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Carlow County - Ireland Genealogical Projects (IGP TM)

The Poor Clare Convent


(Previously published in ''The Parish of KILLESHIN, Graiguecullen'. by P.MacSuibhne. 1972.)

Poor Clare Convent Graiguecullen
Poor Clare Convent Graiguecullen

Poor Clare Convent
The Poor Clare's Abbey Graiguecullen

During 1893 Carlow-Graigue had the great privilege of being chosen to be, as it were, a candlestick on which was to be set the little candle of Franciscan Poverty that would be a light to the women of Ireland. The Lady Poverty made her abode among the poor of Graigue so that rich and poor alike might be won by her sweet comeliness. On the 26 of April in that year, feast of Our Lady of Good Counsel, arrived from Levenshulme, Manchester, England., the first little band of Poor Clares, five in all, with a Kilkenny woman, Mother Mary Seraphine Bowe, as their superioress.

They rented as their convent a tiny house (now Foley’s Library) on the Bridge of the Barrow at Carlow-Graigue.  Lovers of Poverty, in Poverty they came: the chief item of their luggage being a small wooden grille made by the Mother Foundress herself. St. Joseph was made their procurator; in him was their trust; and he did not fail them. Each year during his month of March came the amount necessary to pay their rent. Providence sent them several friends, generous souls, who undertook to provide for the simple needs of the Sisters. One of these, a poor ex-soldier, saw to it that they never wanted coal during the harsh winter months.

Think of that little company in their frail house over the waters of Carlow. The wind whistles around and through their dwelling, the rain sometimes penetrates the roof. Boats come and go on the river beneath, and their pilots espy, perchance, the little red lamp that tells its tale of devotion. Think of them and you think of one small house at Nazareth and of all the small houses throughout the history of the Church that were destined to cradle great movements. Privileged little house of Carlow-Graigue that was to be the cradle in Ireland of so holy an Order!

In 1900 (chiefly through the kindness of Mr. McCann and Mr. Michael Governey) a field was obtained nearby and a new convent was built. Everything necessary was procured and the Sitters rejoiced to find themselves enclosed in a convent where observance could be perfect.

In 1903 they had the further consolation of having Perpetual Adoration established in their convent. Since then they have kept constant vigil before Our Lord in the Holy Sacrament making up by their devotion for our negligence.

They celebrated in 1920 the Silver Jubilee of their coming to Ireland and the Golden Jubilee of their Mother Foundress. Mother Seraphine could at that date look around her and count in Ireland three houses of her Order and forty-five members. Thus had the five little plants of St. Francis that first took root at Carlow-Graigue been multiplied; and since 1920 they have been multiplied even more.

1929 Entrance Day for a Girl in a Poor Clares Monastery somewhere else (it would have been most likely like this in Manila too) -taken from Graigcullen-Killeshin Archive
Source of photo & info:

Mother Seraphine may truly be described in the words of Sacred Scripture as a “valiant woman,” a pioneer who faced bravely and overcame many obstacles and many objections which prudence itself seemed to suggest. Yet even if there were some who were opposed to the idea of a purely contemplative community of nuns in Graigue there were many others who supported and befriended Mother Seraphine’s project. The aged Bishop Lynch, his young successor, Bishop Foley, as well as the venerable pastor Fr. Daniel Byrne were ever solicitous for the welfare of the little flock. In Fr. Arthur Murphy, C.C., the young community found a sympathetic, consoling and encouraging spiritual guide and helper. Mr. and Mrs. Michael Governey of Carlow, Count Moore of Tipperary, and Mr. McCann of Dublin, were unsparing in their generosity.

A cherished wish of Mother Seraphine’s was that Graigue should have a new church and that it should be attached to the convent. For this she was constant in prayer, energetic in begging. And it was perhaps in response to her prayer - the prayer that moves mountains - that the Protestant church of St. Anne was brought across the river and erected in Graigue as the Catholic Church of St. Clare. Mother Seraphine had the consolation of knowing that its foundation stone was laid beside the convent just a fortnight before her happy and holy death. Mother Seraphine died on 21 June 1928.

Website: The Poor Clares of Carlow

Poor Clare Convent.

Nationalist and Leinster Times.

January 1924.

The Mother Abbess and Community of the Poor Clare Colettines, Graiguecullen know that their existence in Ireland today (and the other convents founded hence in Dublin and Cork ) is owing under God's Providence, to the princely generosity of the late Michael Governey.

Source: M. Purcell & PPP.


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