Minister for Education urged to save music school in Blackrock

Privately run Newpark Academy of Music ceased trading in May without notice

Vocalist Lauren Kinsella was a student at the music academy in Blackrock, Co Dublin

Minister for Education Norma Foley has been urged to intervene to save a music school that counts Hozier and jazz musician Lauren Kinsella among its graduates.

The Newpark Academy of Music with 600 students and 42 teachers ceased trading in May without notice after operating as a charity since 1979 in the grounds of Newpark Comprehensive School in Blackrock, Co Dublin.

The school is, however, a privately run operation and not under the remit of the Department of Education although the building is leased from the department.

Fine Gael Senator Barry Ward said “the lease is owned by the Department of Education” and “only the department can take away that lease”.


Mr Ward said the department “must step in to safeguard this school because if the Newpark Academy of Music closes” a “whole collection of potentially hugely successful musicians will essentially be prevented from gaining a quality music education as they have been doing for a long number of years”.

‘Staff are in shock’: Newpark Academy of Music in south Dublin to closeOpens in new window ]

Raising the issue in the Upper House, he cited graduates of the school including “Hozier and big names in music like drummers Rory Doyle and Sean Carpio, and singers like Aoife Doyle and Lauren Kinsella”.

Rory Doyle, drummer and backing vocalist with Hozier’s band for a number of years is an established session drummer and plays with The Walls. Sean Carpio is a drummer and composer with Bog Bodies, while Lauren Kinsella is a jazz musician and singer, and Aoife Doyle a singer-songwriter.

Mr Ward said the staff and students “ cannot get answers from the board or the people managing the school. It is grossly unfair on them. Importantly, it also shuts down that vital pipeline of musical education for Blackrock”.

He also said he understood no notification was made to the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment “in relation to the 42 staff who are to be made redundant or what procedures will be put in place for them”.

“Perhaps most puzzling of all for everyone is what the rationale was for closing this school. It appeared on the face of it to be so successful and so busy with 600 students. Why can it not be preserved as a going concern?”

He said if there is “financial difficulty or organisational difficulty, or whatever it might be, the Department of Education must step in to safeguard this school”.

Minister of State Thomas Byrne said, however, that the school is a separate entity from Newpark Comprehensive, though it operated from Melfield House, a 200-year old building. “It simply does not come within the remit of the Department of Education,” said Mr Byrne, standing in for Ms Foley.

He said the department was aware of the recent decision by the board of the academy to cease operations. “The department’s understanding is that this decision has been based on operational and financial concerns. The department was not involved in any decision to close the Newpark music school.”

Marie O'Halloran

Marie O'Halloran

Marie O'Halloran is Parliamentary Correspondent of The Irish Times