Sisters of Mercy Convent, Doon, Co Limerick
The Order of Mercy Sisters arrived in the village of Doon, a few miles from the Limerick-Tipperary border, from Kinsale on February 7th, 1865 to help in the transformation of the parish, which had been devastated by the Great Famine.
In one six-month period, records show that over 300 parishioners died; between 1847 and 1853 the number of houses in the parish decreased from 982 to 375.
Fr. Patrick Hickey, Parish Priest of Doon from 1824 – 1864, left his farm and house to the Sisters of Mercy – his niece was leader of the group that came to Doon.
The Sisters soon started educating local children by holding Sunday classes in their garden. They opened their first school in 1868 and a decade later provided boarding facilities for students who lived too away to commute daily.
Over the decades, extensive new buildings were completed and the Sisters established one of the largest primary and second level education centres in Munster. Up to 800 students attended the school staffed by 50 Sisters at its peak.
The Christian Brothers also came to Doon to provide education for boys. A recent Radharc programme on Rté described Doon as “the parish with the most vocations in Ireland” to the religious life, with 28 priests and 115 nuns from a population of 1,700 at one stage.
This article first appeared in the Farming Independent on 28th February, 2020 and was written by Martin Ryan. Photograph by Liam Burke