Bridget Visits House of Mercy in Ireland
When Year 8 student Bridget Lowry came to Santa Maria College in Year 5, her teacher Mrs Sharp talked a lot about Mercy House in Dublin, the home of Catherine McAuley. It was somewhere that Mrs Sharp always wanted to visit. Bridget’s family visited Ireland each year to see family, so they planned to visit the Mercy House the next time they went.
Bridget explained it took a while for that to happen. “Little did we know this wouldn’t happen for three and half years due to COVID-19.” The family finally made the trip this year. “My Granny and her sisters all attended a Mercy school in Ireland, which made me more curious to see the house myself. Also, Catherine McAuley is such an inspirational woman, and it was really great to finally see the place where she lived.” Bridget said.
Below, Bridget tells us about her trip.
What were your impressions of seeing Catherine McAuley’s home?
I found it really fascinating that I was in a house that Catherine herself used to live in. The house had been done up a bit; however, Catherine’s room was more or less the same as when she lived there. In fact, the lady taking the tour said that the floor and furniture were from when Catherine lived there. This was really interesting to me as I got to walk on the same floor that Catherine herself had stood on. The house was also in fantastic shape and was surrounded by colourful stained-glass windows.
What are some of the things you learned there?
I learned that Catherine McAuley didn’t want her portrait paintings to stay after she had died, so they burned all the paintings of Catherine. All the images we have today are memories of the nuns, those who knew her, and what people pictured Catherine McAuley to look like. I also learned that Anne-Marie Doyle was related to William Shakespeare. As well as that, on the tour, we saw a massive bell. The bell had two ropes hanging down, one red and one black. The black rope was rung twice and used to wake the nuns up and get them ready for prayers, while the red rope was used for emergencies such as fire or if someone was very sick so that the neighbours would come and help.
What was the best thing about being at the House of Mercy?
I really loved the gardens in the back of the Mercy house. I loved the statue they had of Catherine McAuley, where you could sit down on a bench next to the statue and look at Catherine. This statue seemed quite real, and it was as though you were sitting with Catherine herself. The direction of her head meant that she was looking at you, and this was really lovely. The garden also had the place where Catherine was buried. That looked amazing. It really showed how much Catherine was loved and appreciated.
Bridget also shared some interesting facts she learned on the tour.
The first was that Catherine’s adoptive father, William Callaghan, was planning on leaving his money to his two nephews and Catherine. This was until, on his sickbed, he overheard his nephews talking about cutting Catherine out after he died. This changed William’s mind, and he decided to leave everything to Catherine, which amounted to 3 million euros in today’s money and 6 million Australian dollars.
The second piece of information was that in 1994 the Mercy International Centre opened. Sisters of Mercy from all over the world attended the opening. Each one brought a water vessel which they used to create a ‘Wellspring of Mercy’ by mingling the waters from around the world. It was interesting and easy to find which water vessel was from Australia. It featured a gum leaf.
Thank you for sharing this special trip with us, Bridget!