Welcome to Catherine’s House

Welcome to Catherine's House, the first house of Mercy built by Catherine McAuley in response to the needs of the poor of Dublin. It is home to the Mercy family from all over the world.

Welcome to Catherine’s House

Catherine's House is a Centre of Hospitality, Heritage, Pilgrimage and Renewal. It is a Wellspring of inspiration for those who come to continue Catherine's mission with new life.

If you are in Dublin, tours of Mercy International Centre are available. Tours are conducted by appointment at 10.00am Mondays to Fridays. A tour takes approximately two hours and includes tea and scones.

Cost €6 per person. To register an individual or group tour contact us.

Welcome to the very first House of Mercy that opened in 1827 and today is known as Mercy International Centre. Roll over the dots to take a tour of the ground floor which includes the house's iconic red doors, chapel, memorial garden and Catherine's tomb.

Ground Floor
  • The Entrance
  • Catherine Statue
  • Callaghan Room
  • Chapel
  • Telford Organ
  • Tabernacle
  • Kneeler
  • Painting
  • Pews
  • Sacred Garden
  • Catherine's Tomb

The Entrance

The House of Mercy's iconic red doors are rarely closed. Colorful doors are common in this Georgian area of Dublin and are a well recognized symbol of "welcome," a concept Catherine warmly embraced. Though the original doors of the House of Mercy were either brown or black, the red doors seen today are in keeping with vibrant colours in Catherine's time that were a symbol of individuality.

The Entrance
The Entrance
The Entrance
The Entrance

Catherine Statue

Catherine McAuley was sculpted in 1994 by Michael Burke, former president of the European Council of Artists, for the opening of Mercy International Centre. Catherine is shown with a woman holding a baby. Catherine is encircling the woman with one hand while the other is outstretched to welcome you inside as you approach the doors. Many passersby stop to touch her outstretched hand or leave small change for the needy.

Catherine Statue
Catherine Statue

Callaghan Room

The Callaghan Room was once used as a sitting room and reception parlor. Today the room is decorated to resemble a 19th century drawing room such as the one at Coolock House, Catherine's home with her beloved Callaghans.

Callaghan Room

Chapel

The chapel is original to the house. It took five years to complete, but remains almost as designed, apart from minor alterations undertaken by John Bourke in 1858. The chapel was dedicated in 1829, two years after opening.

Chapel
Chapel
Chapel
Chapel
Chapel

Telford Organ

The organ dates back to 1844. it was built by William Telford, the leading Irish nineteenth century organ builder. The pipes are gilded and there are niches for plaster statues. The front of the organ is decorated with a fine cast iron balustrade with an oak handrail. The pedal board was added in the 1960s and the organ was restored in 1998 and re-dedicated in 1999

Telford Organ

Tabernacle

The tabernacle is original and is decorated with jewels that some of the early Sisters who joined Catherine brought with them as part of their dowry and from the ladies who helped Catherine. The Tabernacle rests on a base carved with a series of strokes suggesting the Celtic ogham stone. Ogham stones were Celtic inscribed stones, usually erected to honour a hero.

Tabernacle
Tabernacle
Tabernacle
Tabernacle

Kneeler

This kneeler is the one on which Catherine knelt when she took her vows. The wood is original, but the ironwork and marble were added later. This treasure is on permanent loan from Sisters of Mercy at Arklow.

Kneeler

Painting

Our Lady of Mercy painting was sent by Pope Leo XIII to Rev. Mother M. Liguori Keenan in 1890. A plaque on the frame states, ''The Holy Father placed his hand on it, blessed it, and commissioned me to send it to your Convent in his own name, as the special image or painting of the entire Order of the Irish Sisters of Mercy." It is a painted copy of a supposedly miraculous mosaic found in the Church of St. Pudensiana, one of Rome's oldest churches.

