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Mercy International Centre: Hospitality at its best in a place of pilgrimage and renewal

Mercy International Centre: Hospitality at its best in a place of pilgrimage and renewal

BY GNAGB . 25 Jun, 2019

The convent guesthouse in Lower Baggot Street, Dublin is ideally located for exploring the city and is a central base for day excursions into the countryside. It is a short walk to Stephen’s Green and Grafton Street and to the heart of Dublin city.

In the 18th century, Lower Baggot Street was called Gallows Road, owing to the number of hangings which took place. Lower Baggot Street, or the former Gallows Road leads to St Stephen’s Green which was once called Gallows Green because of the number of criminals put to death for their crimes on the ‘hanging tree’.

In 1873, the hangings were moved to Newgate Prison. Some metres underground flows the Gallows Stream (River), which has now been built over.

During this period, the Congregation of the Sisters of Mercy, a Catholic Religious Women’s Congregation was founded on Lower Baggot Street by Catherine McAuley, who was born in Dublin in 1778.  At the age of 25, Catherine accepted the position of live-in companion to William and Catherin Callaghan, a wealthy retired couple. When the couple passed away, Catherine was the benefactor of a substantial inheritance.

In 1824, and with the money she inherited, Catherine chose to purchase a property located on the corner of Baggot and Herbert Streets, in southeast Dublin. A large house was eventually constructed on the site.

The house of mercy was used for various kinds of religious, educational, and social services - focusing especially on the poor and needy. It was from these humble beginnings that the Congregation of the Sisters of Mercy grew.

In 1831, the house in Baggot Street became the first Convent of Mercy. Today, Catherine’s house is a center of hospitality and a place of pilgrimage and renewal. The building is a heritage center with precious memorabilia belonging to its founder on display. Catherine died in the house in 1841 and was granted the title of ‘Venerable’ by Pope John Paul II, in 1990. The next step is sainthood.

The Mercy Sisters who occupy the house in Lower Baggot Street have a number of cosy rooms available for overnight guests.  Guided tours of the property are conducted for visitors at 10 am each weekday (by appointment).

Each tour concludes with tea and scones in the sister’s dining room. In 2011 the sisters instigated the International Good Cup of Tea Event to celebrate the life and legacy of Catherine McCauley and to raise funds for the ongoing work of the Mercy International Association.

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