Our History

Foundation of Carmelite Nuns in Loughrea, Co Galway

St Joseph's Monastery Gardens, Loughrea, Co. Galway
The gardens at St Joseph’s Monastery, Loughrea, Co. Galway, IRELAND

Shortly before Cromwell came to Ireland in 1649, it is recorded on a map of Galway made in 1650 and published by Hardiman that the Sisters convent was situated at the south end of the town of Loughrea in Back Street, so that it was close to the residence of the Father’s in Cross Street, who doubtless acted as the nuns chaplains.

However the arrival of Cromwell changed everything, as the nuns must have had to disperse like so many others. In any case, no further mention is made of them until the 1680’s. The Carmelite Fathers must also have dispersed but it appears they were once again settled in the 1680’s. Father Henry Hogan, writing at Loughrea in 1744 says that Fr. James Bricklane, (who died about 1686) “received three nuns from Galway for this town of Loughrea”. The Foundress was a Miss Eleanor Burke, whose ancestors had founded the Carmelite Abbey, Loughrea in the 1300’s and also many other monasteries in Ireland. She was one of the de Burgo’s of Clonroak, one of the leading branches of the Clanricarde family

Miss Eleanor Burke was a most holy soul and had often expressed to the Carmelite Fathers her ardent desire to become a Carmelite nun and had urged them to make a foundation in Loughrea, for which she offered a house, which was situated in the town, near St. Bridget’s well. Very Rev. Fr. James of St. Dimpna (Bricklane), Vicar-Provincial in Ireland, seeing her great piety, approved of the holy undertaking as an inspiration from God and received three nuns from Galway for the Foundation in Loughrea. Their names were Mother Teresa Lynch, Mother Mary Lynch and Mother Magdalene Lynch, who were natives of Galway and most fervent religious. They were probably sisters, as well as relatives of Eleanor Burke, who was the first to take the habit and received the name of Sr. Mary Teresa of St. Dominic.

This attempt to get a community established in Loughrea was unsuccessful and it did not really come into existence until 1690 (or 1691). Further details of the Foundation of Loughrea are unknown, as unfortunately, during the Penal times the principal papers and registers of the Convent were lost or destroyed. The document regarding the canonical erection of the Convent is particularly to be regretted, the absence of which was substituted by a Brief of his Holiness, Pope Leo X111 on the 1st of May 1892. The names of some nuns in the early years are also missing. The next profession on record after Mother Teresa Bourke and the three nuns already mentioned is Honoria Madden of Co. Galway, who was called in religion, Mother Mary Teresa of St. Joseph. She was professed in 1692 and having lived 64 years in religion, died a holy death in1755. Although many professions took place in the interval, there is no mention of any other being professed until the year 1720. The little community did not last long, for it was suppressed at the great Banishment of 1698 and the nuns had to disperse themselves among their relatives, until times would brighten. Then came the reign of Queen Anne (1702-1714), accompanied by the ferocious acts of Anne against the catholics, as Edmund Burke called them.

In what year the Carmelite sisters reformed their community is unknown, but at least it was not later than 1717. They did not go back to the town itself, but went to some place outside and remained there for several years. Even in those days of persecution there were plenty of valiant women, anxious to enter religious life and soon a little community gathered around Mother Teresa Bourke. As the Penal Laws were then in force, they were not permitted to wear the religious dress, which was substituted by a plain black dress. Regular observance was maintained by the community and they observed their Holy Rule as far as was compatible with the disturbed times

The perfection, which Mother Teresa Bourke aimed at establishing in each of these convents –even in those Penal times- may be inferred from a letter, addressed to her from Mother Anne of Jesus, Prioress of the Carmelite nuns of Bordeaux, France. This letter is dated May 12th 1726 and was a reply to various questions Mother Teresa asked regarding the Constitutions, religious dress and also inviting her over to Ireland but which Mother Anne refused as she could not wear her religious habit in this country. A copy of this letter is preserved in our archives. [It is known that Rev. Fr. Bricklane was ordained in Bordeaux] Although we are ignorant of the names of the nuns that were professed, yet it is evident that the little community must have considerably increased to have had a sufficient number of nuns to send out three foundations, which were made by Mother Teresa Bourke, during an abatement of the persecution from the year 1724 to 1728 to Limerick, Cork and Dublin. Due to the disturbed state of the times, the Foundations in Limerick and Cork were not destined to survive. In Dublin the foundation was so successful that from it sprang all the other Carmelite monasteries in Ireland.

