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Official Opening of Extension September 2023

Our Lady’s Secondary School Celebrates Grand Opening if their Fifteen Classroom Extension

In a momentous celebration, Our Lady's Secondary School marked a historic occasion on November 8th with the official opening of their impressive 15 classroom extension. The grand event, graced by esteemed guests and the school community, showcased the culmination of relentless efforts, collaboration, and unwavering support from various individuals and organisations.

The official ceremony started with a warm welcome from Head Boy Shane Miller and Head Girl Hazel Hughes, who set the tone for the afternoon. The fabulous school choir captivated the audience with a spectacular performance that led to amazing reviews from those present. The distinguished guests, including Bishop of Clogher Larry Duffy, representatives from the Sisters of Mercy, Minister for Social Protection and Rural and Community Development Heather Humphreys, local TDs Niamh Smyth, Senator Robbie Gallagher, local Councillors Colm Carthy and Aoife Mc Cooey, past Principals Mr. Gerry Mc Guill & Mr. John Gallen, President of the JMB Ms. Deirdre Matthews and JMB representatives Mr. Raymond Mc Hugh and Noel Merrick, CEO of CEIST Mr. Gerry Mc Guill and CEIST Faith Leadership & Governance Officer Ms. Sharon Mc Grath, the Senior Leadership and Management Team Principal Mr. Eddie Kelly and Deputy Principal’s Ms. Jane Treanor and Mr. Darren Bishop, Chairperson of the Board of Management Dr. Gary Carville, Board members and former Board members, staff representatives, retired staff, student representatives, representatives from the Parents Association, representatives from Monaghan County Council and their chief executive Robert Burns, representatives from the Design Team including Colin Duffy and Niall Smith from Niall Smith Architects , Glen Mc Caffrey and Alan Clarke from Alan Clarke Structural Engineer, Declan, Smyth, Gabriel Dunne and Stephen Finch from Mechanical & Electrical Consultants Semple & Mc Killop, representatives from Glebe Builders as well as local Primary School Principals.

The format of the event was meticulously planned, providing a perfect blend of speeches, blessings, and symbolic ceremonies. Following the performance of the school choir Principal Mr. Kelly addressed the aforementioned guests with the following speech:

