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Monday 16 December 2019

Planning row breaks out over nuns' bid to rehouse sisters

The Sisters of Mercy house In Ballyloughane, Renmore, Galway. Picture: Hany Marzouk
The Sisters of Mercy house In Ballyloughane, Renmore, Galway. Picture: Hany Marzouk

Caroline Crawford

AN UNHOLY row is brewing over plans for a new convent to accommodate returning missionaries in Galway city.

The Sisters of Mercy had received planning permission to demolish the existing single-storey convent at Renmore and replace it with a new two-storey building.

The nuns said they required the additional accommodation for up to 20 nuns who were returning from missions in Africa, South America and the US. Galway city planners had granted permission under a number of stipulations.

In their applications the nuns pointed out that six sisters were living in rented accommodation awaiting additional convent space, with six more waiting to move to Galway due to other house closures and a further seven set to return from overseas in the next two to three years.

"Currently, there are 530 sisters in the Western Province and our numbers are being sustained/supplemented by sisters returning from the missions in Africa, South America and the United States. Of this 530, there are 170 sisters in Galway and while the provision of new accommodation over the last five years has contributed to addressing the accommodation shortage, there are still a considerable number of sisters in unsuitable and rented accommodation," the nuns said.


However, residents are up in arms at the decision to give the development the go-ahead and have appealed it to An Bord Pleanala.

They claim the new convent would overshadow their properties and say that their primary objection is the increase from a one-storey to a two-storey building.

One objector questioned why the nuns now required individual apartments when "a convent almost invariably refers to a community of nuns living 'together'".

It also requested that the Sisters of Mercy declare any other lands in Galway which may be suitable for development.

An objection was also received from the Renmore Residents Association that the development would cause further traffic congestion.

They have now brought their objection to An Bord Pleanala.

The development would consist of six one-bedroom apartments and two visitors' bedrooms, along with on-site car parking, bin storage, and landscaping as well as widening and realignment of the existing entrance gate.

A decision is expected to be made by An Bord Pleanala by August.

Irish Independent

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