Irish Schools PPP Programme – Bundle 3

The Bundle 3 Project was the third PPP project in the Irish Schools PPP programme and consisted of the design, build, finance, and maintenance of eight schools (seven post-primary schools and one primary school) on seven sites providing approximately 5,700 pupil spaces.

The project involved the construction of new schools in rapidly developing areas, replacement of existing schools, and new accommodation for schools formed by the amalgamation of existing schools.

The sites include:

  • Creagh College (Gorey, Co Wexford) – a new 1,000 pupil post-primary school.
  • Ardscoil Na Mara (Tramore, Co Waterford) – a new 1,000 pupil post-primary school amalgamating CBS Tramore and Stella Maris schools.
  • Merlin College Post Primary School (Doughiska, Galway City, Co. Galway) – a new 650 pupil school.
  • Merlin Woods Primary School (Doughiska, Galway City, Co. Galway ) – a new 450 pupil primary school.
  • Athlone Community College (Athlone, Co. Westmeath) – a new 1,000 pupil post-primary School replacing the existing school on the site.
  • Ballinamore Community School (Ballinamore, Co. Leitrim) – a new 400 pupil post-primary school amalgamating Fatima and Felim’s Secondary School and Ballinamore Vocational School.
  • Gaelcholáiste, Coláiste Ailigh (Letterkenny, Co. Donegal) – a new 350 pupil post-primary school to provide permanent accommodation for the Gaelcholáiste established in 2000.
  • Scoil na Tríonóide Naofa (Doon, Co. Limerick) – a new 850 pupil post-primary school amalgamating St. Fintan’s and St Joseph’s, Doon and Coláiste Mhicill, Cappamore.

SPV General Manager Liam Roche outlines some of the key aspects of the development.

"A major issue during construction was building within a 'live' school environment at Athlone. A plan was put in place to enable the different stages of the works to be undertaken but allow the existing premises still to function. That included providing temporary accommodation including a gym, a new GAA pitch, a football pitch, basketball courts, and demolishing existing buildings while avoiding disruption to school life."


Continuous consultation with the school management ensured that all phases were carried out without impacting on school activities. Plans were also devised to accommodate examination timetables and give consideration to school opening and closing times.

Liam continued:

"Another key issue was working around wildlife concerns, specifically the presence of badgers on the site. Various surveys were carried out, in consultation with the National Parks and Wildlife Service, and a total of 14 badger setts were discovered in the construction area.

"As construction was not permitted during breeding season, it was necessary to phase it around these areas. Eventually, a badger license was obtained which allowed for the destruction of any inactive sets with the entrances to the remaining active setts treated as follows depending on their proximity to the building footprint."

Commitment to innovation

A significant concern for stakeholders was the fact that delivery of all eight schools would take place on the same day. However, all of the projects were delivered on-time and on-budget to the satisfaction of all stakeholders.

BAM’s commitment to innovation was evident from a number of measures implemented across the individual sites.

The school buildings are all bright and spacious with suitable acoustic environments and designed to be flexible so they can be adapted to promote different forms of learning in future.

A specific proposition was produced for each of the eight schools with all designs being tailored in response to individual sites and briefs, as outlined by the Authority.

"The BAM team, under the leadership of Site Manager Liam Croke, have been extremely good to deal with. We were kept informed throughout all stages of the build, with regular aerial photographs, emails and telephone contact. They were most helpful and accommodating in every sense, and always ready to answer any queries I had on any aspect. 

"We are just settling into our new school building and I am delighted with the working relationship that we have had with the BAM Building team. I think this PPP model of 'build and maintain' is one which will work well for our commitment of high standards and diligence for our new and developing school."

Paula O’Connor
Principal, Merlin Woods Primary School, Galway

"BAM have delivered the project on time. This is a remarkable achievement given the scale and significant detailing in its design and realisation. More remarkable however is the apparent ease with which the various stages of construction were completed in an efficient and extremely organised and calm manner."

Padraig Cawley
Principal, Ardscoil na Mara, Tramore

"BAM Building delivered exactly what they were contracted to in a most efficient manner. The school finished ahead of schedule and was handed over on the appointed day. Workmanship is of the highest standards. During the course of build, BAM were courteous and responded to all reasonable access for staff and students."

Padraig Leyden
Principal, Ballinamore Community School, Co Leitrim