What Future?

The pictures above suggest this might be the entrance to an Irish country house, built in the mid-19th century when the fashion for a loose interpretation of Tudor Gothic was at its height here. In fact, it is the centre block of the former Convent of Mercy in Ardee, County Louth. Built in the mid-1850s, the convent was designed by John Neville, then County Surveyor for Louth (a position he held for 46 years, thereby ensuring plenty of work for his office in the area). The three-storey block built of coursed rubble features cut limestone for quoins, and window surrounds as well as for the three-bay, single-storey porch in Perpendicular style. And the facade is saved from what might be dull uniformity by the two-storey canted bay to the immediate right of the entrance. Further buildings, including a chapel, were added to left and right of the convent. As in so many other towns, the nuns have now departed and the ten-acre site has been on the market since last autumn. What might its future be?

8 comments on “What Future?

  1. The bauld Larry from Ardee might buy and it to add to his growing medical investments ( Galway Clinic, Blackrock etc. A step down nursing home perhaps? Only joking of course, but it would make a fine country gentlemans shooting lodge!

  2. Vincent Delany says:

    Would make a lovely hotel

  3. Deborah Sena says:

    I weigh in against a hotel.- first it depends on the interiors, over the top Victorian (those gorgeous patterned tile floors in the entry hall maybe?) worth experiencing or convent austere with small rooms? Second, Louth is not big on the usual tourist routes to draw the guests. Ireland has several examples of ‘build it and they will come’- NOT. Third there are already enough of these house converted hotels that are struggling, particularly trying to attract the upscale tourist.

  4. Patrick Davies says:

    Its glorious interior included furniture such as bookshelves which may have been part of the original design. I have a photograph of my aunt sitting in the library there in around 2000. My aunt was a nun there for her entire adult life, dying the day after her 99th birthday in 2013, so she probably lived in that Convent for half the existence of the building! She is buried in the graveyard within the grounds.

  5. Pádraig says:

    The Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest purchased it recently for 925,000 Euro, in part from local donations, and borrowings, and it is to be used for their order of nuns the Sisters Adorers of the Royal Heart of Jesus. I think it a good thing that this fine structure will return to its intended used. It already has resident caretakers which should mostly protect it from scrappers and other trespassers. A lot more similar disused convents (eg in Baltinglass) are beyond help, so this has to be good news.



    • Thank you for this update: I do so hope it is good news and that the order respects the integrity of the building and its architecture…

      • Pádraig says:

        Their efforts on the Sacred Heart church, Limerick, a former Jesuit church which was on course to become a gym (some resemblance for it is a worship of the body but most things would’ve been lost), before the crash intervened, should allay fears. There are now, as circumstances and funds permit, using the original contractor to restore the paint scheme of the interior, which was lost as more straitened times saw elaborate paintwork overpainted by simpler, lower maintenance schemes. They’ve had it now for a little short of a decade. They are a traditional minded order, so the crass refurbs of diocesan churches and other sites, is not likely. Anyhow, we can be thankful it didn’t fall to a developer who’d sit on it for 20 years until it’d fall down and allow apartments to be built, or maybe nothing.


Leave a Reply