Last three sisters look back on order's 150 years in town
THEY'VE been responsible for the education of generations but now only three remain.
The last remaining nuns that make up the Poor Clare Community in Kenmare today celebrate 150 years since the order came to the Co Kerry town.
When the Poor Clares celebrated their centenary in 1961, the president of the day, Eamon de Valera travelled to Kenmare to mark the occasion.
At the time there were 12 nuns in the community.
Only three now remain. Sr Assumpta Hegarty, Sr Catherine Brosnan and Sr Concepta Looney, who are all retired school teachers. Sr Frances McCarthy passed away recently, aged 96.
The first school set up by the nuns catered for both boys and girls but they also ran a type of "finishing school" for young women.
They also revived the tradition of the Kenmare Lace in their industrial school. A piece of Kenmare Lace is on exhibit in the National Museum and Queen Victoria also bought some to take home with her when she visited Kerry in 1911.
And after a weekend of celebrations to mark the 150th anniversary, which included the planting of a tree, a Mass celebrated by Bishop of Kerry Bill Murphy and a photograph exhibition in Pobalscoil Inbhear Sceine, Sr Assumpta is philosophical about the future.
There are fewer vocations but in Central America, the Poor Clares have a large number, she says. "Maybe the need now is not as great in Ireland but it is elsewhere," she says.