New life for vacant Brigidine convent in Laois town

The vacant Brigidine convent and girls school is planned to be converted to a community hub

New life for vacant Brigidine convent in Laois town
By Lynda Kiernan lynda.kiernan@leinsterexpress.ie @laoisnews

The Brigidine convent and school have been vacant for the past eight years in Mountrath, having formed a vital part of the south Laois town's life since 1809.

Now a new vision by Mountrath Community Forum is to restore and expand that life, and they mean to start by acquiring the building to turn it into a multipurpose centre for the community.

“Our most ambitious project to date is the purchase of the Brigidine Convent, which opens up many possibilities for Mountrath,” the forum's chairman Martin Meade says.

The site is a sprawling one that holds countless memories, and huge potential for community use.

“Besides the many classrooms and buildings there are tennis and basketball courts, facilities for a running track and a large multipurpose hall,” said Mr Meade.

It shares a carpark with St Fintan's church and St Fintan's hall, while there is a walkway to the picturesque Whitehorse river walk that runs through the town.

The building is still in good condition and the grounds have been kept in shape by local CE workers.

“We see this as a social inclusion community hub, the centrepiece of recreational life in the community,” Mr Meade says.

The hub say “a deal has been done” that both the Brigidine Sisters and the Forum are happy with.

The convent and the school were vacated in 2008, with the opening of the new Mountrath Community School further out Patrick Street, an amalgamation with Ballyfin College.

The site had gone up for sale but there were no takers with the economic crash.

Cllr James Kelly, a member of the forum, is excited about not just the Brigidine site, but the potential for the whole of his town.

“There is huge potential for the town. When I went into politics three years ago, it was really to help regenerate Mountrath and bring it back to its former glory.

“It was always a hub for the surrounding rural area. If we can help in any way, to attract business and tourism, and tap into the tourism potential of the Slieve Blooms, it would be an achievement. Mountrath has a lot going for it,” he said.