Disappointment as Save the Convent campaign unsuccessful

By Maurice Garvey

DISAPOINTMENT and sadness was the main reaction from residents involved in the Save Clondalkin Convent Campaign – who discovered on Tuesday, May 4, that their long campaign to protect the historical site in Clondalkin Village was unsuccessful.

Plans by Bartra Property Ltd for a 155-bed nursing home and retirement home for the Presentation nuns on land at the convent grounds, were upheld in late 2019 by An Bord Pleanála, despite significant opposition from residents, community groups and local politicians.

Convent Cldk Tues morning 1

A 155-bed nursing home and retirement home will go ahead on the grounds of the convent in Clondalkin Village

“Unfortunately, we were not successful in persuading the authorities of the Church, the Presentation Sisters or the State that our heritage building and playing field for school-children should be sufficiently protected for future generations,” said Monica McGill, a member of Save Clondalkin Convent Campaign.

Through their own research, the group maintain that following the death of educational pioneer and patron Anne Francis Caldbeck in 1844, her will declared the Archbishop of Dublin and his successors, to be one of the trustees of the convent and the lands.

During the course of the campaign, the group raised funds to pursue legal action, and used Freedom of Information (FOI) requests, to try and figure out how the Presentation Sisters came to be the sole owners of the land.

“In 2018 the nuns applied to be the sole trustees and then they applied to sell it,” said Eddie Murphy, also a member of Save Clondalkin Convent Campaign.

“This is despite the fact that it is based on the will of Anne Francis Caldbeck, which we have a copy of. We believe any proceeds of this site should be for educational purposes for the children of Clondalkin.”

Campaign members told The Echo they feel let down by the nuns, the church, the Archdiocese of Dublin, and above all, the Charities Regulator.

“The nuns said they would give back the church and the car-park, but it is not theirs to give back,” said Mr Murphy.

“I asked the nuns how they got it and was the parish priest involved but got no answer. How they came to this decision is beyond us. The development is going to change irrevocably the centre of the village.

“We are not against development and agree that the convent is not fit-for-purpose and the nuns are getting old, but there is plenty of other things they could have done. Other locations beside the parish house could hold a nursing home.

“The whole reason the church was set up was so the nuns wouldn’t have to pay a curate. My own great-grandfather used to make shoes for the nuns for free, I’m sorry he did that now!

"Residents have campaigned long and hard for places like this for 20 years but we shouldn’t have to.

"It appears the council don’t care for the heritage and history of the village.”

On Tuesday, there was confirmation on localgov.ie that Bartra can commence works for the new four storey nursing home and assisted living building on Convent Road.

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