Posted by Tom Gilmore, Tuam Herald in News.

Six contractors have expressed interest in carrying out work at an industrial unit in Claregalway which will be the interim accommodation for the new secondary school, Coláiste Bhaile Chláir, due to open next September.

CEO with Co Galway VEC Joe McDonagh told this week’s meeting of the VEC that 135 students have now enrolled.

The number of prospective first-year students has moved up from the 120 who enrolled at an open evening for the school held in December, and everything is going to plan for the new facility, according to the CEO.

Planning permission for the new school has already been lodged with Galway Co Council and a decision on that is expected by February 19th.

At Monday’s VEC meeting Joe MCDonagh praised the work of Dr Paddy Tobin, Michael Hannon and the committee, and thanks to new technology by Dr Tobin, a lecturer and research supervisor at GMIT Letterfrack, and the work of a student at GMIT, Galway, they were able to get a virtual tour of the school that has yet to be built at an open night held in the village last week.

The recently appointed principal of Coláiste Bhaile Chláir, Alan Mongey, showed the newly enrolled children and their parents computer-generated 3D models of the new school building which opens in September.

The 3D walkthroughs were created by GMIT MSc student Gerard Nicholson using Building Information Modeling (BIM) software, which is used in engineering programmes in GMIT and in the Institute’s National Centre for Excellence in Furniture Design & Technology at Letterfrack.

“The models and walkthroughs are invaluable in communicating the size, scale and quality of the new temporary school building and facilities being located in the Claregalway Corporate Park,” says Alan Mongey.

“The project also represents the start of the school’s collaboration with GMIT, and later with NUIG, when we will work together on the new educational STEM initiative (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths).

Claregalway is one of a small group of schools, selected to pilot the STEM initiative nationally,” he added.

Dr.Tobin says the cutting-edge technology used to create the models is revolutionising the international construction industry.

“The Claregalway School is one of several Galway construction projects associated with this GMIT research project, including the recently completed Tuam Ambulance Centre and proposed community facilities in Claregalway.

“The research work has also involved local companies, including Galway construction firm Carey Construction and construction products manufacturer SIP-Energy in Athenry. It demonstrates again the potential for research projects at GMIT to link with and bring benefits to local and regional schools, community and industry,” says Dr Tobin.

At Monday’s VEC meeting both Dr Tobin and Michael Hannon were among those selected for the Claregalway school’s board of management.

The other VEC members on the board will be Cllr Jarlath McDonagh. Pat Gilmore, Chairman of Co Galway VEC, Maire Ní Céide and the retired manager of Tuam Community Training Centre, Frank Curley from Kilconly.

Cllr McDonagh said getting the new school was very important for the people in the wider Claregalway area, which he described as “the fastest growing new small town in Ireland”.

Cllr Liam Carroll said that the new school would do a lot for the “carbon footprint” of  the area as it would mean many fewer trips to the city schools by parents and their children.

CEO Joe McDonagh told Monday’s meeting that the recently appointed principal, Alan Mongey, is currently working in a temporary office in Claregalweay Community Centre. This will be the situation until accommodation is ready at the unit in Claregalway Corporate Park at which the school will operate from next September until a permanent structure is constructed at another site later.

The CEO added that they are also involved in talks with Bus Éireann with a view to providing school bus services from September.