Monks part with piece of history as 200-acre farm goes on market
IT is an iconic private school which has been the developing ground for some of the most prominent figures in Irish society.
But as the realities of a modern Ireland take hold, the monks behind the Cistercian College in Roscrea are to pull back on their operations.
They have decided to sell a 200- acre farm from their land in the south Offaly region, the same area where the historical school is situated.
The school, where parents pay €11,350 a year to send their boys to board, has educated figures such as Brian Cowen and former Tanaiste Dick Spring.
Yesterday it emerged that the monks, who have owned some 800 acres of land surrounding the school since 1925, are to sell off the 'Annaville' area, with a guide price of €2.3m.
Described as "a farm of historical and spiritual significance", it is to be put up for sale by public auction next month.
The decision has been a difficult one. However, like religious orders around the country, they are faced with a massive drop in the number of people who are joining them.
Annaville -- which was known to the monks as 'Bulfins' -- had a special place in the monks' hearts, said monastery spokesman and author Dom Laurence Walsh.
"In the heyday of the community, 40 or 50 monks would walk there in single file carrying their forks, and in one round, turn a whole field of hay, or stook a field of oats, all in silence," he said. "It is with great regret that, after 86 years, the monks have decided to put it up for sale."
There is a period gate lodge at the main entrance to the farm which dates from 1865 but is in need of renovation.
The farm also includes a traditional walled garden, housing for over 400 animals, fodder storage and animal handling facilities in the townland of Ballykilleen on the southern tip of Co Offaly.