The move of St Joseph’s College (the Bish) from its current site in Nuns’ Island has once again come into focus, as plans are made for the regeneration of the entire area.
Since the early 2000s, a site on NUI Galway-owned lands has been earmarked for a new school – and in the current City Development Plan, councillors approved a material alteration to make way for the school’s move.
Funding for a new build has been secured from the Department of Education, but as yet, final approval has not been granted by officials.
That’s according to Chairperson of the school’s Board, Myles McHugh, who confirmed that it was still their intention to move westwards.
“The Bish needs a new school and it is our intention to apply for planning permission for a school at Dangan – on what are currently grounds owned by the University.
“That would involve a land-swap but it is all subject to planning permission and subject to Department of Education approval,” said Mr McHugh.
The proposal involves the Bish handing over its site in Nuns’ Island to the University in return for a four-acre site between NUI Galway’s hockey pitch and the N59 Moycullen Road, opposite Dangan Heights.
The University has also granted permission for the school to utilise its sports facilities – with the current site in Nuns’ Island is too small to provide any room for most extra-curricular activities.
Plans had been put on hold while the route of the N6 Galway City Ring Road (commonly referred to as the ‘outer bypass’) was still under consideration.
But now that plans for that project have been finalised, the way has been cleared to progress with the school’s move.
According to Mr McHugh, once the Department has given the go-ahead, the Board of Management will move to apply for planning permission.
“It is our wish, at St Joseph’s, that we will move to planning permission in the near future and be able to apply the funding already set aside by the Department of Education for a new school.
“We hope to apply for permission this year to build the new school at Dangan – that is the intention of the Board of Management. After that, our interest in Nuns’ Island will no longer exist,” said Mr McHugh, adding that a move in the near future was crucial to ensuring the school’s over 750 students had the best facilities available to them.
President of NUI Galway, Prof Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh confirmed that the University was still open to the move and that the site where the Bish currently stands would be included in the master plan for Nuns’ Island.