140 years of service to the community
(Account taken from Annals of the Convent)
Fr. Patrick Hickey, Parish Priest of Doon, Co. Limerick prior to his death in 1864 bequeathed his property for the establishment of a convent in Doon after his death. He was familiar with the Convent of Mercy in Kinsale, Co. Cork where his niece, Sr. Augustine Hickey had already entered. Rev. Mother Ligouri O'Dwyer was the Reverend Mother in Kinsale at that time, and she and her assistant Mother Francis Bridgeman visited Archbishop Leahy, the then Archbishop of Cashel & Emly, to obtain his approval for the new Foundation. They also visited the site allocated to them in Doon and found it to be suitable. Sr. Augustine Hickey, who had been .assigned to an earlier foundation from Kinsale in Derby in England, was recalled to become the Superior in Doon. The other three sisters of the Foundation were Sr. Teresa Fallon, Sr. DePazzi Kilroe and Sr. Brigid Fitzgerald. On February 6th 1865 the sisters left for Doon, accompanied by Mother Ligouri, and Sr. M. Magdalen of Derby. Having stayed overnight at the Mercy Convent in Charleville the sisters then proceeded by train to the Limerick Junction, where "outside cars" were there to transport them the rest of the way to Doon village. The parish priest, then Fr. William Wall, and his curate Rev. John O'Brien, and some villagers were out to welcome them.
Rev. Fr. Hickey, P.P. Doon.
The Sisters' residence was situated at the top of the one street, to the south of the road leading to Cappawhite. It consisted of a two-storey dwelling with hallway and two rooms downstairs, and three rooms upstairs. Its door opened onto the street front and there was another door at the rear opening onto the grounds. "Oh the house! writes Sr. Teresa Fallen, it had been for some months occupied by Fr. Mickey's successor and as it was only temporary - keeping it aired for the nuns, the servants did not seem to have disputed with any of its tenants...feather beds and looking glasses, carpets and cobwebs.....odours of mice and of must dust to no end". To add to the confusion the Sisters requisites, bedding etc., which had been sent on beforehand to the Railway Station in Pallasgreen, had not been collected, so the Sisters had to make do with what they found in the house.
"A house is not a convent without the Blessed Sacrament. This was the Sisters immediate concern but alas their Tabernacle was in the 'trunk' in Pallas station. The good Canon Wall came to their rescue and said he would leave the Blessed Sacrament if it could be secured under lock and key. Fortunately the Sisters had with them their Mass requisites, including the Chalice and case which could be padlocked.. Thus at 9pm that evening when all was in readiness the King of Heaven took up His abode. Doon Convent of Mercy was at last a reality".
The Convent Annals go on to tell us "Doon was then a small village consisting of about 1,500 inhabitants who were for the most part very poor owing to having been rack-rented by hard landlords. In their poverty they were very tempted to abandon their faith by Presbyters as they were called the "Cait Breaic", who offered to allay their hunger by giving them food as well as clothing if they abandoned the true faith, but most of them did not give into the temptation". Religious Instruction and Visitation of the Sick were the main works carried out by the first Mercy Sisters. In 1867 Archbishop Leahy visited the Sisters and gave permission for the building of a school. A bazaar was held in the Convent grounds to defray the expenses in June 1868. Beginning with six sisters the number had doubled within two years and there were 23 Sisters in the Community when the Foundress, Mother Augustine Hickey died in 1877. The first postulant to enter was Jane Greene from Glengar, Boon and that was the 2ist of February 1865, just a few weeks after the foundation. As the number of Sisters grew, at the request of local priests, foundations were started in the local villages of Cappamore and Newport, and later the Archbishop of Cashel asked for Sisters to go to the Hospital of the Assumption in Thurles. U.S. then called for Sisters and in the late 5o's a group of sisters left for Sacramento in California. In the 70ís we were asked to join with the other Mercy Convents in the diocese, Tipperary, Templemore and New Inn so we were then known as the "Cashel Mercies". In 1994 the Mercy Sisters in Ireland were divided into Provinces, and Doon now belongs to the South Central Province, which is made up of 121 convents and the area covers Dublin to Kilkee. So from the small group of sisters that started in Doon 140 years ago it certainly has grown.
Courtesy of Sr. Cecelia English
Building of 1st section of Convent.