The Sisters of Mercy were founded in Dublin in December 1831 by Catherine McAuley. The first house of the Order was on Baggot Street, the purchase of which was funded by an inheritance which Catherine received from her adopted parents. It is from Baggot Street, through Carlow, Westport, Sligo and Enniskillen, that the lineage of the Castleblayney Convent can be traced.
Today, the Congregation of the Sisters of Mercy is a worldwide congregation, following in the footsteps of their founder, caring for the poor, the sick and those in need of education.
The community of Sisters of Mercy in Castleblayney traces its origin to Monday 25 September 1905 when five Sisters arrived in the town from Enniskillen, on the invitation of the Parish Priest, Canon James Meegan. Canon Meegan’s predecessor, Canon John Hoey, who died in July 1895, had bequeathed a considerable sum of money for a convent and this enabled the PP to purchase Dr Gilmore’s house on Laurel Hill, formerly the site of a thriving brewery, and thus began a story that continues to the present day.
||"It is a special favour of God to be…teachers, destined to train up little ones in His knowledge and love" (Catherine McAuley)
Education has always been the fore in the work of the Sisters of Mercy in Castleblayney. Within weeks of their arrival they were conducting classes in Higher Education in the stables attached to their new Convent. In 1910 the foundation stone was laid for the present Convent building and the Girls' School, which they had taken over two years earlier. By the 1920s a Secondary School, Mean Scoil Mhuire na Trócaire, was in operation in a two-roomed building behind the Convent. In 1962 a new Secondary School was built and this merged with a Boys' Secondary school in 1971 under the title of Our Lady’s Secondary School.
In addition, the Sisters of Mercy in Castleblayney were in charge of the new County Home when it was opened in the town in 1926, a service they continued to render until the early years of the 21st century.
A Praying Community:
Prayer is always the centre of the lives of the Sisters and of everything they do. As Catherine McAuley put it:
||"Prayer is a plant, the seed of which is sown in the heart of every Christian. If it is well cultivated and nourished it will produce abundant fruit, but if it is neglected it will wither and die."
One of the rooms in the Convent had been used as an Oratory but by the 1940s plans were drawn up for the erection of a Chapel, the foundation stone of which was laid on the Feast of the Birthday of Our Lady, 8 September, 1949 by Bishop Eugene O Callaghan. One of the features of the Convent Chapel is the fine collection of stained glass windows from the renowned Harry Clarke Studios in Dublin. At the time of the building of the chapel the Crescent housing scheme was underway and the Chapel was designed in such a way as to facilitate the new residents in the locality.
Since their arrival in 1905 the Sisters of Mercy have played an important role in the life of the Parish of Muckno. In addition to their crucial role in education and healthcare and their service to the poor, they have helped build the faith of our people through the celebration of the various liturgies that are part of the everyday life of the parish. Whether it be in terms of music, pre-Sacramental teams, pastoral planning or community and social development, the Sisters have been a vital part of the ongoing development of our parish and continue to fulfill that role, in keeping with the spirit of their founder.
||“Every place (and time) has its own particular ideas and feelings, which must be yielded to when possible.” (Catherine McAuley)
Today there are more than 9,000 Sisters of Mercy in over almost fifty countries around the world. Although adapting to changed and changing circumstances, their mission of making Christ known to all through their works of mercy is as relevant as ever.
To contact: the Sisters of Mercy in Castleblayney call +353 (0)42-9740069 or email:
For more information of the Sisters of Mercy visit www.sistersofmercy.ie
||Prayer of Catherine McAuley:
I am yours
For time and eternity
Teach me to cast myself entirely
Into the arms of
Your loving providence
With the most lively, unlimited
Confidence in your
Compassionate, tender pity.
O most merciful redeemer
That whatever you ordain or permit
May be acceptable to me.
Take from my heart
All painful anxiety;
Suffer nothing to sadden me but sin,
Nothing to delight me
But the hope of coming
To the possession of you
My God and my all,
In your everlasting kingdom.