By Cian Molloy - 17 May, 2019
“We are sorry to be closing this very special place but are glad that the sale will mean our Sisters in Ireland and abroad will be able to continue and expand the worthwhile work they are doing,” said superior general Sr Mary Christian.
The Religious Sisters of Charity have put the Stella Maris retreat centre in Howth on the market. The 7.3 acre site overlooking Dublin Bay has a guide price of €3.5m.
The order says the sale will go towards funding its charitable work in Ireland and its missionary work abroad, especially the order’s work with people who are affected by human trafficking, with communities affected by climate change and in the promotion of education.
The decision to sell the retreat centre and nearby convent was taken reluctantly, says the congregation’s superior general, Sr Mary Christian. “Stella Maris Retreat Centre has been our home and a retreat centre where we have welcomed thousands of people for more than 125 years. Due to the inability of our ageing congregation to continue our retreat work, a decline in numbers attending and the need to spend a great deal of money to modernise what is a Victorian 19th century building, we have decided to sell and use the proceeds of the sale to go towards some of the charitable work our Congregation carries out at home and abroad.”
The property, situated above the sea cliffs south of the Bailey Lighthouse, is located in Gleann na bhFéine, supposedly a campsite of Fionn and the Fíanna. Among the rocks at the base of the cliffs is a bathing place known locally as ‘the Nun’s Beach’ for obvious reasons.
The property was given to the Sisters of Charity in 1893 by its previous owner, Mrs John O’Hagan, on condition that the Blessed Sacrament would always be kept there. The order added a chapel to the property in 1929.
The Religious Sisters of Charity were founded in Dublin in 1815 by Mary Aikenhead. At present, the order is active in Ireland, England, Scotland, Nigeria, Zambia, Malawi, California and Australia. Members of the order take a fourth vow, promising to be of ‘service to the poor’.
In recent years Stella Maris has offered Monday morning mindfulness courses, relaxing sounds meditation, reflective energising days, three-day retreats, six-day guided retreats and eight-day directed retreats, but all that activity is to come to an end when the property is sold.
“We are sorry to be closing this very special place but are glad that the sale will mean our Sisters in Ireland and abroad will be able to continue and expand the worthwhile work they are doing,” said Sr Christian. “Our Sisters are involved in a wide range of support services in their local communities including caring for those who are sick and those nearing the end of life. Our Sisters are active in education with both children and adults, as well as focusing on helping those who are homeless. This sale will enable us to continue that important work whilst also supporting the care of our sick and elderly Sisters.”
The property can be viewed at: https://www.lisney.com/commercial-properties/development-land-property-in-stella-maris-convent-and-retreat-house-295-ha-73-acres-carrickbrack-road-howth-dublin-13/25915.