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Notice d'autorité

Poor Clares, Galway

  • PC
  • Famille
  • 1642-2024

In the early 17th century, as a result of continued persecution of Catholics, it was illegal for women to train in Ireland as religious so many opted to travel to Spanish Flanders, France or Spain in order to fulfill their calling. This was the case with the foremothers of our community. They travelled to the Poor Clare monastery in Gravelines, then in the territory of Spanish Flanders, modern-day Northern France. Some of them had brothers who were already Franciscans in the Irish Franciscan College in Louvain. That college had been founded in 1607.

The Poor Clare monastery of Gravelines was founded in 1609 to provide a house for English women who wished to become Poor Clares.As the Irish friars were already established in Louvain they provided spiritual assistance to this monastery before their Irish sisters arrived. Our foremothers joined this community in the early 1620s and by 1626, they numbered five sisters. In that same year on the 20th of May they left the Gravelines community and set out to found a separate house specifically for Irish women in the neighbouring town of Dunkirk. As circumstances changed they eventually decided to return to Ireland in 1629 now numbering seven. After a short period in Dublin they eventually settled in a rural part of Co. Westmeath not far from Athlone. The monastery was appropriately called 'Bethlehem' to emphasise the central focus of Franciscan spirituality, namely the poverty and humility of the Son of God in taking on our human flesh and becoming one with us in the Incarnation.

As the number of women joining the community grew daughter houses were established in Galway, Drogheda, Athlone and Wexford.

We thank God for the life and witness of our sisters and for their faith, courage and dedication to Christ and His holy Mother after the example of St. Francis and St. Clare. We pray that whatever our state in life, we may be faithful to God as they were and that our lives may bear great fruit as theirs did.

This year, 2022, marks the 400th anniversary of the solemn profession of blood sisters Cecily and Eleanor Dillon on the 8th of September 1622. . Sr. Cecily was the Abbess of Bethlehem monastery, the motherhouse of our Galway monastery at the time that the foundation was made in 1642.