In the first years of the establishment of this monastery, the nuns suffered many difficulties and privations. Their poverty was so extreme as would shake the courage of less heroic souls. They bore their trials with fortitude and many wonderful things are related of God’s special providence over this community, not only at its foundation, but in every critical event to the present day, which may be regarded as a presage of the sanctity of the nuns who were to enter there, many of whom were especially favoured by God, among whom may be reckoned Mother Teresa Bourke and her first three companions, who were accounted remarkably fervent religious

Death of the Foundress   Mother Teresa Lynch, died about the year 1726 and Mother Mary Lynch about 1728 in Loughrea and were buried at the Abbey.

Mother Magdalen Lynch died in Limerick about 1729 and was buried there.

Mother Mary Teresa Bourke died in Loughrea on the 13th of January 1730 and was buried at the Abbey. As the nuns had no burial ground attached to their convent, they were interred in the old ruin of the Abbey, beside the Dolphins’ monument. Mother Mary of St. Joseph, (Cecily Mc Hugo) became Prioress in1730 succeeding Mother Teresa Bourke.

The storm of persecution which was still raging in Ireland did not spare this poor secluded community at Loughrea. Information was given that they were “nuns” living in concealment and the officials were ordered to seize the supposed criminals and to search their house. The nuns, who were warned by a friend of the danger, fled during the night and took refuge in the houses of their friends. Mother Prioress,[Mary of St. Joseph, Mc Hugo] suddenly remembered that she had left some important papers after her and which she would not risk losing, dressed herself like a beggar-woman and stole back to the convent and secured her papers. As she was returning with them, concealed in her apron, she met the officials on the staircase, so placing her whole trust in the protection of God in that critical moment, she made a curtsy to them, so like a beggar that they took her for a servant and passed her by unsuspected. It was about 10p.m. at night when they searched the convent and they went so far as to put their swords through the nun’s beds, to discover if any were concealed there. The papers that they found were of little importance.

The report of the supposed convent was brought before the magistrates, a friend having pleaded the cause of the nuns, declared they were only a few poor ladies, who chose to live together and maintained themselves by their needlework. His remonstrance was listened to and the nuns were allowed to return to their convent, but for many years afterwards the utmost caution and secrecy had to be observed.

The Convent being small and inconvenient, the public desired to build a larger and more suitable one for them in the centre of the town, towards which they largely contributed. The site for the new Convent was selected in Main Street, (then called High Street). The building being completed, the community moved to their new Convent in 1755. Mother Brigid Mary of St. Joseph (Daly) was then Prioress and in that same year, Mother Mary Teresa of St. Joseph (Madden) died, who was professed in 1692. The house bore no external mark of a Convent. Their chapel was literally an  “upper chamber”, hidden at the top of the house. Religious, not being yet tolerated, they were obliged to wear a plain, black dress. In order to conceal from the authorities that there were nuns living there, the lower story of the front of the house was arranged as a shop, and a milliner rented it for many years. She carried on her business there, while in the rooms above, the nuns went through their various religious duties, unknown to the world outside.  Their poverty was so extreme that sometimes they had no food, but God, who tenderly watched over His faithful Spouses, many times supplied their wants in most extraordinary ways. At one time, the Mother Prioress told the community to pray while she went out to beg for them, but she returned without obtaining any alms. On seeing her poor Sisters faint with hunger, desired them to pray still more fervently and once more ventured out on her weary errand. A stranger, whom she had never seen before, came up to her and silently placed a gold piece in her hand. The nuns believed this unknown benefactor to be none other than their Glorious Father St. Joseph.

