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Former Irish rugby international takes the helm at famous Cistercian-run school

By Sean Ryan - 23 July, 2017

Pic: Garry Halpin and Cistercian College Roscrea (CCR)

A Cistercian-run post-primary school which almost closed last February is to appoint a former Irish Rugby International as its new Head of Boarding.

Cistercian College Roscrea (CCR) has appointed former Irish rugby international prop and hammer throwing champion Gary Halpin (51) as the new Head of Boarding at the college.

Mr Halpin is a highly experienced educator, having spent 16 years in management positions in top schools in the UK. He has been appointed to this key role to be part of the Cistercian College Roscrea Leadership Team and he will lead the Pastoral Care Management strategy at the College.

Mr Halpin is better known for his role as an Irish rugby and athletics international in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Educated at the Holy Ghost-run Rockwell College near Cahir, where he won four Irish schools rugby caps, he travelled to the US on an athletics scholarship, where he won the American Indoor Collegiate Championship in the hammer before going on to represent Ireland in the 1987 World Athletics Championships.

Upon returning to Ireland in 1989 he played rugby with Wanderers FC, making his full international debut twelve months later when lining out as tight head prop against England at Twickenham. He played for Ireland from 1990 to 1995, winning eleven caps and scoring one try, after making his debut in January 1990 against England in a 23–0 defeat.

He was part of the Ireland squad at the 1991 Rugby World Cup and the 1995 Rugby World Cup. He has taught for a number of years and has been Head of House at St David’s House in Christ College Brecon, a boarding school with 400 pupils in Wales.

Commenting on the appointment, the chairman of the Board of Management at CCR Ronnie Culliton said “I am delighted to welcome Gary as our new Head of boarding. In Gary we believe we have appointed someone with exemplary educational and sports experience, as well as a leader and person of the highest calibre. We look forward to having him and his family join us later this year to build on our work to further develop CCR as an outstanding option for parents and pupils looking for a high quality education across seven day, five day and day boarding options.”

Referring to his new position, Mr Halpin said he looks forward to joining the school. “I’d like to thank Ronnie and the Board of Management in Cistercian College Roscrea for appointing me to the Head of Boarding role. As a former Rockwell College student, my association with CCR dates back to the mid-80s. In particular, the annual Rugby games and the Triangular Sports Athletics fixture evokes a cascade of fond memories. Not surprisingly, I look forward to getting involved in Sport at CCR.”

He added: “I’m looking forward to working with the Board, the Management team, the Staff, the Parents, the Pupils, the Monastic Community and all key stakeholders involved in the tremendous work done with the school in recent times. Having worked as a Housemaster for 17 years, I am confident this experience will guide me as I embark on my new role and I feel privileged to be given the opportunity of guiding the boarding community at CCR in these exciting times of new development.”

Last February it was announced that the Cistercian College Roscrea was to close after 112 years. However, a new boarding school model and a financial rescue plan meant that the college will remain open. The prestigious school is the alma mater of former Taoiseach Brian Cowen, former Tánaiste Dick Spring and former Foreign Affairs Minister David Andrews.

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