Public raise €50k for nuns ordered to leave illegal West Cork compound 

Public raise €50k for nuns ordered to leave illegal West Cork compound 

Sr Irene Gibson, Carmelite Nun of the Holy Face of Jesus and Sr Anne Marie of the Holy Family Carmelite Hermitage, Leap, Co Cork.

People have raised nearly €50,000 for a nun who has been ordered to leave an illegal compound in West Cork.

Mother Irene Gibson, a Carmelite Nun of the Holy Face of Jesus, has been ordered to leave the compound at Corran South near the village of Leap in West Cork by next June.

This follows a 2019 conviction for breaching planning regulations in relation to the premises which she set up as a religious retreat in 2016.

Mother Irene and New Zealander Sr Anne Marie were given time last September to return the site back to its original condition and find somewhere else to live.

When the matter came back before the courts last month, Judge James McNulty heard the nuns still lived there.

But he acknowledged they had made significant steps to dismantle structures they had erected.

He subsequently gave them a further period of time to find another home.

As recently as Sunday afternoon, donations were still coming into the account.

The highest to date was €4,575 donated anonymously six months ago, while a considerable number of individual donations range from €200 to €1,000.

The headline for the appeal on the Gofundme.com page is "Carmelite Nuns need urgent help!" and it has a target of €85,000.

The fund-raising page comes with a video, in which both nuns appeal for help.

Sr Anne Marie, addressing the camera, says: "Cork County Council is depriving us of our home and interfering greatly in our religious lives of prayer and penance."

Mother Irene then says: "We know God brings good out of evil and he is always with us.

“And we are greatly encouraged by the fact that you are also with us to support us spiritually morally and financially.” 

She also says: "We see in the destruction of our hermitage the malicious work of Satan working through his disciples.

Sr Irene Gibson, Carmelite Nun of the Holy Face of Jesus pictured leaving Skibbereen District Court with Sr Anne Marie of the Holy Family Carmelite Hermitage, Leap, Co Cork
Sr Irene Gibson, Carmelite Nun of the Holy Face of Jesus pictured leaving Skibbereen District Court with Sr Anne Marie of the Holy Family Carmelite Hermitage, Leap, Co Cork

"It should not surprise us then that he is trying very hard to destroy religious life in the Catholic Church and in particular contemplative religious orders who are the heartbeat of the Catholic Church.

"We are determined however to rebuild our lives.

"By the grace of God, we will continue wherever and however God will open the way for us.

"However we have not yet gathered sufficient funds to rebuild our lives so we are greatly in need of your support."

In last month's hearing, the judge outlined how the minimum penalty open to the court was €2,500 and the maximum fine was €5,000.

Last December Sr Irene had indicated the possibility of accepting the offer of a house near Youghal in East Cork.

But she told the court this had proved unsuccessful, as had her other efforts to find alternative accommodation.

She also said she was in receipt of social welfare and properties in the area ranged from €300,000 to €900,000 to buy. 

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