a willingness to pursue their education in Irish," she said.


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