North American Branch Dinner
The annual North American Branch dinner takes place in New York on the Friday prior to Thanksgiving. This year’s date was Friday 16th November As in past years it took place at Delmonico’s Kitchen on West 36th Street.
A total of 6 Pastmen (including the Union President) were in attendance. Also attending the Dinner was Honorary CCR Past man Bill Fahey. The Branch Vice Chairman – Roger Healy was accompanied by his wife Cathy. He welcomed all attendees particularly the Union President, his wife and daughter and thanked them for attending the function. Roger advised that this was the 50th annual North American Branch Dinner. He apologised that the Branch Chairman – Des O’Brien could not attend due to other commitments. He advised that if anyone knows of Pastmen in the local area to make contact with the Union and the local Branch Committee. Up to date contact details are of prime importance. He went on to explain that due to the unexpected blizzard of the previous day a number of attendees travel arrangements had to be cancelled or aborted.
After a very fine meal all adjourned across the road to the Irish bar – The Pig and Whistle to reminisce about our days in CCR and discuss the hopeful outcome of the match taking pace later that day at the Arriva Stadium.
Photos courtesy of Fergal Keane
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Speech at the North American dinner given by Fergal Keane Union President
“New York Branch Vice Chairman – Roger Healy, Ladies, Guests and Fellow Pastmen
On behalf of my wife Marion and daughter Ann-Marie I want to thank Roger for inviting me as President of Cistercian College Roscrea PPU to attend the annual New York Branch dinner. Just to let you know it is my third function as President of the Union.
In my other capacity as the current Chairman of the London Branch I am very aware of what it entails to organise events. I congratulate the Committee for all their efforts and hard work in organising this function tonight and get people to attend. At the London dinner in order to increase the numbers of attendees we include our wives, partners and family members. On occasion we even include outsiders who become honorary Pastmen for the night just as you have done tonight.
This is our first visit to the Big Apple – the city that never sleeps and we are thoroughly enjoying being tourists and experiencing the ambience and sights of the city.
You may not be aware that I am the first overseas Past Student to be President of the Union. I for my part never even considered that I would be thought of a suitable candidate for the office of President – Miracles do happen, like on 34th Street. I hope that I will do justice to the position. The real reason must be because of BREXIT. The Central Committee did not want the London Branch ceding from the Union and going it alone unlike the UK.
On the weekend I became Union President I attended the Abbots Cup at Roscrea Golf Club and was heartened to hear from the Abbey Prior – Brother Malachy Thompson who informed us that he regards the College and Monastery as one campus – the College can’t exist without the Monastery and the Monastery can’t exist without the College. He expects the College to go from strength to strength now that the decision has been taken to save it. The College has recently appointed Gerard Grealish as College Principal which is a very positive move and shows that the College is in an upward move.
The College has 183 students on the roll for the current year. First year numbers this year are 38 up from 25 last year. In early October some 80 prospective students came to the College for a live in weekend experience. It bodes well for next September. Day boarding numbers have increased and they are fully integrated in College life. A Chaplain was appointed and is available to offer counselling to the students if required.
The College continues to excel in its education standards and exam results achieved. Some students achieved over 600 points despite being involved in extra-curricular activities. Several students received scholarships from their chosen 3rd level Colleges.
As you may be aware the College continues to have representation on both national and inter-provincial level in rugby – 5 on U19 Irish Schools, 4 on U19 Connacht Schools, 1 on U18 Leinster Schools, 2 on U18 Connacht Schools. 1 student was offered a contract with the Leinster Academy.
The hurlers were finalists in 3 competitions last year.
2 students competed in the recent world U14 Pony Championships in France.
Music continues to grow and excel in the College. This year’s Production is Les Miserables and the annual Carol Service takes place on Sunday 16th December at 4pm in the Abbey Church. I will be attending it for the first time.
The College also encourages the transition year students in their endeavours. One such student is Manus Heenan who started a company “Abbey Bread”, based on the recipe that the monks baked in the Monastery Bakery for over 100 years. The same bread we enjoyed so much (when it was fresh) when we were students at the College. He entered the National Student Enterprise Scheme and was awarded 1st place in the Senior category.
The reason why we are all here is I believe that we enjoyed the time we spent at CCR. We had good experiences. However we all know of someone who for whatever reason believe they did not have such a good experience and consequently do 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.
To finish can I ask all of you to stand and raise a toast to Cistercian College Roscrea PPU and particularly to our Alma Mater Cistercian College Roscrea.