Removal of the Nuns from Main Street to Barrack Street in 1825.  The Nuns did so at the advice of our very Rev. Fr. Provincial, as the Main Street had then become a more public part of the town. This house belonged to Mr. Hardiman and is now occupied by the Sisters of Mercy. The community remained only six years in Barrack Street. It was while they were in that house that the nuns were again permitted to wear their holy habit, which for so many years they were obliged to lay aside. While there, many fervent novices were received. The convent in Barrack Street did not afford sufficient accommodation for the discharge of their religious duties and the situation being unsuitable for cloistered nuns, the community were long contemplating the building of a new convent, but had not the means of doing so. However, Divine Providence removed all these difficulties

The site for the new monastery was selected in view of the Abbey and about 200 yards from it – the foundation stone being laid in June 1829 by Mother Teresa Madden. The Prior of the Abbey, Rev. Fr. Myles Gannon, O.D.C, who had a good knowledge of architecture, drew up the plans for the new Monastery and Church. Rev. Fr. Gannon paid special attention to having the walls solidly built and the rooms a proper height. The quarry on the land, at the foot of the Hill, supplied stones for the building. The building was finished in the year 1831 and the nuns came here then. The new monastery was called St. Joseph’s, mount Carmel. The Chapel remained unfinished until 1832 and in 1834 the Most Rev. Dr. Coen, Bishop of Clonfert consecrated it and it was one of the few chapels in Ireland then consecrated. It was dedicated to Our Lady of Mount Carmel. The Most Rev Dr. Derry consecrated the Cemetery at the north end of the garden on The 12th of August 1848. The nuns who died in Loughrea before the community moved to our present Monastery are buried in the old ruin of the Abbey and the known names are inscribed on a tombstone there. The enclosure wall cost £300. The rocks where the Carmelite Fathers offered the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass during the Penal times adjoin the enclosure wall at the south end of the garden at the cemetery side. Anyone who gave information on them received £5 as a reward. In December 1978, we purchased this piece of ground containing the “Mass-Rock”. It is simply a ledge of rock, down in a hollow but a poignant reminder of the value our ancestors set on the privilege of having Holy Mass offered.

SCHOOLS The days of persecution were now past but the country, just then was almost destitute of Catholic schools. The Holy See, in its anxiety to provide for this deficiency, encouraged the contemplative Orders to devote themselves to the education of youth and dispensed with all the rules that were incompatible with this work of charity. Most Rev. Dr. Coen, Bishop of the Diocese, also asked this community to instruct the poor, there being no other religious in the town to educate them. The nuns opened a national school for girls in February 1832, – they also opened a select Day school and a boarding school for young ladies, which were carried on with great success. But as soon as a religious community of the Order of our Lady of Mercy had settled in the town and their schools fully established, there was no further necessity for continuing our schools. The community expressed the desire to give them up, as being contrary to the spirit of the Order and incompatible with the spirit of our holy rule, which they wished to observe in all its perfection.

Having obtained the consent and full approbation of the Rev. Fr. Provincial, (Angelus Fogarty) and also of the Most Rev. Dr. Derry, Bishop of the Diocese, Mother Mary Teresa, animated with a holy zeal and courage, closed the boarding school in 1857 and she next closed the day school and on the 2nd of July 1861 they ceased conducting the National school and handed over the children to the fostering care of the  Sisters of Mercy. This courageous Prioress completed the task by putting up the grates and turns with all haste, despite much opposition from the townspeople and even the Bishop, who was greatly opposed to the grates but afterwards gave his consent. Mother Teresa engaged the workmen to be there at 4 o’clock in the morning so that the work could be completed by 6a.m. the same morning. Thus the schools were closed and the reform established.

Relic of St. Amantius, martyr.

