It was their best birthday present ever.
The grounds of St Mary’s and St Joseph’s Merged Primary School for the Deaf in Cabra – which celebrated its 170th birthday this week – have been transformed into an outdoor paradise for pupils.
Thanks to the generosity of 120 workers from Aer Lingus who gave up a day off for the cause, the school playground was transformed into a sensory and visually-stunning interactive play area for the deaf and hearing-impaired students and pre-schoolers.
Aer Lingus staff, from pilots and cabin crew to cleaners and IT staff got to work, raking soil, laying slabs and painting fences as part of the Difference Day charity team-building initiative.
Bamboo chimes, upright wooden pencils painted in bright primary colours and a horseshoe-shaped outdoor classroom under an apple tree are among the delights that will greet the students when they return to school on.
“We were so amazed and overwhelmed by what was possible that we knew that this project would be really right for our newly-merged school,” said Eimear O’Rourke, principal of St Mary’s School for Deaf Girls.
“Deaf children love to interact with the environment and that’s a very important part of language learning.”
Pilot Orla Clancy was relishing the “departure” from her normal duties to paint the pre-school fence a cheery blue.
“I’m delighted to do it,” she said.
“It’s a win-win for everyone and it’s great fun.”