Minister for Education opens €1.5m extension at Westmeath school
Wilson’s Hospital School was country’s first fee-paying Protestant school to drop tuition fees and go public
Church of Ireland Primate and Archbishop of Armagh Richard Clarke (above) joined Minister for Education Ruairí Quinn and Archbishop of Dublin and Primate of Ireland Michael Jackson for the opening of a €1.5 million 16-room extension to Wilson’s Hospital School at Multyfarnham near Mullingar yesterday. Photograph: Pacemaker/Arthur Allison.
Minister for Education Ruairí Quinn officially opened a new €1.5 million 16-room extension to Wilson’s Hospital School in Co Westmeath yesterday.
In 2011, Wilson’s Hospital became the country’s first fee-paying Protestant school to drop tuition fees and go public, a move Mr Quinn said other schools of the same tradition are considering.
Mr Quinn was joined by Church of Ireland Primate and Archbishop of Armagh Richard Clarke and Archbishop of Dublin and Primate of Ireland Michael Jackson for the opening at Multyfarnham, near Mullingar.
Speaking after the event, Mr Quinn said the model in place at the school, where the educational component can qualify for benefits while the boarding and supervised study are funded by the parents, has worked very satisfactorily. “I know that other schools of a similar background are in discussion with the Department of Education,” he said.
A private school offering boarding services is entitled to come into the State school funding system while continuing to charge for non-tuition services.
Chairman of the school’s board of governors Ken Davis said the school was founded in 1761 thanks to the dreams of wealthy merchant Andrew Wilson. “I am certain he would be very pleased, if not a trifle amazed, at what has happened to his dream over the 250 years,” he remarked.
Modern boarding school
He said the 1,584 sq m extension puts Wilson’s Hospital School “on a par with the best of its class in the country as a modern boarding school”.
Dr Clarke praised the staff, the Department of Education, the volunteers and all those who helped in securing the extension. “I think in the Ireland in which we live, the volunteer sector is one which is being eroded, it is one that is much harder to find people who will help on a volunteer basis in the life of the nation,” he said.
Citing the work of the late Seamus Heaney, Dr Clarke said: “Seamus Heaney as a man and in his poetry allowed us to have space behind words to see a world that we might not otherwise have seen, an Ireland that we might not otherwise have encountered.”