The holy body of St. Amantius, martyr, which was found with a phial of blood was given with the consent and command of Pope Gregory XV1, out of the cemetery Callistus, on the 18th of March 1841 to the Most Rev. Dr. Coen, as a gift to the Discalced Carmelite nuns, Loughrea, to be kept with great reverence in the chapel. Our entire Chapel and choir were renovated from September 1980 to May 1981, to be in accord with the directives of Vatican 11. At that time, the body of St. Amantius was placed within the new altar, together with several other relics of saints. The chapel was solemnly blessed by His Lordship, Bishop J. Cassidy and dedicated to the Holy Family on the 2nd of May 1981. The feast of St. Amantius is kept on the 10th of February. In recent years, we say the Office in his honour.

Perpetual Lamp Associations.

In 1872, two perpetual Lamp Associations were established in this monastery and they are still flourishing. One is in honour of St. Joseph, mainly for the suppression of intemperance and the good of family life. The other is in honour of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the Immaculate Heart of Mary and St. Joseph, for the release of the souls in Purgatory. Eight Holy Masses are offered every month for the members of these Associations, both living and deceased, and they share in the daily prayers of our community.

Confraternity of the Holy Infancy of Jesus.

On the 25th of March 1891, the confraternity of the Holy Infancy of Jesus was established in our chapel, with the approbation of the Most Rev. Dr. Duggan, Bishop of Clonfert and of Very Rev. Fr. Provincial, (Fr. Aloysius Corbett) and the unanimous votes of the community. It was first affiliated to the Arch-Confraternity of Beaune in France and later, all proper permissions received, it was changed to the Divine Infant Jesus of Prague, 11th of January 1970. A meeting for the members of the Confraternity takes place on the 25th of each month and the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is also offered on the 25th of each month for the members, living and deceased. We celebrated the centenary in a spirit of gratitude to those gone before us and who had bequeathed to us this devotion and in the hope that we too will pass it on to posterity, mindful of all the blessings received through the Holy Infancy of Jesus. Souvenir cards, with picture of the holy Child statue in our Chapel, with prayer to the Divine child Jesus were printed and circulated to mark the Centenary.

The Cairo Project. Carmel of the Holy Family in exile, Mataria, Cairo, Egypt.

On the 21st of April 1959, the Very Rev. Fr. Michael Moylon, O.D.C., Apostolic Visitor, came to our monastery and speaking for our Very Rev. Fr. General Anastasius, spoke to us about the Cairo project; the only Carmel in Egypt and in danger of being closed down for lack of personnel. Then he asked for volunteers. He interviewed those who wished to speak to him about the proposition. Mother Mary Carmel Beatty and the community made a novena to the Holy Spirit and at its conclusion, three Sisters were chosen from those who had volunteered to go;

  • Mother Mary Joseph Bleaden, appointed as Prioress
  • Mary Veronica Cusack.
  • Mary Agnes Flanagan.

Very Rev. Fr. Gabriel Barry, Provincial, gave his approval and encouragement. They departed on the 29th of September 1959. Our Very Rev. Fr. General expressed his thanks and appreciation for the generous response to his appeal and sent his blessing to the community. Those three Sisters are still in the Carmel in Egypt, joined since by two more Irish Sisters.

As the years went by, their monastery was more and more surrounded by high-rise flats, looking on to the enclosure and more and more noise, so the sisters longed to change location to some place more suited to the contemplative, enclosed life. They prayed and searched for some years, investigating various possibilities but nothing seemed really right until a large farmhouse with land became available in Fayoum, about sixty miles from Cairo. After a thorough inspection and all the necessary negotiations and inevitable setbacks, the deal was finally made and in 1996 they moved into their new monastery. It still required a lot of work and the sisters, with God’s never-failing help did a beautiful job and now they have, not only a lovely Monastery, Church and Choir, but they also successfully converted some stables into a self catering retreat house to cater for the many busloads of people  who come from time to time. This has been a big blessing for them as their Carmel continues to thrive with local vocations and good hopes for the future.

