Cuan Mhuire Receives The Key Of Downpatrick Convent
In the mid nineteenth century Fr. Bernard McAuley a priest in Downpatrick had a dream of restoring a community of nuns to the historic town of Down, which had a tradition of religious and monastic life reaching back to the 13th Century. It was not until 1855 that the Sisters of Mercy took up residence in the town.
The Sisters continued the works of Mercy throughout the years right until the present day. Indeed 163 years of service in Education and Care to all in need. Two Sisters remain in community in the town. Early in 2018 the Sisters became aware that Sr. Consilio of Cuan Mhuire Trust was looking for premises in the Downpatrick area to extend her provision for those coping with addictions. A decision was made to give the building to this cause.
It was therefore with great joy that on the occasion of the handover Mass was celebrated in the convent chapel by Fr. Maurice Henry C.C. Sr. Ann Brady, Provincial Leader of the Sisters of Mercy Northern Province formally handed over the keys of the convent to Sr. Sheila Cronin Manager and Mr Noel Griffin representing the Cuan Mhuire Trust.
Left to Right: Sr. Frances McCashin, Sr. Vianney McVeigh, Margaret Campbell and Mary De Largy
Sr. Ann Brady’s Speech:
It is wonderful to have so many neighbours and friends gathered on this unique occasion. We welcome the Sisters of Mercy who lived in this Convent, Sisters from the Northern Province, relatives of deceased Sisters, many people associated with life in the Mercy Convent Downpatrick. We welcome people of this parish, co-workers, past pupils and all of you who have come to worship, give thanks and celebrate here this morning.
We are delighted to be joined by so many friends of Cuan Mhuire and members of The Board who over the past few weeks have worked so hard to prepare for our Mass and Gathering on this historic occasion.
We, as Sisters of Mercy, and as Trustees of this property, are very happy that today, we will transfer the keys of the Convent to Cuan Mhuire. I have learned recently that Cuan Mhuire Treatment Centres throughout Ireland bear the title of ‘Cuan Mhuire’ (The Harbour of Mary) while each of the residential houses available to guests who have finished their programme in Cuan Mhuire are known as a Teach Mhuire.
How fitting it is that this Convent of Mercy here in Downpatrick that has always been a Teach Mhuire, will continue under the mantle of Mary our Mother, to serve as a place of friendship, compassion, prayer and support.
Sr. Ann presents the key to Sr. Sheila, the manager of Cuan Mhuire alongside Noel Griffin and Sr. Vianney McVeigh
As we hand on the key of this house let me tell you about this little basket in which the key is held. It was customary in our Convents that the Sisters in turn would take responsibility for ringing the Angelus Bell at 6.00 a.m. and opening the doors of the Convent. So for generations, at an early hour each morning, this basket containing the keys was carried from door to door in the Convent. When all the internal doors had been opened this key (pictured below) was placed in the front door. I invite Sr. Sheila, on behalf of Sr. Consilio, together with Noel representing the Cuan Mhuire Board to come forward to receive the Key.
Sr. Consilio Fitzgerald
Thanks from Noel Griffin, Vice Chair, Board of Directors, Cuan Mhuire, Newry
I wish to thank Father Maurice for the celebration of Mass and his very relevant homily. To the men from other houses – Tipperary, Athy, Ballybay and Newry for their tremendous work in getting the building and Chapel cleaned, painted and ready for today.
Also to Tom Gibney for all his help and kindness. George from Ballybay for the catering – he is renowned for his beautiful buns, cakes etc. To the Choir, of whom I am very proud, thank you for your presence here today.
Last but no means least a huge thank you to Sister Ann and the Sisters of Mercy for their wonderful gift of this convent and beautiful Chapel.
On behalf of Sister Consilio, the Directors, Residents, Volunteers and staff of Cuan Mhuire I again thank you for your wonderful gift. I assure all of you it will be treasured and put to good use.
Finally, you are all invited to tea and some of the delicious food prepared by George in Ballybay. Please come along and enjoy the gathering.