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Some members of the Kinsale comunity

On 19 April 1844, the convent in Kinsale was founded from Limerick. The foundress Mother Mary Ann Burke was accompanied by Mother Francis Bridgeman, (who had worked in the Crimea during the war), Srs. Xavier Daly and Mary Martha. By July of that same year, the foundation stones of schools and part of the convent were laid. On the opening day of the school 700 children enrolled with only 6 sisters to teach them. Along with catering for their educational needs, the sisters supplied food to the children twice daily.

The 1840s were a time of great hardship for most parts of Ireland and Kinsale was not any different. As well as providing education for the children, the sisters provided food and medical aid for those in the town in greatest need, and they served in the local workhouse. They also provided some employment in the town, establishing net-making rope making for the fishermen, and lace making and embroidery for the women. The lace making industry in Kinsale later gained world renown.

While the convent has recently closed the sisters still live in Kinsale and some continue to work in education as well as in pastoral and parish work.


On 13 October 1845, Elizabeth Moore, the Reverend Mother of Limerick Convent of Mercy, along with seven sisters, set out to establish a foundation in Mallow. The house to which they arrived was cold, dark and wet having been washed down that day in preparation for their arrival. No food or firewood had been provided, based on the notion by the townspeople that "Nuns did not require such earthly commodities!"

The home to which this pioneer group came was a rented house beside the Parish Church. In later years it became the Mallow Branch of the National Bank, now the Mallow Credit Union. From this convent the sisters began visiting the sick and they also started teaching in the Parish School. The school was situated in the present Chapel Lane and close on seven hundred pupils attended.

During the famine year of 1846-'47 the famine fever was particularly severe and the sisters were kept busy day and night caring for those affected. A young novice Mary Xavier Creagh, who had been a most constant companion in the night watching, fell ill and her symptoms soon indicated it was the dreaded fever. She died on 25 June 1847 and she is buried in the graveyard beside the churchyard.


In 1848 the purchase of lands and the building of a convent was made possible by the generosity of Miss Gould, whose vast fortune had been vested in Trustees for some religious purpose in the then Diocese of Cloyne and Ross. Miss Gould, herself later joined the Presentation sisters in Youghal, Co. Cork. In 1850 the sisters moved from Bank Place to Bathview.

In 1851 an orphanage was opened, which cared for orphans and children from broken and emotionally disturbed homes, until its recent closure.

The National school was built about this time also and the tradition of teaching in the building continues up to the present. The secondary school was opened in 1932 with further buildings added during the 1950s and 1960s.

The sisters continue their involvement in Mallow today.


Dolores Brophy

Dolores Brophy with one of her pupils at the primary school in Mallow

On hearing about the presence and activities of the Sisters of Mercy in Killarney, the people of Tralee expressed a wish to have them also. Their request was granted by the then Bishop of Kerry, Bishop Moriarty.

On 14 July 1854 four sisters arrived from Killarney - Mother Elizabeth Riordan, Mother DeSales Bridgeman and two others whose names were not recorded. A house was provided for them by the Jeffers family and was furnished by the people of the town.

The sisters had many supporters and among them was a John Mulchinock who purchased land for the building of a convent. Both he and his nephew contributed to the building of the convent and both are buried in the Chantry in the Convent Chapel. The convent was blessed on the feast of St. John the Baptist on 24 June 1856.

Balloonagh Convent Church

Balloonagh Convent Church

A House of Mercy was opened in Strand Street on the 27 November 1854, which provided day accommodation for young women at risk. They received support and instruction and were taught needlework and other crafts, which enabled them to earn some money. Part of the convent was used for children at risk until Nazareth house - a childcare unit was built with funds also from William Mulchinock. A house was built in Godfrey Place for those who could not afford to attend the Pension school, which was open for the children of parents who could pay. At that time workhouses existed all over Ireland and the sisters visited the one in Mallow. They also visited the goal three times weekly. To respond to the many hungry of the area, a Soup Kitchen was opened in 1855.

The sisters are still involved in teaching, nursing and catering in various ways for those who are needy in the area.


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