Wednesday, December 19th was a momentous day in the life of Dromcollogher with the official opening of the new extension to the local Scoil Naomh Iosef Primary School. The hard work of teachers, staff, parents, Board of Management, Parents’ Association, local business and members of the wider community was rewarded in style as young and old gathered to celebrate a phenomenal community achievement.

Since 2010, the school has undergone a major face lift; new double glazed windows and doors have been fitted; extensive roof repairs carried out, walls and attic insulated, cloakrooms have been converted to Resource room and office; boys and girls toilets have been upgraded; staff facilities have been improved and the school newly painted. These works were fully funded by the Department of Education and Skills.

The Parents’ Association raised €15,000 in 2010 and state of the art whiteboards were fitted in each classroom. But the parents in Scoil Naomh Iosef did not rest on their laurels, further funding was provided by them to extend the playground and with the help of a grant from the Munster Council, hurling/football pitches were marked out on the new tarmacadam.

Proceedings began with the Chairman’s address. Con Browne acknowledged the hard work of previous Boards of Management, staff and parents. He thanked local politicians for the lobbying carried out on behalf of the school to secure funding towards the extension. He paid a special tribute to the great working partnership that exists between the Primary school and the local community. It was as a result of this positive link that the new building became a reality.

It was as a past pupil of Scoil Naomh Iosef that Cathaoi-rleach of Limerick County Council, Jerome Scanlan spoke. He took everybody back to the days when the Primary School was a two storey house in Pike Street with the girls upstairs and the boys downstairs. He recalled names of some of his classmates and teachers. An interesting conversation developed between Jerome and Marjorie Keyes, whose mother was a former Principal of the Girls Primary school. Marjorie told stories of by gone days and gave us a brief history of the school and teachers who taught there.

Tom O’Callaghan, on behalf of the parent body thanked Mrs. Twomey for her leadership and dedication. He thanked the staff for treating their children with the utmost respect and kindness. He said “a school is only mortar and stone but it’s the people in it that make this a great school”. He said that facilities for the children had hugely improved and because of this he would nearly “sign up as a pupil and start all over again himself”.

As chairperson of the Finance Committee, John Cahill, outlined the many fundraisers which were held to help defray the costs of the extension. He thanked all the parents and members of the wider community who had collected for the building and contributed towards it. The new building was blessed by Fr. Frank O’Dea who also blessed the classrooms. Canon Ambrose blessed the latest acquisition, a beautiful statue of St. Joseph which was sourced for the school by Fr. Frank O’Dea.

The Principal of the Primary school, Mrs. Eileen Twomey, paid tribute to a number of people, past and present who helped bring the building to fruition. However, she pointed out that “the significance of the occasion extends far beyond the official opening of this extension. What this school will achieve for its pupils and parents in the years ahead is perhaps the most important dimension of all”. She said it was the 107 precious pupils on role in the school who were the lifeblood of this establishment and felt privileged to have them in the care of Scoil Naomh Iosef. She thanked all for the beautiful extension and for fulfilling a vision.

Acknowledging the import-ance of the school in the local area, as a senior member in the community and a past pupil himself, Eugene O’Sullivan was invited to cut the celebration cake with the most junior member of the school, Shane Browne. Eugene recalled a story from his school days before the extension was declared officially open.

The pupils, whose behaviour was exemplary throughout the day, entertained all, with their song and music. A room full of memorabilia was open for all to visit. People took great enjoyment in locating their names in the old roll books and in examining old school photographs.

The parents provided beautiful refreshments on the day and everybody had a cupán tae, and of course, the children had their party before they were back again that evening to perform in the first concert held in Scoil Naomh Iosef.

Congratulations to everyone involved in the project. The vision behind the project was to provide the pupils of Scoil Naomh Iosef with the best possible multipurpose facility that we could. When the curtains were raised for the first Christmas concert ever held in the school, the people of Dromcollogher can be proud of having achieved their goal.