‘’Thank you to our wonderful school choir for their performance, the choir performed those songs as part of a 15 minute performance in the national finals of showchoir Ireland on Saturday night winning best vocal group. Ladies and Gentlemen, members of the school community, invited guests all of whom were very warmly welcomed by Shane & Hazel- you are all very welcome to our school. Today marks a momentous occasion in the history of our school as we gather to officially open our new 15-classroom extension. This achievement is the result of tireless efforts, collaboration, and support from a multitude of individuals and organisations, without whom this project would not have been possible. On behalf of our school community I would like to thank these individuals and organisations. The Chairperson of our Board of Management Dr. Gary Carville will then speak to you about the significance of this project in the overall context of our school. First of all, I would like to thank the various personnel in the Department of Education under the leadership of Minister Foley for their support, guidance and advice. It is wonderful to see so many schools in the local area receive funding for new extensions over the past few years. This reflects the commitment of our government and elected representatives at local and national level to investing in young people in our communities. A particular word of thanks to Anne Egan, Mary Meaney and Thomas Hayden in the Department for their help and assistance on matters relating to this project. I would also like to thank our local Minister- Minister for Social Protection and Rural & Community Development Heather Humphrey’s. Heather has been a very welcome visitor to our school these past few years- be that attending for Europe Day celebrations, Political Conferences or various other events-Heather has always shown a great interest in our school. We thank you for the wonderful work you do as government Minister, the excellent ambassador that you are for our constituency and for your continued interest, friendship & support to our school. As a school community we extend our gratitude to the exceptional Design Team led by Niall Smith & Colin Duffy from Niall Smith Architects. Their innovative vision, attention to detail and meticulous planning have been instrumental to the success of this project. When this extension was granted it was very important for our Board & staff that it fitted seamlessly into the existing landscape of our school and as you will see later when we have a guided tour- Niall, Colin & other members of the Design Team did a wonderful job in making that happen. To the other members of the Design Team- Glen Mc Caffrey and Alan Clarke from Alan Clarke Structural Engineers, Stephen Finch, Declan Smyth and Gabriel Dunne from Mechanical & Electrical Consultants Semple & Mc Killop, Sean Mooney and Joe Beggs from Mc Gahon’s surveyors and to the various personnel from Safety Solutions. I want to express our sincere appreciation for your dedication and diligence in overseeing the different aspects of this project and ensuring its smooth and timely progression. The commitment and craftsmanship of Glebe Builders, spearheaded by Michael Kelly, David Kelly, Darragh Kelly, and Darren Kerrigan, have been instrumental in bringing our vision for this project to fruition. To the various project supervisors who were on site- Mark Mc Ginley, Colin Gorman, Adrian Carragher, Adrian Walshe, and Eamon Mc Cullagh, we extend our thanks for your hard work, efforts and attention to detail. A debt of gratitude is owed to our Trustees, CEIST- to Gerry Mc Guill, former Principal and now CEO of CEIST, CEIST Faith Leadership & Governance Officer Sharon Mc Grath and Noel Merrick in the Building Unit of the Joint Managerial Body for Voluntary Secondary Schools for their interest, support and oversight. Their guidance has been pivotal in navigating the complexities of this project particularly in the early stages. Our Board of Management, under the astute leadership of Chairperson Dr. Gary Carville played a crucial role in steering this project through the many different stages. As Principal I would like to thank Gary & all Board members Aidan Campbell, Stephen Mc Ginnity, Sean Egan, Damien Mooney, Jennifer Sheridan, Brenda Campbell, and Joe Bishop for their unwavering support, advice, and direction in all matters relating to the leadership and management of our school. The Parents Association, whose interest and support has been an ever constant throughout this journey also deserves huge credit. We are blessed with such a vibrant, active and supportive parent body. To the staff of the school, your patience, interest, and understanding with the project has not gone unnoticed. The modern and up-to-date learning environment we now enjoy is reflective of your commitment and dedication to ensuring a top class educational environment and experience for our students. In particular I want to acknowledge the role played by Damien Mooney- Damien’s background, experience and interest in this area, his attendance at site meetings and his constant liaising with various personnel on site was a huge support to Senior Management. I want to thank Lorraine in accounts for managing finances so well and keeping everything in order, a special thanks to our caretakers Hugh Carragher and Stephen Smith and their ancillary team. They had an extremely busy summer, getting ready for the opening of school with a race against time to get work on the extension completed as well as overseeing an ambitious Summer Works Scheme- at times in early August it looked as if we might only have a half a school to return to but Hugh, Stephen and their dedicated ancillary team (Breda, Caroline, Celia, Pauline, Patricia- helped by Maria in recent months) did fantastic work- this was all on top of the wonderful work that they do in keeping our school in such great condition. I want to thank Deputy Principal’s Jane Treanor and Darren Bishop -their assistance and support in navigating the challenges and complexities of the project as well as their continued friendship and collegiality in all school related matters is invaluable. Their continued support, drive and commitment to all areas of school life is one of the many reasons for the continued and sustained success of our school. To our students, your patience and understanding during the construction phase was commendable. This is an exciting time to be part of our school community-I am delighted that you have access to and will benefit from the state of the art facilities that we now enjoy- this is no more than you deserve for your continued support, cooperation and commitment to the many different aspects of school life. I look forward to seeing you enjoy many years of growth, learning and friendship in these wonderful new facilities that will enhance the wellbeing and educational experience for all our students. Finally, a personal note of thanks to my family, especially Catherine and the kids, for their support and patience at home. Looking back, summer gone by wasn’t much of a summer in our house as I was up and down the road to school for meetings, taking calls, replying to emails making sure all was on track with the extension and Summer Works for the end of August. Again, like the great support that I had in school and with various key stakeholders that I’ve mentioned, school leadership teams across the country can’t undertake projects of this magnitude on top of their already busy schedules without the backing and support of families at home, and I think on occasions like this it is important to publicly acknowledge that. In conclusion, today is not just about a building; it's about the culmination of shared dreams, collective efforts, and a commitment to providing a modern and up to date learning environment for our staff and students. The collaborative efforts, dedication and support from all those involved have laid the foundations for a future where students can learn, grow and achieve to their highest potential. This extension is not just a structure, it’s a promise- a promise to build on the excellent work of successive generations of management, staff & students- a promise to continue to nurture minds, inspire dreams and shape the leaders of tomorrow.’’

