February 08, 2014

'The Last Days of Old Baggot Street'

The last days of old Baggot Street bring some memories that are glad and some sad.

Magdalena Frisby rsm (RIP)
in 1987 with illuminations
by Clare Augustine Moore

I begin with what made me sad – and thankful: That the takeover was by Mercy international and not by bank of Ireland or Dunne’s Stores was a relief; that Sister Mary Trainer and Elizabeth McCaver arranged the business side so expertly and with delicate sympathy helped us who were too shattered to take it on; that the New Zealand Sisters showed such consideration for us was a comfort. They cleaned and packed with us and often brought in apple tarts and other dainties to raise our lowly spirits. The promise of what could be done by the Sisters world-wide to preserve our one hundred and sixty year old house cheered us who knew that we were at our last stand.

On the sad side was the scattering of our happy community – Sisters we loved going in ones and twos, our loneliness aggravated in knowing that the parting day would soon come for the three of us still here. To shut the hall door on the many who came to Mass and Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament was hard to bear.

Another ordeal was seeing many books from the library dispensed to the Catholic Central Library and the White Friar Street Sale, though we did keep books published before 1880. None of us likes seeing the rooms denuded of familiar furniture as it went for auction.

We hated to give up our ministry in the Parish and to break links with St. Andrew’s, Westland Row after all the years. We knew we would miss our care of the poor people who came to our door and visits of friends and neighbours in the area.

Personally I would no longer have the privilege of welcoming visitors to Mother McAuley’s grave though that was made easier to bear by the certainty that they would come back and by the sneaking feeling that they would get a better welcome than ever. Most of all we grieved to give up our special proximity to Mother McAuley and the early Sisters.

But there was hope, and thank God, we found that ‘the new glory of this Temple is going to surpass the old’ (Haggai 1:9).

Sister Magdalena Frisby was the Archivist at Baggot Street Convent 1981-1992. She died on 28 July, 2012. An account of her life and her great love and faithful tending of the Mercy Story can be read here


L-r: Srs Rosaleen,
Fearghal McSweeney
(members of final Baggot Street Community) with
Kath Burke (ISMA) c1990

It does not concern me that I leave this place,
That I draw down the blinds
And close the door
On this room in my life.

What I really want to know is:
Will the fire that flickered alive here
Flicker in a darkness
And die out?
Or will its fingers,
In some tomorrow still warm the truth
That honours wonder in each frame and face?

When the winds from all directions sweep these walls
And curl and centre before this hearth,
Will some bright tongue of fire
Light a song in me and set me dancing
With new steps the Sacred way?

I have no knowing and cannot see the road.
Let this small poem then
Like a prayer, be my act of faith.

I’ll close the door,
And step
The mist.

Rosaleen Hogan rsm

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