14 January 1999 Edition

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New home for Meánscoil Feirste

The move of Meánscoil Feirste into the old St Mary's Hostel behind the Beechmount Leisure Centre on the Falls Road was completed on Monday of this week when Belfast's only Irish Medium Education secondary school opened its new premises to 300 school children.

Originally the manor home of the Riddle landlords, the site was purchased for £500,000 with another £500,000 being spent on building and refurbishment. The mix of new and old sits with a commanding view of the Mourne mountains to the south, Cave Hill to the north and across the Lagan to the east is Stormont.

Príomhoide (Principle) Fearghas O hIr and Leas Príomhoide (Vice-Principle) Proinsias O Labhartha, speaking to An Phoblacht, said, ``this is a major step forward for the Irish language in Belfast and throughout Ireland. It is the best site of any Irish language institution in Ireland.''

Fearghas added, ``this move is a benefit for not only Belfast and the Irish language, but also for everyone in the broader community and a magnificent educational establishment for the students.''

Opened in 1991, Meánscoil Feirste only received official recognition and funding in 1996 for Irish education for 11-16 year olds and had to wait until two months ago for full recognition for 11-18 year olds. Fearghas said, ``what is needed next is a second meánscoil and a focus on third level Irish medium educational requirements.''

An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1