Save Clondalkin Convent Campaign want answers

by Padraig Conlon

The group campaigning to save the historic convent site in Clondalkin say they want answers.

They want to know if the convent, its surrounding lands and parish church passed into the ownership of the nuns, then how, when, why and under what circumstances did this happen?

They also want to know why neither church authorities nor the nuns will meet them to discuss this.

These are just some of the reasons why The Save Clondalkin Convent campaign are holding a second rally around the village this Sunday, January 12, starting at 1pm from the Civic Offices opposite the Garda Station in Clondalkin.

Even though planning permission was obtained in November for a joint development proposal by the Presentation Sisters and Bartra the group say the campaign “continues as before”.

Monica McGill, a spokesperson for the group, says they are calling on the local community for help.

“We have a big fight ahead and the campaign needs to raise more funds to pay for legal fees if we have to go to court,” she told Dublin Gazette.

“We have received resounding, on-going support from the wider community and similar cross-party support from our County Councillors and TDs.

“We have been willing to share with the Presentation Sisters and the church authorities our alternative, practical suggestions to address people’s needs in a more fitting way than the Sisters’ present proposal.

“To date, neither the Presentation Sisters nor any of the Church authorities or their representatives have agreed to meet us to discuss matters.”

The Save Clondalkin Convent campaign says the development will obstruct the 162-year-old convent while also wiping out a scenic green space and a children’s playground which is attached to the nearby primary school, Scoil Mhuire.

Bartra are developing the project in conjunction with the Presentation Sisters order, who claim they own the site.

Planning files show that ownership of the lands would be transferred to Bartra if the development is successful.

“Local people ask if our Convent, its surrounding lands and parish church are not on the Archdiocese list of properties and if they passed into the ownership of the nuns, then how, when, why and under what circumstances did this happen?” Monica McGill said.

“Supporters of Save Clondalkin Convent Campaign carried out a lot of research and we could not locate any documentation or evidence contra-indicating our assertion that the convent and lands are held in trust for the benefit of the children and the poor of the community.

“We scrutinised more than a dozen local and national archives.

“We found relevant Memoranda of Deeds and Miss Anne Frances Caldbeck’s will which was probated by a court of law after her death in 1844.

“It is a legal document.

“We have had all the documents officially copied and certified by the authorities.

“We wrote many times to the local nuns and their Provincial Leader, asking for a meeting but without any meaningful response.

“We showed our initial certified Memoranda of Deeds to the Parish Priest and gave him accurate transcripts.

“We had respectfully requested a meeting, but there was likewise no response to our request.

“We gathered over 3,000 signatures from local people in two petitions and delivered copies to the Archbishop’s House and the office of the nuns’ Provincial Leader.

“The hierarchy of the church need to answer this question.

“When did the ownership of the village Church change hands to become the sole property of Presentation Sisters Union – North East Ireland?

“We may have to go to court in order to get the answers as they refuse to answer this very simple question.

“Judging by the local people’s feedback over Christmas and during the campaign, they whole-heartedly support our goals, yet neither the church authorities nor the nuns seem willing to even meet the people of Clondalkin whose ancestors and present generation supported them so generously since 1857 when the Presentation Sisters came to our village.”

Dublin Gazette contacted the Archdiocese Of Dublin for a comment on this story.

A spokesperson said there have been “no developments over Christmas.”

We also contacted the Presentation Sisters but had not received a reply by the time of going to press.

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