At the end of his speech Mr. Kelly introduced the Chairperson of the Board of Management Dr. Gary Carville who addressed the invited guests as follows: ‘’Cuirim fíor fáilte roimh gach duine don ocaid iontacht seo inniu. As Chair of the Board of Management of Our Lady’s Secondary School, I welcome you all here today, from across the entire school community and all those who join us for this special occasion. I join with Shane and Hazel and with Mr Kelly in welcoming our special guests: Minister Heather Humphrey’s , members of Dáil Éireann and Seanad Éireann, and of local authorities, the Bishop of Clogher, Bishop Larry Duffy, colleagues on the Board of Management and the Parents’ Association, Representatives of CEIST, representatives of the Sisters of Mercy, representatives of the JMB, the design team, Glebe Builders, principals of schools in our area and so many others, including members of staff and many former members of staff. Today marks a momentous occasion as we gather to celebrate the opening of our new 15 classroom extension. At a cost of almost €6m, this exciting new development in the history of our school stands as a testament to the enduring commitment of our school to providing exceptional education and fostering an environment conducive to learning and growth. First and foremost, I would like to express my gratitude to the Senior Leadership and Management Team—Mr. Kelly, Ms. Treanor, and Mr. Bishop—for their unwavering dedication, meticulous planning, and tireless efforts in overseeing this ambitious project. Their leadership has been instrumental in bringing us to this exciting moment, and we owe them a debt of gratitude for their commitment to our school's advancement. As we stand in the midst of this impressive extension, it's important to acknowledge the foundation upon which this achievement rests. The groundwork laid by previous Principals and the Boards of Management (Fr. Frank Mc Kenna, Sr. Margaret Lyons, Sr. Edel Bannon,John Gallen & Gerry Mc Guill) and Chairperson’s (Des Mc Glynn, Sr. Columba Gargan, Sr. Elizabeth Fee, Anne Mc Donnell & Declan Bishop) ) have been integral to our success. Today's expansion builds upon their great work, reinforcing our commitment to excellence in education. This extension is not just about adding physical spaces; it's an investment in the future of education in our community. Our commitment to providing modern, state-of-the-art facilities reflects our dedication to nurturing the intellectual, human, spiritual and creative potential of our students. It reflects our belief, in flowing from our Catholic ethos – rooted in unity in diversity, that education is the key to empowering future generations and contributing to the betterment of society. In the words of the Book of Proverbs ‘By knowledge these rooms are filled with all precious and pleasant riches’ (Proverbs 24:4). With these new classrooms, we can introduce a range of exciting subjects to our curriculum. Applied Technology and Technology have been integrated into both junior and senior cycle courses this year, offering our students opportunities to explore and excel in these essential fields. This expansion enhances our capacity to adapt to the evolving needs of education and ensures that our students are well-prepared for the challenges of the modern world. In addition to the classroom extension, our commitment to providing an optimal learning environment extends to other crucial areas. This summer, we embarked on an ambitious project to transform the heating system in the existing part of the school, an investment that exceeded €850,000. The school also welcomed a state-of-the-art fitness suite in September, made possible through DES funding as part of an initiative for practical subjects and Leaving Certificate PE. Furthermore, the existing astro turf pitch now boasts a state-of-the-art 4G surface, enhancing the extra curricular experiences of our students. In addition, last week the school received confirmation from the DES that we have been approved for a further 3 classroom extension. These rooms will be specialist SEN rooms and will also include a multi activity room, daily living skills room as well as toilet and shower facilities. With the help of Noel Merrick in the Building Unit of the JMB the Senior Management Team and Board of Management have already started the process of tendering for a Design Team and it is hoped that this will be in place in early 2024. As we celebrate these accomplishments, it's essential to recognise that this is an exciting time to be part of our school community. We are building on the wonderful legacy of the Sisters of Mercy, a legacy characterised by care, compassion, and an unwavering commitment to education. The land and buildings we inherit are not just physical assets but vessels of the rich values and traditions that make us the successful school we are today. It is these values that guide us, and it is the dedication of successive generations of staff and students that continues to breathe life, direction and purpose into our school. In conclusion, let us embrace this moment with gratitude for the past, excitement for the present, and a profound sense of responsibility for the future. Our new extension symbolises progress, growth, and a continued commitment to providing the best possible education for our students. Thank you all for being part of this journey, and I look forward to witnessing the positive impact our enhanced facilities will have on the generations to come. Ar agaidh linn go leir. ‘’

