Inaugural Speech as President of the CCR Union from Fergal Keane
Immediate Union Past President – Liam Spooner
Previous Union Past Presidents – Too numerous to mention
Members of the Central Committee
Union Secretary – Katherine Donovan
Chair of the Board of Management – Ronnie Culliton
Fellow Past Men
I would like to start my Presidency of Cistercian College Roscrea Union by thanking and paying tribute to a few people. Firstly, to my predecessor – Liam Spooner who has continued to help and guide both the Union and I am sure the College through the difficult times that occurred in the last year, particularly in addressing the question of pupil numbers and encouraging the College in improving its facilities. Secondly, Michael McNamara in putting the question to me “would you be willing to accept the Presidency of the Union if asked”. I replied “are you serious” to which he replied “yes” and I replied “I would be honoured”. So Mickey Mac is to blame that I am here. Thirdly, the members of the Central Committee for electing me as President of Cistercian College Roscrea Union for 2018-19. I for my part never even considered that I would be thought of a suitable candidate for the office of President. I hope that I will do justice to the position. You do not know what you are getting yourselves in for. Time will tell.
I know the real reason why I was asked to be Union President. It was because of BREXIT. The Central Committee did not want the London Branch ceding from the Union and going it alone unlike the UK.
You may not be aware that I am not the first member of the London Branch to be asked to be President of the Union – that honour fell to retired Air Vice Marshall – Dr Manus Moran who unfortunately due to work commitments could not accept the honour. It is my privilege and honour to follow in his footsteps and become Union President. By the way I made a small diversion on my way here to visit Manus (who is in his 92nd year) and his wife Maureen. You will be pleased to know that they are both in good health. His long life must be down to the good food he received in the College. Both Manus and Maureen send their regards and best wishes to all.
We the past students of the College have a lot to be thankful for – firstly to our parents and here I want to give special thanks to my own parents – Patrick and Mary Keane for having the foresight to send us to such an establishment as this and being able to pay for our education. Secondly, to the College itself and its staff (both Lay and Religious) who gave us an education, and what an education – it was second to none, which makes us the people we are today. They also cemented in us the values initially derived from our parents. The beauty of this school is that no matter where you came from (rural or town or city) or whatever background, we were all treated the same. Long may it continue to be so.
We all know of someone who for whatever reason does not want to have anything to do with the College and hence the Union. The Union is not the College and the College is not the Union. I would like to ask everyone here who knows of some such person to try and get them to come to a Union function and try and reconnect with their classmates and other Past Men.
The Union President is expected to attend many Union functions. The only problem with that is that I live in the UK. I have to know what these functions are and the dates they take place on at least 2 months before they take place. The reason for this is that I have to plan my travel and accommodation arrangements in good time and also incorporate them into my work schedule. I would ask those arranging these functions to use the Union website through the website manager to publicise them. Those of you who have visited and attended the London Branch dinner may have heard me say – “my wife Marion says the only reason why you have so many meetings and functions is that you all need therapy for the time you spent in Roscrea” I am looking forward to attending as many therapy sessions as I can in the coming year, provided I am allowed to travel freely from the UK to Ireland and vice versa after 29 March 2019. I would urge all of you here to try and bring 1 extra past student to the function you are attending. Let us make this the best Union year ever.
As I mentioned at previous gatherings of the London Branch, we and the other Union Branches need new members. I would ask the College through the Director – Patrick O’Sullivan and Katherine Donovan – Secretary PPU to advise the boys on the importance of joining the Union through one of its Branches. I would urge the students to join their local Branch and if they move to give their old Branch their new details so that their details can be passed on to their new Branch. A Union Branch is not only there for social events but to provide advice and support to past students when and if they need it.
Let me finish by thanking the Board of Management under the chairmanship of Ronnie Culliton for the valiant work they are doing to increase the student numbers and to continue to upgrade the facilities in the College. I know that they have only to ask the Union for help if it is required.
Before we depart I would like to say an Irish Blessing
May the road rise before you,
May the wind be always at your back,
May the sun shine warmly upon your face,
And the rain fall gently upon your fields,
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of his hand.
Photo courtesy of Jim Keating