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19.09.2022

‘A labour of love’ – East Glendalough School celebrates opening of new sports hall

“It is a testament to the community of East Glendalough School that in the fullness of time these things happen.”
‘A labour of love’ – East Glendalough School celebrates opening of new sports hall - “It is a testament to the community of East Glendalough School that in the fullness of time these things happen.”
Archdeacon of Glendalough Neal O’Raw, EGS principal Craig Petrie, chair of the board Geoffrey Perrin, Archbishop Michael Jackson, Minister Simon Harris, Rector of Wicklow and Killiskey Jack Kinkead and EGS vice–principal Viv Wier at the opening of the new EGS sports hall.

Years of planning, fundraising and hard work came to fruition on Friday afternoon (September 16) with the official opening of East Glendalough School’s wonderful new sports hall. The sports hall, which will be a fantastic resource for both the school community and the community of Wicklow, was dedicated by Archbishop Michael Jackson. The ribbon was cut by both the Archbishop and Minister for Further and Higher Education, Simon Harris.

The guests who gathered in the new 1,350 square metre hall to celebrate the milestone included current and past students, staff and people involved in the school’s 35 year history. All four principals were present – Peter Shearer, Christopher Woods and Alan Cox joined current principal Craig Petrie.

Archbishop Jackson noted that the sports hall was being opened a day after the death of former Rector of Wicklow, Canon Stanley Pettigrew, who was one of those involved in founding East Glendalough School. He said that this involvement of generations of people helped build a sense of community in the school which breeds confidence in the lives of students past and present.

Before dedicating the building, he applauded everyone who helped make the construction of the new sports hall happen. “People have donated. People have done the hard graft. Now this building will be here for the enjoyment of all,” he said. Included in the dedication was a prayer for citizenship and he observed that school life was not just about academic endeavours but about learning to be citizens.

Minister Simon Harris said that the day of celebration provided an opportunity to say thank you. He thanked the school for its contribution to the wider community and all the staff for their work over the past two years in particular. “It has been an extraordinary time for education. We have come through an extraordinarily difficult number of years and I want to thank everyone in East Glendalough for keeping the show on the road in terms of meeting the educational and wellbeing needs of young people in this area,” he said.

The Minister also thanked the board of management, the chairman Geoffrey Perrin and his team. He commended Mr Perrin and Mr Petrie for their determination in getting the sports hall built. He said the incredibly generous school community had brought them to the point of opening the building. He singled out the schools PE teacher, Mr McGettigan, noting that he had spent his entire PE teaching career providing innovative, useful and versatile instruction in a sports hall a third of the size of the new building. He wished him well as he continued to provide education in the new state of the art facility.

He praised the school on its recent sporting success noting that it would make some quite envious with the girls winning Leinster and All Ireland titles in sevens rugby last year. Last year also the girls’ team won, on their first attempt, Leinster and All Ireland GAA titles. Mr Harris spoke of the importance of exercise and sport in contributing to well being and development of young people.

Geoffrey Perrin, said that as a school which prided itself as a centre of excellence in the areas of academic, social, spiritual and physical development the board had been aware that they had struggled to meet these high standards in physical education. “We are finally there and for a non fee paying school to raise €1.5 million has been some achievement,” he remarked noting it was only 10 years since EGS opened its astro pitch.

The fundraising was helped by the trustees of the Assembly Hall in Wicklow town as well as a sum left in a will. “But it has been the support from the school community that has been so crucial and constant […] So to all of you thank you for digging deep and, as I see it, for never losing faith. There were of course the dark days, the set backs – the policy of the DES was not to build sports halls, we hit planning problems, we couldn’t get lottery funding, our applications for sports capital funding hit unexpected snags, Covid virtually stopped a great deal of fundraising and all the while the cost of materials kept rising. We have a few more things to do but I am confident we will achieve these before long,” he stated. He paid tribute to Mr Petrie and vice–principal Viv Weir for their dedication.

Mr Petrie said the campaign continued and the next job was to get the sprung wooden floor and the changing rooms. He thanked Gym Plus for the donation of equipment and everyone who had given financial as well as previous boards, parents’ associations and staff. He thanked Ms Wier and her team for organising the opening and his colleagues and the board for their support.

“It has been a labour of love to get this building up and running. I was checking the minutes this morning and on 13 September 1999 Geoffrey chaired his first meeting of the board of management. Two months later there is a note that a group of parents were putting together a group to look at building a sports hall. And so over a generation the work that goes on in this place culminates in something like this. It is a testament to the community of East Glendalough School that in the fullness of time these things happen […] At this moment and at this time this group of people leave this legacy behind for all of those people to come, for the people who come through the doors as students of our school, for the people who come through those doors from our community. East Glendalough continues to be a beacon in this place and a place where we are privileged to be part of a community,” he concluded.

Archbishop Michael Jackson, Minister Simon Harris and principal Craig Petrie cut the ribbon for the new EGS sports hall.
Archbishop Michael Jackson, Minister Simon Harris and principal Craig Petrie cut the ribbon for the new EGS sports hall.

 

A generation of people who have been involved in the school attended the official opening.
A generation of people who have been involved in the school attended the official opening.
The four EGS principals, Peter Shearer, current principal Craig Petrie, Alan Cox and Christopher Woods with chairman of the board of management Geoffrey Perrin (Centre).
The four EGS principals, Peter Shearer, current principal Craig Petrie, Alan Cox and Christopher Woods with chairman of the board of management Geoffrey Perrin (Centre).

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