By Ann Marie Foley - 27 December, 2017
“In one way it was a sad moment, but it was a very life giving moment, that it has been taken over by such a dynamic group.”
A convent school which educated thousands over a 200 year period has been given a new lease of life after lying empty for more than eight years.
The Brigidine Sisters have gifted in trust their former convent and boarding school premises to the local community in Co Laois. Past pupils including broadcaster Clare Byrne were present at the launch of what is to become the new Community Hub in Mountrath.
Sr Mary Sheehy was present to cut the ribbon on behalf of the Brigidine Sisters. “There are a number of activities planned with societies and clubs, training courses, cultural and sporting activities among them, and it will a include men’s shed and country market,” Sr Mary Sheehy told Catholicireland.net. “It is a very comprehensive project. We are delighted that they have taken it over we wish them every success and blessing in this venture. It is a marvellous dynamic hard working committee.”
The Sisters moved into a house in the community some time ago and the Brigidine, Patrician, and Vocational schools amalgamated into the new Mountrath Community School in 2009. The building has remained empty since then.
The four remaining Sisters work in the parish and SVP, and they have got involved in the hew hermitage and centre, Solas Bhride in nearby Kildare. However, it is the end of an era for the Brigidines who have been synonymous with education in Mountrath.
Speaking at the opening of the new hub Sr Mary Sheehy said, “In one way it was a sad moment, but it was a very life giving moment, that it has been taken over by such a dynamic group. We are very happy with the decision, but yes there was a certain amount of sadness but I think the hope would outweigh the sadness. We began here in Mountrath in 1809 so we are in that school for over 200 years.”
Just before Christmas the people of Mountrath turned out to enjoy a Christmas Market and activities after Sr Mary Sheehy, on behalf of the Brigidines, handed over a ceremonial key to the Mountrath Community Forum. Present were the local Councillor Jimmy Kelly, Fr Joe Brophy CC Mountrath Parish, and Forum Chairman Martin Meade, with committee members.
Forum Secretary Geraldine Moore, spoke of the contribution that the Brigidines made to the town over the last 200 years. She thanked them for their gift and what she called their greatest leap of faith.
Bishop Daniel Delaney set up the Mountrath Brigidine Community in 1809. The previous year he set up the Patricians who moved out of Ballyfin in recent years and their premises were turned into a luxury hotel.