The oil was stolen from Graignamanagh Boys National School for the second time in six weeks recently, and the consequences could be not just financial but also environmental.
On the first occasion the pipe was cut in one place, but on the second occasion the pipe was cut in two separate places, which caused more extensive damage, said school principal Jennifer Barron. In that instance, the school was without heat for three days while the repairs were carried out.
It appears that the thieves were disturbed in the act, because they left behind one of the drums and some of their tools, Ms Barron said. And the school had to bring in consultants to test the soil because it could be contaminated and could possibly end up in the River Barrow.
The principal said that the cost was not clear at this stage but that “there are going to be huge ramifications.”
Measures had already been taken to secure the oil, she noted. “It is a brand-new heating system that was only put in place through emergency funding from the department less than 18 months ago,” she said.
Now the school is fund-raising in the hope of raising €300 or €400 to install CCTV cameras and to block off the area more securely.
On a positive note, the school has already seen an outpouring of generosity from the community, with offers of heaters and donations from parents and past parents at the school.
“We have been so lucky. It is great to see – it gives a great feeling of goodwill. Our Parents Association is fantastic,” Ms Barron said.
The school’s annual Christmas market – which in previous years has generated donations upwards of €1,000 to the local Society of St Vincent de Paul – will instead have to raise money towards preventing future oil thefts.
The Christmas market will be held on December 16 after Mass and will include crafts made by each of the classes in the school.