Parents and former students of Cistercian College in Roscrea (CCR) on the Tipperary/Offaly border have mounted a major campaign to save the famous secondary school from closure.
Last weekend, it was announced that the 112-year-old college, which
is under the trusteeship of the Cistercian Order, was closing due to
However, a meeting of past students held in the County Arms Hotel in
Birr on Wednesday 22 February heard that no effort will be spared to
save the historic college, which counts former Taoiseach Brian Cowen and
former Tánaiste Dick Spring amongst its illustrious alumni.
The Save CCR campaign meeting in Birr, which was attended by over 300
people, heard that the college had a running cost shortfall of €200,000
per annum, which could worsen in the 2017/2018 academic year.
reasons for the decision to close the college were its financial
viability and the broader issues of the changing nature of Irish society
Currently, the college has a total enrolment of 167 pupils, with
only 9 new first years booked in for next year.
The meeting was also
told that the college had capacity numbers for many years up to 2010.
2009/2010 the trustees of the school – the monks of Mount St Joseph
Abbey – had started to subsidise the financial shortfall at the college.
They sold a farm and put extra resources into the college.
was told that the current cost of running the college, excluding capital
expenditure and investment, is €2.4m per annum.
Ronnie Culliton, a past pupil who has sons in the school, challenged
those in attendance as to what kind of money would be available to any
new project for the school, asking people to consider what they would be
willing to contribute. “Let’s see what we can commit to,” he said.
Current Connacht rugby player Sean O’Brien, who completed his
education at the college in 2013, also spoke at the meeting. He said
that CCR “provides an unbelievable educational and sporting platform.
It’s worth even more than that as it creates an unbelievable bond among
students which you would not have in a day school. I know that many of
the past pupils of this school are willing to fight for its future.”
Meanwhile, in a letter sent to parents on Friday 24 February, Dom
Richard Purcell welcomed “the many heart-warming expressions of support
for Cistercian College Roscrea and the monastic community of Mount St
Joseph Abbey on foot of last Friday’s closure announcement by the
Furthermore, he added, “In recognition of this no further action will
be taken prior to 17 March pending engagement with the group to be
formed from among parents and past pupils to explore possible viable
proposals for the future of the college. While I do not wish to give any
false hope I have committed to give full consideration to any future
viable proposals, should one emanate from any such discussions.”