Painting

Pews

Simple wooden pews were the original furnishings in the chapel. They were replaced in 1858 with these monastic choir stalls carved from Irish oak and designed in the Gothic style by John Bourke. They were installed in the midst of several renovations undertaken by Mother Cecelia Xavier Maguire, who served three years as Mother Superior in the mid 1850s.

Pews
Pews
Pews

Sacred Garden

The Sacred Garden is where 50 Sisters of Mercy, who died between late 1841 and 1883, are buried. Their mounded graves were visible until 1940. Today, Catherine's tomb is the only one visible. A wall at the top of the garden comprises memorial bricks which honour benefactors who support Mercy International Centre and its ministry.

Sacred Garden
Sacred Garden

Catherine's Tomb

Catherine's grave was originally marked with a plain cross. It was Catherine's wish to be buried in the ground, as was customary for the poor, rather than in a crypt. She was the first Sister of Mercy to be buried at Baggot street in the cemetery which was consecrated at the time of her death. In 1869, a flat marble slab with an inscription, which can still be seen today, was added. In 1910, a memorial chapel-like structure was built over the slab.

Catherine's Tomb
Catherine's Tomb
Catherine's Tomb
Catherine's Tomb
Catherine's Tomb
Catherine's Tomb

The FIRST FLOOR includes Catherine's room, along with her original desk, writing tools and a letter inked by Catherine herself.

First Floor
  • Catherine's Room
  • Kneeler
  • Cross
  • Writing Desk
  • Writing Tools
  • Letter
  • International Room
  • Water Vessels

Catherine's Room

Catherine's Room faces Baggot Street. It was where Catherine McAuley spent her final days and took her last breath on November 11, 1841, at age 63. Interestingly, this is the only room that still has its original pine plank floors. All other areas of the house suffered wood rot.

Catherine's Room

Kneeler

This prie-dieu (kneeler) was bequeathed to Catherine by Father Armstrong, friend and mentor, in his will. Catherine used it for private devotion. A crucifix attached to the top may have been used by Catherine. Pilgrims today can use the prie-dieu for prayer and often like to touch the cross as they pray.

Kneeler
Kneeler

Cross

This cross over the front doorway of the House of Mercy can be seen from the window of the Doyle room. The Doyle room served as an infirmary for many years where the Sisters nursed many sick and dying people.

Cross
Cross

Writing Desk

This writing desk is from Catherine McAuley's room at Coolock House where she lived with the Callaghans. From this desk at the House of Mercy, Catherine inked more than 300 letters of correspondence to Sisters, bishops and anyone who could further the mission. Many of those letters are still in existence today and some can be seen in the House of Mercy's archives.

Writing Desk
Writing Desk

Writing Tools

Catherine's writing tools/inkwell are included in this decorative wooden box that has drawers for paper and quills and holders for ink, which at the time would have been made from soot, charcoal or blackberry juice.

Writing Tools
Writing Tools

Letter

Penned by Catherine herself, this letter is in her tiny cursive handwriting. Catherine continuously wrote letters of encouragement to Sisters opening Houses of Mercy across Ireland and England, as well as benefactors and church officials.The House of Mercy's iconic red doors are rarely closed. Colorful doors are common in this Georgian area of Dublin and are a well recognized symbol of "welcome," a concept Catherine warmly embraced.

Letter

International Room

This was the first classroom of the Sisters of Mercy. More than 200 students could be taught in this room in shifts each day. Today it is a meeting room that represents all the nations in which Mercy serves.

International Room

Water Vessels

In a spirit of unity and enrichment, Sisters of Mercy from all over the world returned to Baggot Street in 1994 for the opening of Mercy International Centre, creating a "Wellspring of Mercy" with the mingling of waters in the rill in the Sacred Garden. The water vessels used in the ceremony form an attractive display in the International Room.

Water Vessels
Water Vessels

The SECOND FLOOR includes a historic wooden staircase and the bell that tolled daily in the early years. It's also the location of Catherine's original bedroom.

