Thursday 14 December 2017

Millionaire gives €7m for new school

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin chats with entrepreneur Pat Mc Donagh, who contributed €7m to the construction of the building
Archbishop Diarmuid Martin chats with entrepreneur Pat Mc Donagh, who contributed €7m to the construction of the building
Rolestown National School’s new building

Nicola Anderson

WHEN a local entrepreneur approached a school principal in despair over the condition of his school with an offer of help, it was not an opportunity to be turned down in a hurry.

Tom Kelleher of Rolestown National School, near Swords in north Co Dublin, was sitting in his office one day fretting over the facilities when e-learning multimillionaire Pat McDonagh -- himself a former primary teacher -- dropped in.

"We were in dire need of a building and he simply said, 'If you organise it, I'll pay for it'," Mr Kelleher said.

The existing school was "falling apart", with serious heating and lighting issues and a lack of space.

Mr McDonagh, one of the founders of the Riverdeep educational technology firm, owned the site on which the school was built and the unique deal involved a series of land swaps and agreements involving Mr McDonagh, the Catholic Church, which is the patron body for the school, Fingal County Council and the Department of Education.

Mr McDonagh, who is currently chairman of the Third Force e-learning company, gave €7m towards the school, while the Department gave €4m.

Yesterday, some eight years after the initial proposal got under way, the new school was officially opened by Finance Minister Brian Lenihan, a local representative in the area, who explained that he had taken over the invitation from Education Minister Mary Coughlan.

Irish Independent

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