Our History

Foundation of Carmelite Nuns in Loughrea, Co Galway

St Joseph's Monastery Gardens, Loughrea, Co. Galway
                         The gardens at St Joseph’s Monastery, Loughrea, Co. Galway, IRELAND

The foundation was brought about by a Miss Eleanor Burke, whose ancestors founded the Abbey in the 1300’s. Miss E. Bourke was the first to take the holy habit. She was joined by three ladies from Galway, whose surname was Lynch. The date would have been about 1680. As the Penal Laws were then in force, they were obliged to wear secular attire. There are few records of these early times but it is known that the nuns resided in Barrack Street until Mount Carmel Monastery was built in 1831.

     St Joseph’s Monastery, Loughrea, Co Galway

A national school was built on the lawn near the entrance gate about this time also. The chapel was not finished until 1832. The rocks where the Carmelite Fathers offered the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass during Penal times adjoin the enclosure wall, at the south end of the garden, cemetery side, and near the said rocks were found buried a Chalice and candlesticks.

The Chapel was consecrated by the Most Rev. Dr. Coen, Bishop of Clonfert, in 1834 and later renovated in 1980 and rededicated to the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph. It was not until 1859 that the nuns were able to practice strict enclosure, being engaged in the work of teaching until then. The grill was put in place that very year and the schools were closed.