05/01/2015 The Herald

An Foras Pátrúnachta / Press / 05/01/2015 The Herald

Mother Teresa's old school 'Gaelwarts' in demand as a wedding venue

Meet the class in Dublin's own 'Hogwarts' school in the building where Mother Teresa learned English.

The doors of Gael Cholaiste an Phiarsaig opened in September and accepted its first 16 students.

The Rathfarnham school is located in a former Loreto Abbey on the southside of the capital.

It has been described by many as Ireland's answer to Hogwarts, but the students have a better name for the historic building.

"They love it here. It is the Irish answer to Hogwarts, the students call it Gaelwarts," principal Joe Mac Suibhne told the Herald.

It was planned for development until the crash and then Nama took the keys. Nama sold the school earlier this year to the Department of Education for a reported €2.3m.

It is the first post-primary Gaelscoil to open on the south of the Liffey in more than a decade and it's is hoped that the entire building when completed will cater for 500 students.

It is believed that the Department of Education will need to invest a total of €12m into the building to fully revamp it. Mother Teresa of Calcutta studied English here when she came to Ireland in the 1920s.

Mr Mac Suibhne said that his young pupils do understand the significance of their school.

"It is a really beautiful building," he said. "The school is in demand but we are only enrolling the year before students are due to start. We are not letting people enrol ten years in advance; we want to keep it fair."

The mixed school will take in three classes of first years next September. There are currently six teachers working in the school.

"It's a great atmosphere we have at the minute, it's like a family. We hope to keep hold of that," he said.

Students and staff are currently restricted to one part of the building.

"It will be refurbished as we go along," the principal explained.

"We are actually based in the oldest part at the moment, it was built in 1725. It's a beautiful period building."

"The rooms are all very large, with 15ft high that all have ornate coving," he explained.

There is also a church located within the abbey.

"The church is a fabulous building. I have people emailing me to have their weddings here," Mr Mac Suibhne revealed.

It's not the first time that the 250-year-old building has housed a school. Up until the mid-1990s it was Catholic boarding school for girls.

Any building work that was carried out was done very carefully and an architecture team are currently drawing up plans for the refurbishment.


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