Cistercian College, Roscrea

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Coláiste Cisteirseach Ros Cré
Cistercian College, Roscrea
County Offaly
Republic of Ireland
Religious affiliation(s) (Cistercian Order)
Established 1905
Principal Mr. Brendan Feehan
Number of students 167
Vice Principal Mr. Gerard Grealish
Abbot Dom. Richard Purcell ocso

Cistercian College, Roscrea or Roscrea College is a private boarding school in Ireland. It is a Roman Catholic seven-day boarding school for boys and was founded in 1905. The current school President and Principal is Mr. Brendan Feehan.The Deputy Principal is Mr Gerard Grealish. Its pupil population is primarily made up of boarding students, though a small number of teachers' sons also attend as day pupils.


College grounds

Located within the grounds of Mount St. Joseph Abbey in County Offaly, Ireland, the school is managed by monks of the Trappist branch of the Cistercians. It is situated in the grounds of Mount Saint Joseph Abbey, 2.5 miles west of Roscrea town. Surrounded by open wooded countryside and thirty acres of grounds and sports fields, it also adjoins the Abbey farm of 360 hectares.The original property and lands are Mount Heaton House (now the guesthouse) and Demense in the townsland of Ballyskenagh, which is actually in the territory of Ely O'Carroll in the Kings County now County Offaly. The House, School, Abbey, Farm and playing fields are just across the county border from Tipperary in County Offaly and so the school plays its sport in Leinster competitions. Roscrea is the nearest large town and so the postal address is Roscrea. Co.Tipperary. Some confusion exists because Tipperary is a Munster County and questions are asked why the school does not play in Munster competitions.[1]


The school was founded by the Cistercian monks in 1905 as a monastic boarding school for boys and has educated students from all over Ireland and Overseas. CCR is one of two monastic schools in Ireland and in 1990 a Board of Governors was appointed by the Abbot to govern the administration of the college.

In the 17th Century Dr Richard Heaton, a Yorkshire born Church of Ireland clergyman and botanist who had mortgaged the land,[2] his son Edward built the house on the remnants of castle, renamed it Mount Heaton.[3] In 1877 it was in the ownership of the Nationalist, Home Rule supporting MP the Catholic, Count Arthur John Moore. Moore donated the six hundred-acre property, a mansion and its walled garden to the Cistercians. The Cistercians moved into Roscrea from their abbey at Mount Melleray in February 1878. The church was built using a foundation stone from Roman Catacombs in 1879 was finally completed in 1881.

Saved from Closure[edit]

In February 2017 it was announced that the College would cease taking new enrollments due to financial difficulties caused by falling student numbers. However, following a public meeting attended by over 300 people, an action group made up of parents and past pupils was formed.[4] The group was charged with raising funds to supplement the school's finances and developing a long term strategy to make the school self sustaining again. Great progress was made [5] and on March 16, 2017, it was announced that the school would remain open after funding was secured by past pupils and parents.[6][7] Following on from the fund raising, donations from former pupils and financial changes which saved the school from closure, Cistercian College is to offer scholarships to students who excel in a number of academic subjects and sports to cover 50% of school fees.[8]


The influence of the Abbey is an integral part of the college and daily life is influenced by the presence of the few remaining Cistercian monks. Though most of the school's current teaching staff are now lay-persons, a tiny number of Cistercian monks and brothers take part in the school's administration and chaplaincy.

The college aspires to be a Christian community of learning, a worshipping community with an awareness of the presence of God in daily life and in the preparation of pupils for adult life.

Culture of Roscrea College[edit]

The school yearbook is known as The Vexillum. Referred to by the boys as The Vex, it is produced annually towards the summer holidays and usually distributed on the final evening before the last summer exams. It is compiled by the pupils. It contains reports on sporting and non-sporting events throughout the year, including the hurling and rugby campaigns and 6th year profiles. It is a lasting memento for past pupils from their time in the College. Each year a musical is held, around the time of the mid-term break at Halloween. It is a tradition going back to the founding of the school. Boys from all years are encouraged to participate, whether it be directly on stage, or with sound/lighting/costumes backstage.


Cistercian College Roscrea created history on St.Patrick's Day 2015 when the Senior Cup Team won the school's first ever Leinster Schools' Senior Challenge Cup the blue riband of schools rugby with a history dating back to 1887. Roscrea are one of the oldest participants in the competition, certainly going back to at least 1910, when they played in that years final. The school has a national and international reputation for sporting achievement.[9] Boys have the opportunity to receive coaching and subsequently compete in a large number of sports. Team games are served by the facilities that include:

  • Extensive playing fields (rugby, hurling, gaelic football, and soccer)
  • An all-weather pitch
  • Heated indoor swimming pool
  • Basketball court
  • Tennis courts
  • Gymnasium

The main sports played are rugby and hurling during the autumn and spring and athletics during the late spring early summer. The school's sporting colours are black and white. The school has produced professional rugby players, county hurlers and representatives on the Irish Athletics team notably in hammer and hurdles.[citation needed]

The College's Sports Complex provides indoor facilities for a wide range of sporting activities.[citation needed]

Debating and Public Speaking[edit]

Irish, English and German-language debating teams compete each year from Cistercian College. They have most notably won the all-Ireland debating competition Comórtas an Phiarsaigh in 2010 and the GDI All-Ireland German Debating Competition in 2013.[10] Coached by two teachers from the school, all students are encouraged to try out for the debating teams. In-house public speaking competitions take place in each year, with the Silver Medal being awarded to the winner from Third Year, and the Gold Medal to the winner from Sixth Year.


The students have access to a 9-hole golf course. A golf team participates each year in competition.


Horse riding is a popular sport in the college as well as show jumping, where students have represented the country at international competitions.

Notable former students[edit]

Colin Gallagher- 1 width of the pool Ennis champion


The college celebrated its centenary year from September 2005 until September 2006, giving rise to many events, visits and talks from famous past students and their friends. The speakers included; President of Ireland Mary McAleese, Dick Spring, Brian Cowen, Mary Hanafin and Charlie McCreevy.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ We’ve debunked Irish schools rugby’s greatest mystery – Why don’t Roscrea play in Munster? Will Slattery,The 42, March 15, 2015.
  2. ^ An Irishmans diary by Chris Dooley, Irish Times, Saturday, Oct 4, 2003
  3. ^ Mount Saint Joseph Cistercian Monastery Roscrea History Online
  4. ^ Parents and former students battle to save Cistercian College Roscrea by Sean Ryan,, 26 February 2017.
  5. ^ Funding sought to save top school
  6. ^ Parents and past pupils secure future of Cistercian College Patsy McGarry, Irish Times, March 16, 2017.
  7. ^ Roscrea's Cistercian College saved after €1.5m raised, March 16, 2017
  8. ^ Private School to offer series of new student scholarships by Claire Murphy, News Education, Irish Independent, May 13, 2017.
  9. ^ "Another joust with brave Cistercians". 2012. 
  10. ^ "Congratulations to the Winners of Comórtas an Phiarsaigh 2010!" (in English and Irish). 2010. Retrieved 22 October 2011. 

External links[edit]