“I feel that it is when there is a crisis, when times are most difficult, is when the tenacious and powerful fighting spirit of CCR is most vibrantly displayed. When our backs are to the wall that’s when Roscrea men dig deeper and pull through.”

Matthew Kavanagh first place in Ireland in Leaving Cert in 2014, he is currently studying medicine in TCD.

He was a member of the All Ireland winning German Debating team and the Irish debating team, he played the flute with the College Orchestra, played hurling with the College and represented the school in Athletics.

Matthew tells us what CCR meant for him.

“Starting off in CCR on a sunny August evening in 2008, I never could have imagined the 6 years that would ensue, the memories that would be created or the lifelong friendships that would be formed. Initial apprehension and fear of the unknown was quickly quenched and replaced with an enthusiasm and pride of place that I would never have considered possible.

 My six years in Roscrea came to an end with a crescendo in June 2014, culminating in me receiving one of the top leaving certs in the country. Looking back, I know for certain that CCR afforded me every opportunity to reach and exceed my potential academically but also in so many other aspects of life. The talent and enthusiasm of the teachers and staff as a whole inspired my classmates and I each and every day that we were lucky enough to be in the hallowed halls. In no other school in the country – maybe even the world, would someone like me have been able to captain a hurling team to a Leinster semi-final win, debate tri Ghaeilge and play in the orchestra for the school’s musical all in the one day during my leaving cert year. For this and so much more, I will be eternally grateful for all that CCR has done for me.

 This was only a snapshot of the opportunities that were put in front of each and every one of us. I was in awe of and inspired by the talent and dedication shown by all of the other boys in the school on a daily basis. For a school of small numbers, CCR punches so far above its weight in terms of sport, music and academics. There is a niche available to everyone and all are encouraged to pursue their talents equipped with world-class facilities and resources. To echo Marcelline Cody in an address she made to my class and our parents in one of our formative weeks, we entered Roscrea as boys and left as men.

To me and to so many others, CCR was so much more than a school. Imagining that in a few short months laughter and shouts might be absent from the building and playing fields is genuinely terrifying. Thinking of the fact that I might have been one of the last young men lucky enough to receive a Cistercian education is a cause for a harrowing rawness. This does not have to be. The deafening silence caused by the astonishment and nature of the closure announcement was rapidly eclipsed by the roar of past pupils.

We all went through so much together – an experience that only a boarding school could allow. They are the first people I would turn to in tough times, the ones I would rely on above all else. They are my brothers and regardless of the distances between or the length of time since our last encounter, a clatter of Roscrea lads at a match, a twenty first, or in the future at weddings will always pick up right where they left off. I am so fortunate to have met each and every one of my classmates and seeing their contributions to society as we take different paths is an honour and an inspiration.

 As a twelve year old, I entered Roscrea on that August evening, possibly as one of the shyest young people in the country grabbing hold of my mother without release and staying attached for at all times. To think of where I have come in such a short space of time is simply remarkable. The numerous opportunities provided to me in CCR as well as the unique atmosphere of the special place I had the privilege to call my home were the decisive factors in my development to my current person.

 Something with a heartbeat cannot be declared dead. In recent years, the numbers in Roscrea may have declined but the life of the halls, the craic in the dorms and the achievements academically, sportingly and musically have thrived. To let CCR come to such an untimely end this May would be nothing short of a crime. The recent announcement has caused the heart of Roscrea to beat stronger than ever as all past pupils and friends of the college have united as one. It has shown to me and to so many others that Roscrea can’t close and that Roscrea won’t close.