The formal speeches concluded as Minister for Social Protection and Rural and Community Development Heather Humphrey’s addressed the audience as follows: ‘’Oireachtas Members and Councillors; Bishop Larry Duffy, Reverend Sisters, School Principal Mr Eddie Kelly; Deputy Principals Ms Jane Treanor, Mr Darren Bishop and all the school staff, Chairperson of the Board of Management, Dr Gary Carville; distinguished Guests; Ladies and Gentlemen and most importantly all the parents and indeed students at Our Lady’s Secondary School – Good afternoon to you all. I am absolutely delighted to be here with you today as we celebrate the official opening of this magnificent new 15 classroom extension and I bring best wishes from the Minister for Education Norma Foley. And my sincerest thank you to your school Principal Mr Kelly and all the team here at Our Lady’s Secondary School for the kind invitation to be here today and to mark this special occasion with you all. Along with the official opening of this fantastic new extension, today also gives us an opportunity to celebrate and recognise the great work that happens here at Our Lady’s Secondary School every single day- and that work has been going on for over 50 years! So, the number of people gathered here today really is a testament to the respect that this community has for the work of this wonderful school. It’s great to be joined by our local clergy members; present and retired members of staff; representatives from the parents’ association, the board of management and the student council. We have members of the Castleblayney & Carrickmacross Municipal District; the senior management team of Our Lady’s Secondary School and the CEO of the patron body of CEIST, Gerry Guill. We are also joined too by so many of those who were involved in the planning and building of this fantastic new extension. So, this really is a whole-of-community effort and there are so many people here today who are rightly proud that we have now reached this tremendous milestone for Our Lady’s Secondary School and can I just say a special thank you to Hazel Hughes and Shane Miller for their lovely warm welcome. The state-of-the-art classrooms, the new practical rooms and the upgrades to some of the existing facilities really do show the commitment of Our Lady’s to the welfare and the personal development of all the students. It’s a sense of commitment that is based on providing a quality learning environment for you all, as well as for the thousands of young people who will walk through these doors for many years to come. I often say when I pay a visit to a school that one of the most important resources in any school are the teachers and staff. It is their hard work and commitment that brings the value to these rooms that we are officially opening today. And as students, it is your engagement and enthusiasm that will bring these rooms to life. So, on that note, I’d ask that you give all your teachers and the school staff a very big ‘Bula Bus’. I have to say that meeting students and visiting schools really is one of the most enjoyable aspects of my work. I get to meet our future politicians, carers, artists, doctors, sports stars, professors and so much more. I also get to meet our future politicians and I know that your teacher Dr. Paddy Mulroe has instilled in you a great interest in politics and these seeds of interest that are sown at Our Lady’s will thrive and develop and some of you may become our future leaders. It has been my pleasure to have students from Our Lady’s at work experience in my office and the most recent was Diarmuid Coyle. Of course, Our Lady’s has been very successful academically and on the sports field and musically. Last week in Dublin at the final of the All Ireland ShowChoir you won the award for the best vocal group under the guidance of your teacher Ms. Cara Murray. Your success on the sporting field be it Gaelic, Basketball, Soccer or Athletics is worthy of note and I have to say a big congratulations to Hazel Hughes, Niamh Flanagan, Laura Grimes and Tara Renaghan Ulster All Star GAA winners. So, I wish you, the students, many happy and productive years of learning both here at Our Lady’s and beyond as you embark on what I have no doubt will be successful careers and I wish you, the staff, many happy and purposeful years of work and a special word of mention to the caretakers Hugh, Stephen and their team who have the school in such great condition. I want to thank the Chairperson of the Board of Management Dr. Gary Carville and the Board of Management for all their work and I know today is a particularly proud day for my good friend Aidan Campbell who diligently serves on the Board of Management. Whether you’re a student or a staff member, you should all remember that together you belong to this wonderful school community- today is a proud day and a day of celebration for you all. Thank you for your warm hospitality and well done once again to everyone involved, and of course you are not sitting on your laurels because there is more work to be done and I was delighted that two weeks ago we got confirmation from Minister Foley that funding has been provided for three further classrooms. I wish you well with the work and you should be very proud of your achievements. Go raibh maith agaibh go léir.’’

After the formal speeches concluded, the Bishop of Clogher Larry Duffy blessed the new extension, guests were treated to a guided tour of the new extension and indulged in refreshments at the Iontas Arts and Community Centre, marking a fitting end to a day filled with celebration and gratitude. Our Lady's Secondary School looks forward to a future where students can learn, grow and achieve to their highest potential in the modern and up-to-date learning environment provided by the new extension.


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