Coolock House was built around 1798. In 1809 a wealthy man named William Callaghan bought the house and came to live there with his wife and a young orphaned woman called Catherine McAuley. Catherine set up a new religious order called the Sisters of Mercy. The Sisters of Mercy are involved in education and helping people throughout the world. Coolock House is now a Sisters of Mercy convent.
This video is designed as a resource for primary and post-primary students up to Junior Certificate.
Coolock House is situated in the grounds of Mercy College on St Brendan’s Drive. It is thought that the house was built around 1798. It was not as big then as it is now but the estate was still large. Originally the entrance leading up to the house stretched almost as far as the present-day entrance to Chanel College. There were also several other buildings on the land, such as a coach house, stables and a gate lodge which is a small house at the entrance to a big property or estate.
In 1809 a wealthy man named William Callaghan bought the house and came to live there with his wife Catherine and a young orphaned woman. The young woman’s name was Catherine McAuley. Catherine had come to live with the Callaghans to keep Mrs Callaghan, who was ill at the time, company. They got on very well and eventually, the Callaghans adopted Catherine.
The Callaghans believed that they should help the poor and sick in their area. Catherine assisted them with this work and also taught some of the local children in the gate lodge of Coolock House. When Mr Callaghan died he left the house and land to Catherine which made her a millionaire by today’s standards.
Catherine had been upset by the poverty she had seen and she wanted to set up a centre that would educate and give shelter to poor girls. She sold Coolock House and its land. She built a large training centre and refuge on Baggot Street which was opened in 1827.
In 1831 this became the first Convent of Mercy for the Sisters of Mercy, the new religious order Catherine had set up.
The Sisters of Mercy spread throughout Ireland and the wider world .Today the order is still involved in education and in helping people in many countries.
Catherine McAuley, who had become the first ‘social worker’, was honoured for her achievements by having her picture on the Irish five-pound note for many years.
Coolock House was bought back by the Sisters of Mercy in 1955. They set up a convent, a small infant school, a primary school called Scoil Chaitríona and Mercy College, a secondary school, in its grounds. Coolock House became a convent and some of the Sisters of Mercy still live in it, which would probably please Catherine very much.