On 10th March 2011 we celebrated the 79th anniversary of St Mary’s Abbey, Glencairn. Our foundation was made by the Cistercian Nuns of Holy Cross Abbey, from Stapehill in Dorset, England in 1932. Abbot Stanislaus Hickey (photograph: 2nd from left, back row) of Mount Melleray Abbey, Capoquin, Co Waterford, whose community had been integral to the Glencairn foundation, having found and adapted the site and property for use as a Cistercian monastery, joyfully welcomed the thirteen nuns who were making the foundation to their new monastic home. The ceremony of enclosure was performed on 14th March by the Most Rev Bernard Hackett (photograph: 1st from left, back row), Bishop of Waterford and Lismore, the nuns having been given the chance to settle down and see some of the surrounding area for some days after their arrival.
One of the original group M. Peter Murphy took this photograph (above) of the original group to whom we owe our origins as a Cistercian community. Amongst them were: M. Dolores Cullen, M. Stephen Hunt, M. Margaret Shaw, M. Ignatia Walsh, Sr Aleys Cashman, Sr Lucy Hanley, Sr Barbara Heron, Sr Christina Fogarty, Sr Scholastica Murphy, Sr Stanislaus Tighe and Ms Adelaide Lee. Mother Maura Perry, Abbess of Holy Cross Abbey and responsible for leading the foundation, appears in the centre of the photograph wearing the pectorial cross of her Abbatial office.
An article covering the story of the new Irish Cistercian foundation in The Irish Catholic newspaper of 2nd April 1932, making reference to previous Cistercian communities of women that had existed in pre-Reformation Ireland, bore the headline: “Back from Exile: Cistercian Nuns return to Eire after three centuries.”
On their entrance to the newly erected Church in Glencairn the foundresses chanted the ancient Christian hymn of praise the Te Deum, and each year on this day the community follow this tradition after the close of the office of Vespers in our Abbey Church, with the recitation of the Te Deum together with a prayer of thanksgiving for all the blessings we have received in God’s goodness over the years of our continued growth as a monastic community. Te Deum Laudamus!