Facing south out over the harbour town’s serried hills and terraces, as well as having views to the ocean beyond Roches Point, the complex of buildings is pitch-perfect for quality hotel occupation above all other new uses, and is on the market as Cobh commemorates the 100th anniversary of the visit of the Titanic, with a surge in its tourism numbers.
On two acres, the convent has 25,000 sq ft of buildings in all, with dual access, and is within a few minutes’ walk from the waterfront — uphill. Among the Sister of Mercy order’s past pupils is top athlete Olympian and World Champion runner Sonia O’Sullivan, who attended their St Mary’s NS.
The convent comes to market with Cobh estate agent Johanna Murphy & Son, who gives it a guide price of €1.2m. She says it has huge scope for a buyer who can take advantage of the market lull, with demand locally and further afield for a boutique-style hotel and wedding venue. Other uses would be as a nursing home, heritage centre/museum or it could be sub-divided, she suggests.
“There are some very fine rooms with exceptional features and the views are just spectacular,” she says.
It has been associated with the Sisters of Mercy since 1850 when they took over a house on the site, and later expanded and built on, with the chapel added about 1860.
At one time it housed a community of about 40 sisters and it ceased to be used as a convent in 2009, with around 10 members of the order now living elsewhere in Cobh and Rushbrooke. One section has continued to be used for community/Fás and pastoral purpose.
Proceeds of the sale will go to the State funds set up to assist victims of clerical abuse following the 2009 Ryan Report. The Dáil is due to finally ratify the details in the coming month, with any proceeds above the €110m cap to be given to the National Children’s Hospital, said the Southern Provincial leader of the Sisters of Mercy, Sr Liz Murphy. She said the order was giving properties with a 2009 valuation of €23m to the post-Ryan fund, whilst others had been gifted to community/VEC purposes and made available to housing associations such as Clúid, Respond and, in the case of Dingle’s Coláiste Íde, to Cáirde Coláiste Íde.
Cobh’s convent and setting is “the jewel in the crown” of the order’s southern buildings, said Sr Liz Murphy, noting that it had been offered to the State and Department of Education who favoured its sale.
The building featured in the film Eclipse, directed by Conor McPherson. Now, a new chapter awaits.