Brand new 1,000 pupil multi-denominational school opens its doors
A new, state of the art An Foras Pátrúnachta multi-denominational school, Coláiste Ghlór na Mara, based on the Naul Road in Balbriggan, opens its doors for the first time this week.
The 1,000 pupil, multi-denominational secondary school, where Irish is the primary language used, is equipped with a full range of both practical and academic facilities. There is also a special education unit, including a sensory garden and butterfly garden. The inclusion of this unit ensures that students with special needs can continue their Irish-medium education at second level.
While it will eventually accommodate 1,000, this week 130 students including 15 different nationalities have started at Coláiste Ghlór na Mara.
Speaking today, Aoife Elster, principal of Coláiste Ghlór na Mara said: “We are delighted that we have finally opened the doors to our brand new school premises. This is the result of eight years of hard work by parents, our founding committee and our patron An Foras Pátrúnachta.
“It is really encouraging that the Irish language is so popular in this area, and that students with such diverse backgrounds and cultures have chosen to learn through Irish. The school is open to all, and students do not need to have attended a Gaelscoil (Irish speaking primary school) previously to enrol here.”
Additional facilities at the school include two outdoor classrooms, a polytunnel and a geology garden made up of various rock formations. The principal, Aoife Elster, who has worked as a teacher for over 20 years, also has a background in geophysics and as such, wanted to ensure “as much attention was paid to the external environment, as the internal”.
Elster continued: “I look forward to working with a great team of teachers and offering our students from the North County Dublin area and its environs equal access to education, an extensive curriculum and choice of subjects ‘as Gaeilge’, for many years to come.”
The Gaelcholáiste has been based at a temporary facility in Castlelands since 2014, the culmination of six years of campaigning by Coláiste Ghlór na Mara’s founding committee. Many of the children starting this week are coming from the local Irish language primary school in Balbriggan, and a number will be travelling from Swords, Drogheda and Ashbourne. This is due to a deficit of other Irish-medium second level schools in these areas, and nationally the figure for Gaelcholáisti stands at just four per cent.
Commenting today, Séamas Ó Ceanainn, Chair of An Foras Pátrúnachta, said: “Immersive education is excellent education. The benefits of an education through the medium of Irish and bilingual schooling are well documented – students perform better academically, find it easier to learn a third and fourth language and also recent research indicates that students learning through Irish are achieving higher scores in English and Maths.
“We are delighted to open this new multi-denominational Gaelcholáiste, reflecting the choice of parents in the area and increasing the diversity of education provision. Coláiste Ghlór na Mara is the 69th school opened under the patronage of An Foras Pátrúnachta, and our fifth school at second level.
“As the largest patron of Irish medium schools in Ireland, An Foras Pátrúnachta schools are now educating 15,000 students per annum and our schools our open to all children. Our aim is to provide an excellent education through the Irish language to every child in Ireland who wants it.”
An Foras Pátrúnachta provides Irish-medium education at primary and secondary levels, and the schools having a range of spiritual ethos i.e. Multi-denominational, Inter-denominational or Catholic.