 Glenvale Carmel, Newry, Co. Down.

In November 1978, Very Rev. Fr. Provincial (Jerome Lantry) approached Mother Prioress, (Sr. Marie-Therese Milroy) requesting that she and the community would accede to his wish to allow Sr. Mary John of the Cross (Carey) to transfer to Glenvale Carmel for three years, as this Carmel, the only one in Northern Ireland, was in dire need of personnel. The Chapter vote was in favour, so Sister left here for Newry on the 14th of January 1979. Two other Irish Carmels also sent Sisters to help out. In March of the same year, Sr. Mary John was elected Prioress there. When the triennium was coming to an end, the Provincial, Rev. Fr. Finian Monahan, asked the three helping Sisters if they would be willing to remain for a further three years. All three agreed. Sr. Mary John was re-elected Prioress at the elections in 1982. In 1985, sister returned once again to her own community in Loughrea.

Ter-Centenary Celebrations.  –  1680 – 1980.

The year 1980 was the 300th Birthday of our foundation so Mother Prioress, (Sr. Marie Therese Milroy) was fired with a holy zeal that this important event be celebrated in a manner worthy of the great spirit of sanctity which enabled our predecessors to hand on to us, the Carmelite observance in all its purity and splendour. All through the year 1980, we read extracts from the Book on our deceased Sisters so that a strong communion of spirit was fostered. August 24th – 21st became a week of celebrations in thanksgiving for the protective graces which kept our Carmel intact through so many years. During that memorable week the sisters listened to a Triduum of lectures by Rev. Fr. Finian Monahan, O.D.C. (ex Superior General) on the new Legislation (Declarations) just given to us at that time by the Church, ad experimentum. Rev. Fr. Patrick Peyton conducted a rosary rally in front of the monastery to help promote family prayer in our diocese. We also planned to have the Holy Mass celebrated at the nearby Mass Rock, to emphasize the great value of the Mass at all times, but the rain prevented us. So, as a compromise, the Mass of the holy Family was celebrated in our Chapel to an immense crowd, too numerous for the chapel to contain. Many people received the holy Eucharist on that day. Rev. Fr. Finian Monahan was the chief concelebrant.

Finally on Sunday, August 31st, we had a very special Mass of thanksgiving for 300 years of hidden but fruitful Carmelite apostolate. Our Bishop Joseph Cassidy presided over this open air Mass in front of our monastery: concelebrating were Rev. Fr. Provincial, (Michael Buckley), Rev. Fr. Finian (ex-General), many of our Carmelite brethren and all the priests of the diocese had been invited to join us. The local Mercy Sisters took charge of the singing. It was an occasion of great grace and as we thus showed our gratitude to God for all His care over 300 years, He filled us with so much joy and grace and happiness that we knew the invisible throng of Angels and saints and holy deceased Sisters and Brothers must have been far greater than the many people we could see.

Our Prayers are for all.

Our life of prayer necessarily includes the prayer of intercession. So we remember in a special way all our relatives, friends and benefactors, our Holy Order, our Superiors, especially Our Holy Father the Pope, our Bishop and all who bear authority from God. We pray for every member of Holy Church and we pray always with the Church whose Head is Christ Jesus. However, sometimes Divine Providence so arranges matters that certain people or groups are put before us for special attention in our prayers. So it is that:

a) An association and union of prayer and good works were formed with the Cistercian Order, Mount Mellarey on the 15th of July 1875.

b) A document nominating our community as co-operators of Opus Dei was signed in Rome on March 19th, 1974.

c) We have agreed to become co-workers, through prayer, with one particular community of Mother Teresa of Calcutta’s Missionaries of Charity. They reside in Essen in East Germany and write to us at least once a year. In this way, we become worthy to serve our fellow men and women, who live and die in poverty and hunger and by our understanding love give them peace and joy, as instruments of Christ’s own peace.

Blessed are they who die in the Lord.

