Convent of Mercy - Wexford Guide and Directory, 1885

About “Wexford County Guide and Directory,” 1885

George Henry Bassett produced 7 Irish county directories in the 1880s: Antrim, Armagh, Down, Kilkenny, Louth, Tipperary and Wexford. Each provides useful history of the respective counties as well as lists of office holders, farmers, traders, and other residents of the individual cities, towns and villages.

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The directories are naturally an invaluable resource for those tracing family history. However, there are a few points to bear in mind.

  1. This online version of Bassett’s Wexford County Guide and Directory is designed primarily as a genealogical research tool and therefore the numerous advertisements in the original book, many full page, and quite a few illustrated, have been excluded.
  2. The text has been proofed with due care, but with large bodies of text typographical errors are inevitably bound to occur.
  3. Be aware that there were often inconsistencies in spelling surnames in the 19th century and also that many forenames are abbreviated in Bassett’s directories.

With respect to the last point, surnames which today begin with the “Mc” prefix, for example, were often formerly spelt as “M‘,”. For a list of some of the more common forename abbreviations used in the directory, see Forename Abbreviations.

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THE buildings generally known as the House of Mercy, are immediately to the north of St. Peter’s College, and command an equally fine view of the town and harbour. They include three houses, the Convent proper, the House of Mercy, and St. Michael’s Industrial School. There is also a National School, the greater number of whose pupils live within the limits of the institution. An Orphanage existed upon the same premises before the arrival of the Sisters of Mercy. Visitors are admitted by the third gate from town, to a passage which good taste, and a sunny aspect, have converted into a tiny conservatory, full of bloom and sweetness, which looks into a garden on either side. From this the way leads through a hall, where hang specimens of the work done in the Convent, sewing, crochet, knitting, etc. The reception rooms are irreproachable, and the floors and furniture reflect from their polished surfaces the broad and cheerful sunlight. In the room on the right, hangs the portrait of the late Mr. Richard Devereux, chief benefactor of the house. It was painted by Mr. Ambrose Fortune, a native of Wexford, now resident in London. Mr. Devereux built and endowed the House of Mercy for the training of servants in 1866, and in very many other ways displayed great generosity to this and kindred institutions. He died at the ripe age of 84.

The present Reverend Mother has held her position for eighteen years, having been elected to it immediately upon emerging from her novitiate. These facts, combined with many others which salute the visitor at every turn, speak forcibly of a gentle, firm and intelligent management, which have given a tone and spirit to the whole institution. The arches over the corridors, uniting the school and work-rooms, are illuminated with Scripture mottoes, and at the turn is a statue of St. Vincent de Paul, with his hand on a child’s head. To the right is a laundry, which is amply supplied with all needful apparatus. The work is performed by young girls, some of whom have been reared from early childhood in the school, and others who have been taught household duties, in order to be received into service. All are required to have borne a stainless reputation, as the nature and design of the institution is not reformatory, but protective. The corridor further on passes the children’s dining-hall, and, ascending a few steps, leads to a large schoolrooM. Here in long rows, rosy faced girls of all sizes, from six to fifteen years of age, are taught and trained in sewing, knitting, and other useful branches. Good discipline reigns, and each little knitter has a work-bag demurely hung on the left arM. There is a somewhat startling transformation when the recess time arrives, and these quiet little damsels are to be seen scampering over the play-yard, their voices running through the whole gamut of sounds that a child’s lungs are capable of, and which are a part of the physical education. In the schoolroom the same voices are trained to more conventional melodies. The tonic sol-fa system is used, and all four parts are taken with a chime-like effect by the fresh young voices. Time is a matter strictly adhered to. Perhaps the pleasantest sights in the building are the nests of all the songsters. They are reached by ascending the stairs from the door of the schoolrooM.

The dormitories are long, broad and lofty, with windows on three sides. The air searches every inch of them, and makes their purity more pure. At the end of each are two chambers for the Sisters in charge. Across the yard, and with a flower-patch of its own, is the infirmary, a perfect one in its way, but happily not in great requisition. In the room at the left of the entrance is a pretty medicine case, with the simple medicines necessary for childhood’s diseases, including several fine looking dolls. There is a large and airy sitting-room opposite for convalescents. Upstairs are little beds for invalids, and the breezes from the sea pass in and out of the open windows. Returning to the House of Mercy it is well to make the Chapel the finale of the description. Though small, its quiet and tasteful decorations give it a solemnity often unattained in larger edifices. The statues are good, and the altar and niches are abundantly supplied with fresh flowers.

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