Niall Murray, Irish Examiner.
Tears flowed for infants and parents parting at the classroom door for the first time, but they are not the only ones marking new beginnings this week.
The doors to 11 new schools will swing open over the coming days in response to the latest baby boom. These are newly established schools, separate to new buildings that may be occupied by existing schools.
Among them are seven primary schools taking in their first infant classes, five in Dublin, and one each in counties Cork and Kildare. There are two new Galway second-level schools and one each in Dublin and Meath.
All 11 are multi- denominational schools under the patronage of Educate Together, local education and training boards (formerly vocational education committees), or An Foras Pátrúnachta.
Many are in temporary premises until new purpose-built schools are ready to occupy, but they will only be enrolling infant or first-year classes each year, so it will be a number of years before they all need to have permanent full-capacity accommodation.
The largest new primary school is the Rochestown Educate Together National School in the southside suburb of Cork. It will eventually have a 24-classroom school although it will not be completed this year.
But the infant class has already had a taste of what lies ahead in their temporary home at the Douglas Hall soccer club grounds. A play day for incoming pupils at the weekend gave children and parents a chance to meet each other and their teacher Noirín Moore.
“The children were very excited to see where their new school will be. We look forward to meeting them all for their first day of school on Thursday, and having a cup of tea or coffee with the parents to mark this special occasion in the lives of their family,” said principal Alan Sheehan.
While there are no faith-based schools opening this year, two new denominational second-level schools are set to enrol their first students in 2014. Education Minister Ruairi Quinn announced a year ago that a Church of Ireland school is to open in Greystones, Co Wicklow.
A new school will also open in a year’s time in the Mulhuddart/ Tyrellstown area of Dublin under the patronage of Le Chéile Schools Trust.
The eight other second- level schools set to open in Sept 2014 include three all-Irish schools, in Carrigaline, Co Cork, and Balbriggan and Dundrum in Dublin. An all-Irish unit is to be attached to a new school opening in Maynooth, Co Kildare, with the prospect of it becoming an independent Gaelcholáiste if enough enrolment interest is shown in the first four years.