1 Eanáir 2016
Ina visit to Coláiste Eoghain Uí Chomhraidhe in Carrigaholt in mid-March, Minister of State at the Department of Arts, Heritage and Gaeltacht Affairs Joe McHugh undertook to support the proposed modernisation of the 102-year-old college.
The college board is planning to upgrade the facilities, which they hope will help to establish additional classes at the college. It currently caters for Irish language pupils in June, July and August.
"My specific role is within the Gaeltacht and while West Clare is not in the Gaeltacht, where I see people making an effort with regard to the Irish language. I will do my utmost to help out. If we can come up with a join plan here in the college, there has to be a role for the Department of Education in a collaborative effort, where you have a community with massive history on their side," Minister McHugh told The Clare Champion.
During his visit Minister McHugh met college Ard Mhaistir Domhnall O'Loinsigh and college director Assumpta Concannon, while he was accompanied by Deputy Pat Breen and Councillor Gabriel Keating.
"If you were looking at a green-field site, you'd be talking a lot of money. There's good quality infrastructure here. The have reinvested in the windows but a lot of the facilities are old and from a health and safety point of view, parents who send children to the college want to know that their children are going to be sage and we have to be very conscious of that as well. I think in time these schools will become more international, in that parents in countries around the world may decide to come back. If there were options for Irish people abroad to send their children back to Ireland for a couple of weeks during the summer, I think we have to look at that. We should look at the fact that the colleges are empty in the winter time and consider are there opportunities all year round?" the Donegal TD suggested.
Meanwhile, Domhnall O'Loinsigh believes there is significant scope for the college if it is upgraded.
"Coláiste Eoghain Uí Chomhraidhe has colossal potential. It is situated in what was once a Gaeltacht, not too long ago. There are people here today whose grandparents spoke Gaeilge. it's quite close to the surface and if you go down to the village, there are people there who will speak Gaeilge to you and who have a comprehension of Gaeilge. Who knows, we might get a bit of community development going and the colaiste might become a hub of development. I'm talking about economic and culture development. We're hoping that this will happen in the very short term and that in three years time, we will be able to say that we have a new coláiste, including lovely accommodation, good classrooms and the best of audio-visual and multimedia equipment," he said, before suggesting that a college museum could be established.
"The 102 years of history has to be promoted some way, be it in a museum or an archive. There's huge potential here. All that will stop ius is our own limitations. The way we are approaching it is that we are going to do a masterplan, which will have a bottom line and will be costed by our project managers McNamara and Company. The we will know what we will need to aim for. I honestly think it will have to be done all in one go. To do it piecemeal would be wrong. Hopefully, by the summer of 2017 we will have it done," he said at the time.
It emerged in December that plans have been drawn up and presented to Education Minister Jan O'Sullivan, Minister for Sport and Tourism Michael Ring and Minister for the Gaeltacht Joe McHugh.