So many of our Sisters, from the time of our Holy Foundress and her companions, lived such holy and heroic lives, it would be difficult for us to decide which were the most outstanding ones. A renowned Jesuit Father once referred to them as “the Saints” and our cemetery as “A reliquary of Saints”.

Visit to Ireland of Pope John Paul11.

We should mention the visit of the first Pope ever to set foot in Ireland –John Paul 11, September 29th ——October 1st, 1979. We were permitted television for the occasion, so in this way he visited our Carmel, as we followed him spellbound for three historic days. It was indeed a national grace and as we followed closely his every move, the power, the love and the grace of Christ’s Vicar on earth was diffused, filling our Carmel with a holy joy. So too we recall the many Papal blessings for Jubilees and special occasions that have been transmitted to this monastery, sanctifying the members and even the place itself, so that like the psalmist we say: “ Your servants love her very stones”.

Renovation Work.

At a canonical Visitation, our community was strongly advised to undertake a full professional examination of our monastery as it was already more than 150 years old. This was advised, in the interests of making it secure for the future, also as a preventative in case of any trouble developing unseen. Some time later, such an examen was duly and thoroughly carried out. It was noted that the wall structure of the monastery was particularly good, but there were many things, which could be improved, and most of all; a complete new roof was advisable. So after much thought and reflection on the matter, a community decision was made to undertake considerable renovation work on the monastery; a complete new roof, improved insulation, electrical and heating system renewed to give a better service, hot and cold water units installed in all the cells, some ceilings and floors remade and finally the entire monastery would be repainted, – a major work, surely.

The big question was, “ How could the nuns remain here and get all this done?” Our presence would make the entire work very difficult so another decision was made that all the nuns would disperse among the Irish carmels. It must be recorded that the Irish carmels surpassed themselves in their generous and hospitable accommodating of us at that time and for which we shall be eternally grateful. Two Sisters, Mother Philomena (Kilcommins) and Sr. Bernard (Dempsey) opted to remain here while the work would be in progress. This was advisable, according to our architect, Mr. Cyril Bowman, and as they had the courage and the will to do so, it was agreed upon. In about three months the work was fully complete, when we all returned to spend Christmas 1991 in our renovated and beloved monastery. All this involved a big expense, but once again God provided through the many, many benefactors who helped us so generously and we can only pray with deep gratitude, “ God reward them, each and every one”.

Zing Carmel, Nigeria.

In the 1990’s, an Irish Carmelite nun from New Ross, Co. Wexford conceived the idea of founding a Carmelite monastery in Africa. Vocations in Ireland and Western Europe were coming to an all-time low and the news was that there were plenty of vocations in Africa but not enough Carmels to cater for them. So Sr. Mary Brigid courageously followed this inspiration and asked for volunteers from all the Irish and English Carmels. One of our Sisters, Sr. Mary Teresa of Jesus (Keohane) felt moved to respond by offering herself for this mission. Initially we were saddened as our numbers were low and prospects were not promising, but we would not stand in her way if God wanted it. Sr. M. Teresa has now spent eleven years on this mission and despite some health problems, we are happy to have played a little part in helping to establish this thriving Carmel, now filled to overflowing with excellent native vocations. God’s ways are always good.

Blackrock Carmel closes.

In the year 1997, the Carmelite monastery in Blackrock closed, due to small numbers and no vocations. The sisters dispersed among the Irish carmels and to our great joy, three of the sisters opted to come to Mount Carmel, Loughrea. Sr. Mary Brendan was a blood sister of our Sr. M. Anthony Madden and both Sisters were in their 80’s. The other two sisters were, Sr. M. Carmel Delaney and Sr. M. Catharina Murphy. We were so thankful to God for this and perhaps the lord was preparing us for a further influx of three Carmelites, which would prove to be such a gift some years later, as we shall relate also.

Visit of the relics of St. Therese to Ireland.

