Exciting times as we turn the sod for our new school!

May 7, 2024

On Thursday 21st March last, World Down Syndrome day, it was only fitting that St. Mary’s Special School pupil Ciarán Craig, ably assisted by his mother Ann and Minister for Education Norma Foley should do the honours and turn the sod for our new school, located on a brand new site on the campus of St. Finian’s College, Mullingar.

This “turning of the sod” ceremony represented a momentous and historic occasion for the entire school community of St. Mary’s. It will be a tremendous addition to have a modern purpose-built educational facility to meet the needs of our pupils and ensure best outcomes for all.

Our new school building will be a home for the promotion of excellence in teaching, learning and assessment in special education for generations to come. The locating of St. Mary’s, a special school and a very large mainstream secondary school on the same campus is a historic and landmark development locally in education.

As referenced by Minister Norma Foley in her speech to mark the occasion, the shared campus model for St. Finian’s College and the new home for our school St. Mary’s is “best practice” for modern education.

This shared campus will offer wonderful opportunities for integration, inclusion and indeed reverse inclusion going forward.

This new purpose built school will include occupational therapy, physical therapy and speech and language rooms, indoor sensory rooms and outdoor sensory gardens, our pupils will also have direct access to their own outdoor green space and play areas from within their classrooms.

It was wonderful to have so many of our pupils join us on the day to meet the Minister and display their individual talents and abilities. Pupil Darija from Junior Infants presented Minister Foley with a beautiful piece of artwork created by our pupils, whilst pupils Ciarán and Laura greeted and communicated with the Minister using a combination of Lámh sign language and in addition communicated with her using their AAC devices to further build on this communication. Pupil Matthew had previously met Minister Foley, alongside his Dad and board of management member, Edmund Bridge and the Minister was delighted to get reacquainted with both.

This is an extremely exciting time for the school community of St. Mary’s. The hard-working and committed team will continue to grow, develop and achieve excellence in line with the founding vision and ethos of the Sisters of Charity of Jesus and Mary.