Smiles all round at Coláiste Ráithín
A frisson of expectation hung at the gates of Coláiste Ráithín on Monday morning as sixth years arrived for the first day in the new school building.
The 40 or so Leaving Cert pupils will spend the last year of their secondary school careers in a brand-new state-of-the art facility, which finally opened its doors this week, after a series of hurdles were overcome.
'This is a fantastic day for the school community,' said principal Traolach Ó Maolchathaigh, who now begins his tenure as principal.
'It's a fantastic day for all of those who have worked so hard to get us here. It's a fantastic day for the Irish speaking community in north Wicklow and it is a tribute to all those people who worked so hard to achieve this.
'We set a very ambitious date to start the school year,' he said. 'People worked very hard to achieve that.'
The principal said that the opening has come at a tremendous cost for a number of people. 'We would stand with contractors who were very seriously affected by Sammon's collapse,' he said. 'We hope there will be a very speedy and just resolution for them.'
He thanked the Dutch Infrastructure Fund and NDFA, as well as the Department of Education and Science, KEWTB and the contractor Woodvale, and 'everyone who has worked on this, including previous management, parents and students, since the school began almost 30 years ago.'
Deputy John Brady drove his daughter Síofra to school last Monday morning, and said that he had mixed emotions, 'to see my little baby growing up and going in to sixth year'.
He said that it was fantastic to drive through the new school gates.
'It's a new era starting and a day we almost thought we'd never see. It's brilliant for all the pupils and staff, and great for the sixth years to be able to get into the new school for the last year, before they move on to bigger and better things.'
'I'm very nervous to have a look around, we've been waiting ages for it,' said Siofra. 'I'm nervous but excited at the same time.'
She feels prepared for sixth year, as she follows her older sister who just completed her leaving cert. 'I know what to expect and I know that I have to put a lot of work in'.
Ailíse de Barra arrived to school early and had the chance to take a walk around and look inside the new building. 'It's amazing,' she said. 'It took 20 minutes to walk around.'
Lara O'Toole said that she's a little nervous about starting sixth year, but read. 'I'm really excited, we've been waiting five years for the new school,' she said.
Pupils were being brought back in groups this week, with sixth years the first in on Monday and a full contingent by today (Wednesday). Management had expected to start the process the previous Tuesday, but a certification matter held up the opening.
Prior to that, the collapse of UK developer Carillion postponed the completion and opening of Coláiste Ráithín, and neighbouring Ravenswell primary school.
Wodvale are still on site and Ravenswell should be in its new building by the end of this month.
A number of subcontractors who completed work at the two sites have not been paid for their services.
They had been engaged by project contractor Sammon, who also collapsed after Carillion.