In the year 2001, the relics of St. Therese came to Ireland from April to July. Not since the Pope’s visit in 1979 had we experienced anything like it. The whole of Ireland went on Pilgrimage, as more than three million people, from all walks of life, young and old came to venerate St Therese. The whole pilgrimage was very well organized, on a national level and all venues were well prepared before the precious relics would arrive in any particular place. We knew St. Therese was the greatest saint of modern times but the concrete reality of this came home to us as the people came in their thousands to every single venue. Many were sick and disabled physically in one way or another but they made their way to the places where she was to come and often waited many hours because they knew each in their own way, that she had come for them. She was both guest of honour and most gracious host and it was wonderful to see and witness this pilgrimage of grace.

For three wonderful days, January 11th – 13th, her relics were in Loughrea. She came to our Carmel on Tuesday and remained overnight in our chapel, which was open all night, to accommodate the many pilgrims and devotees who continued to come through the night or who remained with her until the next morning. The strict laws of Papal enclosure were suspended a little during these days as we too went on pilgrimage to the other two venues in Loughrea; the Carmelite Abbey for the ceremony of welcome, and St. Brendans Cathedral for the Farewell Mass. It was such a privilege to welcome her as our sister, while also reverencing the great Saint and Doctor of the Church she now is. She did not visit our cemetery, but no doubt, the nuns from our cemetery were among the pilgrims in our Chapel on that very special Tuesday, 12th June 2001.

Our Sisters from the Philippines.

The great Jubilee Year 2000 was over but vocations to our Carmel were scarcer than ever, and eight sisters had died since 1980.We needed new vocations but we knew that in Ireland and England, what had once been a steady flow had dwindled almost to a trickle. We prayed and reflected and talked about this among ourselves and many different ideas surfaced. Finally, Mother Elias Black decided to do something concrete before it was too late. We were aware that many Carmels were actually closing. With the full backing of the community, Mother Elias appealed to the Assoc. of Carmelite nuns in the Philippines for help i.e. to send us three or four fully professed Carmelite nuns, so that our Carmel would not have to close. After a lot of negotiations and indeed dogged persistence, our wish was granted and on August 6th, 2004, three lovely, fully professed Carmelite nuns from three different Carmels in the Philippines, walked into our monastery, to stay with us forever. It was an unforgettable experience as Srs. Mary Concepcion, Rose-Alice and Cynthia took their place among us, in the simplest possible way, adding smiling faces to this great gift of themselves. June 2005 and they are still with us which gives us real hope for the future. Meanwhile we hope to get many good Irish vocations. The God of surprises must be trusted if one is to experience the exceptional surprises only he can give.

The place where we live is Hallowed Ground.

It is indeed a privilege to be permitted to live in such a place as this where, in past years, so many of Christ’s followers came for the sole purpose of living holy lives, seeking indeed the perfection of the Christian life. From the beginning, the Living God has honoured us with his Presence on the Blessed Sacrament, where too the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is offered every day. On account of always being so close to our Carmelite brothers and priests at the Abbey, we have been blessed with O.D.C confessors and chaplains all down the years. Our dear friend, Fr. Bernard Cuffe, who must have broken most records, by residing for over fifty years there deserves a special mention for his especial fidelity to us, always solicitous that we are not lacking, either on the spiritual or material level. The Carmelite nuns of Loughrea have always had the great blessing and advantage of being governed by the Superiors of our order, bringing with it the very special blessings of so many Canonical Visitations. Despite the fact that some papers are lost, we record as follows: eleven visitations by Rev. Fr. General or his delegates between 1726 and 1934.

Twenty-three canonical visitations by our Rev. Fathers’. Provincial.

Several paternal visits from our Rev. Fathers General and Definitors, culminating, in a sense, in the year 1973 when one of our Irish Fathers was elected Superior General, Rev. Fr. Finian Monahan, a native of co. Galway. He has ever been a faithful and much appreciated visitor to all our Irish Carmels. All the above visits have been the occasions of special grace. May our lives of fidelity here be such as to add lustre to such a holy tradition and to this place where God is pleased to dwell.

Praised be Jesus Christ.