Second Floor
  • Stairway
  • Bell
  • Original Bedroom
  • Visitor Bedrooms
  • Dormitory
  • Sewing Room

Stairway

The House of Mercy's original stairway included a lower level made of granite and two wooden flights leading to the upper floors. The granite stairs remains today. The wooden flights were replaced in the 1850s.

Stairway
Stairway

Bell

This bell was rung several times a day to call the Sisters to prayer, to meals and to other duties. It was also rung every time a Sister died to signify the passage of her soul from this life to the next. Today, it is rung 14 times during the end of the pilgrimage experience in honor of the 14 Houses of Mercy Catherine founded across Ireland and England during her lifetime.

Bell

Original Bedroom

This is a photo of Catherine's Original Bedroom in the 1800s. Her room faced Baggot Street.

Original Bedroom

Visitor Bedrooms

An original door from one of the bedrooms at the House of Mercy, dating to its opening in 1827. The door is now part of the collection in the Heritage Room. The door had a small hinged inset which held a candle holder and candle. This allowed the inset to be turned outwards so that a Sister, carrying a lighted taper as she did a morning call of all the Sisters at 5.30 a.m., could light the candle and turn it inwards to light the Sister's room as she rose and dressed.

Visitor Bedrooms

Dormitory

Dormitory Women and girls receiving shelter and training at the House of Mercy slept in these dormitory-style rooms. Today, this area has been remodelled into private guest rooms for pilgrims and visitors.

Dormitory

Sewing Room

Sewing/skills room Women and girls learned valuable trades like sewing in training rooms such as these. This was a time when all garments, both plain and elaborate, had to be hand made, and Catherine persuaded many of her rich friends to purchase their garments from the girls.

Sewing Room

The LOWER LEVEL includes the kitchen, Heritage Room, illuminations of the Sisters' work and the original wrought iron keys to the house.

Lower Floor
  • Kitchen
  • Stamp
  • Sister Clare Artwork
  • Illuminated Books
  • Prayer Book
  • Keys

Kitchen

This old photo of the kitchen depicts some of the House of Mercy's early students being taught food preparation. While it has undergone various renovations throughout the years, this is still the kitchen area today.

Kitchen

Stamp

A stamp depicting Catherine and a £5 note hang on a wall as a testament to the love the Irish people bore for Catherine McAuley. Both were designed by Irish artist Robert Ballagh. In 1978, Catherine's memory was honored with a postage stamp bearing her likeness. In 1994, when the Central Bank of Ireland honored a politician, linguist, literary figure and religious figure in their new series of banknotes, people insisted Catherine's image be placed on the smallest denomination possible, so even the poor would be able to carry her image in their pockets.

Stamp

Sister Clare Artwork

These illuminations of the Sisters' daily work are housed in an extensive collection in the Heritage Room. Sister Clare Augustine Moore, one of the first Sisters of Mercy, catalogued in intricate calligraphy and illuminated art the lives, works and mission of the Sisters of Mercy. So inspired by Catherine and her mission, Clare devoted every spare minute to documenting the story of the Sisters of Mercy in what is today, for the most part, a lost art form.

Sister Clare Artwork

Illuminated Books

These illuminations of the Sisters' daily work are housed in an extensive collection in the Heritage Room. Sister Clare Augustine Moore, one of the first Sisters of Mercy, catalogued in intricate calligraphy and illuminated art the lives, works and mission of the Sisters of Mercy. So inspired by Catherine and her mission, Clare devoted every spare minute to documenting the story of the Sisters of Mercy in what is today, for the most part, a lost art form.

Illuminated Books
Illuminated Books
Illuminated Books

Prayer Book

Catherine's prayer book is well worn from years of Catherine's use. Many of the most worn pages show which prayers gave her solace throughout her life. In the normally blank pages of the front, she inked personal favorites in her tiny handwriting, so small it's surprising anyone could read it by candlelight.

Prayer Book

Keys

These very keys to the House of Mercy opened its doors beginning on September 24, 1827, the feast of Our Lady of Mercy.

Keys