The peace and prosperity in the twenty first century of the rural Archdiocese of Cashel and Emly belies the poverty and devastation which prevailed when the first Sisters of Mercy came to the diocese, to Templemore, Co Tipperary on 21st November, 1863. The Great Famine 1845 – 1849 had led to starvation, disease, death and emigration. Four Sisters came from St. Maries of the Isle, Cork, accompanied from Thurles railway station by Dr. Patrick Leahy 1857 – 1875, the Archbishop. Dr. Leahy was untiring in his efforts to procure education at all levels for Catholics and he welcomed teaching orders to the towns and villages. Mother M. Joseph Walsh was the superior of the group, with her were Srs. M. Regis Crean, Aquin McDonnell and Bernard Lawler. Parish Priest of Templemore, Dr. Thomas O’Connor bequeathed all his property to them on his death. On the occasion of the centenary of the convent 1963, the local paper ‘The Tipperary Star’ said, ’According to a tradition the convent was founded as a solution to Dr. O’Connor’s dilemma. He and his priests were unable to cope with the instruction of a large number of converts among the British garrison in the town who wished to marry local Catholic girls.’
Schools were established, including an orphanage, St. Augustines, and a boarding school. Two schools, St. Joseph’s Primary School and Our Lady of Mercy Secondary School continue to flourish to the present time. In January 1878 five Sisters established a branch house in Borrisoleigh, seven miles from Templemore, with the help of money bequeathed for it by Miss Fetherston, Cork, a sister of Rev. Mother M. Bernard Fetherson of Templemore convent. A community of Sisters still lives in the Convent at Templemore.