Our History

The special ethos of the Mater Private Hospital has its roots in the Irish Sisters of Mercy, one of the two great congregations founded by and for independent women in the early nineteenth century.

Our founder, Catherine McAuley was born in 1778.

The Mercy International centre is a house of Heritage, Hospitality and Renewal. It was built by Catherine McAuley with a legacy received from William Callaghan. She bought a site in Baggot Street so that the rich could see the plight of the poor. It opened in 1827 as a school for the education of poor young girls and a residence for homeless girls and women.

Catherine did not intend to found a religious order but in order to give stability to the work, she agreed to do so. The building became the first Convent of Mercy in 1831. From this first branch many other convents were established in Ireland and abroad. In 1851 Sr. Vincent Whitty, one of Catherine’s early companions, purchased land in Eccles Street and began the development of the Mater Hospital which opened in 1861. The modern Mater Private Hospital was opened in 1986.

In the early 1990s the Sisters of Mercy from all over the world agreed that Catherine’s original house belonged to the whole Mercy Family. The building was refurbished and rededicated as the Mercy International Centre. When you visit the Centre you will find the First Mercy School, the room in which Catherine died, and other significant rooms. In the Heritage Room one will see some of Catherine’s personal belongings, as well as other treasures from the early days. Catherine is buried in the Sacred Garden. People spend time in the house in order to touch into the roots of Mercy and to be inspired and encouraged by the spirit Catherine McAuley.

For further information you can go to www.mercyinternational.ie or take the opportunity to visit the Mercy International Centre Baggot Street, Dublin.