300 years presence of Dominican Women in Dublin

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A message in stone. (Part 3)

Although, today, there is no sign of the convent in Channel Row [later renamed N. Brunswick St] its location is easily identified. Situated north of the river Liffey from Arran Quay, is “Smithfield”. Continuing north into Red Cow Lane, one arrives in N Brunswick St, facing a modern apartment block. If stones could speak, what might they reveal?

The previous building on the current site was part of the Richmond hospital. Before that it, had been a convent. After demolition of the hospital in 1988, the convent’s foundation stone was found. The Latin initials and date “SNPB 1689” confirm the convent’s history: founded for Benedictine nuns, by King James II, who was allegedly present at the dedication. The short-lived hope of a brighter future under James II, was soon shattered by his defeat at the Boyne, after which the Benedictines returned to their convent of origin in Ypres. Thereafter, the Poor Clare nuns inhabited the convent for a short while. Finally, it became the home of the Dominican nuns from 1717 until 1808 when the landlord would not renew the lease. The nuns previously had the chapel roof repaired, so the landlord’s decision was unexpected, and a test of faith. Perhaps subsequent events provide an explanation: the building was sold to become an extension to the Richmond hospital!
Details of life in Channel Row from 1717–1808 will be described in part 4.


From Sr. Maris Stella McKeown, Archivist, Mission Area of Ireland


For more details, see this website link WHO WE ARE, with Drop down menu –HISTORY and BOOKS.
The drop down menu in WHAT WE DO provides insights into how and where the seed, planted in Dublin in 1717, has grown and sprouted other branches in the following three centuries.

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  1. Simon Smith

    Greetings to the fine community at Cabra, from a friend, in Sydney!
    I literally just stumbled on this beautifully written fragment of the history of your order, and the Benedictine Convent near Arran Quay, and your ancient city, this moment. It is the night of April 25th here, and I realise it was probably a year ago this week, that I visited Dublin, to mark the Easter Uprising, and to pay tribute to a spirited forebear of mine: Sister Mary Magdalene O’Farrell. Sister Maris Stella- you were the most wonderful joyous font of knowledge, in the true spirit of Dominican women before you.
    The community made me so welcome, and gave me lodging for the night of April 20th, so I could be included in the Census for Ireland. I was proud to be counted as part of the community at St Mary’s, a source of solace and inspiration for Sister Mary Magdalene, all those years ago.
    Dia bless tú go léir!