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We’ve been trying to get a straight answer from the sisters at Delgany’s Carmelite Monastery for quite some time now.

Ever since they announced from the pulpit one sunny Sunday that they were selling up and moving on.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, any real information has not been forthcoming.

Enquiring what might become of the church itself, the sisters sent an email stating simply, ‘We have no idea what will become of the Church – it will unfold over the next few months“. As to the pulpit announcement that the extensive Carmelite Monastery property – 15 acres, zoned residential – is going on the market, the sisters insisted, ‘We have not put the property up for sale‘.

There are a few factors to take into consideration here. In the past, whenever the Carmelites have sold some of their Delgany property – for what would become the Bellevue Lawn and Convent Court estates – the deals were signed, sealed and delivered before anyone in the village knew what was really going on. And there’s every chance that this will be the case if and when this current sale goes through.

These sisters didn’t take a vow of silence for nothing. It makes for good business practice too.

With new admissions to many religious orders having ground to something resembling a halt in recent years, many of our fine Christian soldiers are selling up huge chunks of their vast property portfolios. That many of these properties came into their possession through charitable means – and in the belief that they would forever serve their communities – matters not a jot, it seems, in the face of the multi-millions they can currently fetch on Ireland’s booming market.

And so it is that Carraig Eden was sold. And Luisne was sold. And now, it seems, it’s the Carmelite Monastery’s turn, a sprawling property that takes up not only a large chunk of the village itself but also two fields, one a few hundred yards along Chapel Road, the other backing up onto Bellevue Hill. Beside the Gorteen Way development for 74 houses.

And not too far from the Wicklow Arms development for 12 apartments and various retail outlets. Or the 50 or 60 houses – along with commercial properties planned for the Style Bawn House property just down the road.

Throw in cunning plans for land nestled beside The Glebe, and one woman’s continued campaign to turn Blackberry Lane into a housing estate, and you’ve got one very small village with a huge amount of houses keen to stamp all over its cuteness.

Not that we don’t feel some sympathy for the Carmelites themselves.

This must be a sorry end to a glorious time in Delgany that started way, way back on December 7th, 1844. With plans already in place, we hear, to move the graves in the monastery over to Kilquade, it would certainly appear, after 164 years, the end is very near.

Here’s hoping the Carmelite sisters don’t slip away in the middle of the night, and Delgany gets to give them a proper goodbye…

You can check out Shay Clear’s December 2016 oral history of the Carmelite Monastery here, and check out our December 2015 video chat with Sister Gwen right here.

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