A Dream Realised in 1629

Marianna Cheevers was a Wexford girl who when she was professed in the convent in Gravelines in 1620, became the first Irish Poor Clare since the Reformation. Her brother was a Franciscan priest and may have helped her find a convent on the continent where she could continue to follow in the footsteps of St. Clare.

The dream, which had drawn Marianna from Wexford to France to dedicate her life to God, was shared by a number of other young Irish girls, Sr. Eleanor Dillon aged 24, Sr. Cecily Dillon, aged 22, Sr. Magdalene aged 24, Sr. Peter aged 19. These five young women moved from Gravelines, initially to Dunkirk, and then to Nieuport where they began to plan the greatest adventure of their lives. This was to found the first convent of The Poor Sisters of St. Clare in Ireland for over one hundred years.

In 1629 they set out for Ireland, settling first in Cook Street behind Merchants Quay Dublin. They were not left in peace for very long. Once the authorities heard of their presence they were banished from the city. With the help of family and friends a simple convent for the Poor Sisters of St. Clare was built outside Athlone. The sisters lived there against a growing background of renewed religious persecution until May 1642 when the convent was attacked and they barely had time to escape before it was burnt to the ground. Marianna had not lost her sense of adventure however and following her dream she went with a group of sisters to found a new convent in Wexford. She died there within a few years in 1646.