Billeder på siden

is formed into rounded thinnish cakes, each of the precise weight allowed to one person, and baked on a hot plate. It is made of three fourths Indian meal and one fourth whole wheaten flour. I thought it better and more palatable than the usual loaf bread.

The following is the history of the Temperance movement in Ballina: Father Mathew visited the town in 1843, on which occasion about 600 took the pledge. A Temperance Hall was established, with the usual accompaniments of newspapers, &c., and a band of music provided. The Society was faithful, and flourished for about three years, but, like so many others, became disorganised during the famine, and was broken up. Two years ago there were still about a hundred pledged members, but at the beginning of the present year the number had fallen as low as thirty.

Fortunately the Temperance cause in Ballina has been taken up by the Sisters of Mercy, who, to the number of eight, have established themselves in a convent here since last October. These ladies have already added a full hundred to the old remnant, and are zealously and successfully following up their triumph. Their plan is to accept pledges, at first, for a period of twelve months only, finding it much more easy to obtain them for that limited period; and well-judging that the great majority of those who have kept the pledge for that period will renew it permanently. These admirable ladies carry their Christian zeal and practical good sense into this as into all their other undertakings. They are found to exercise a much greater supervision over their pledged clients than any other persons could do; and proportional results may be expected from their labours.

I mentioned these noble Sisters of Mercy once before, in my memorandums on Killarney ; but they are so widely spread over Ireland, and so constantly to be found where good is to be done, that I feel it would be unjust alike to their profession and practice (which here, for once, are the same,) not to make them the express subject of a few memorandums in a book professedly treating of Ireland. I shall therefore take the occasion which here naturally presents itself, of telling what little I know about them.

Every one who has been in Catholic countries must have heard of and seen these Sisters at their various works of Charity and Mercy-educating the young, nursing the sick, feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, harbouring the homeless, imparting religion to improve the good and to restore the bad; and all, with that utter self-abnegation and selfdevotion, and with that earnestness, tenderness, and patience, which can only spring from the profoundest conviction that, in so labouring, they are fulfilling God's will as revealed to man.

Of them, and of a few others--constituting a wonderfully-small minority of the great Christian community-it may be truly said, that they accept and follow, to the letter, the precepts and the practice of the great Founder of the Christian religion : not by useless self-sacrifice and barren holiness, but by actively ministering to the welfare and necessities of their fellow-creatures in accordance with that grand fundamental law of all true religion—To do unto others as one would desire that others should do unto him.

Into this small category of true practical Christians, I think we must admit some more of the religious orders existing in most Catholic countries, and now spread widely over Ireland. Of this kind are the Christian Brothers, already mentioned; the Sisters of Charity; and those communities of Nuns, who, like the Sisters of Mercy, consecrate their lives to the imparting of good to their neighbours—particularly to the poor and the young—in the form of EDUCATION. Under this head come especially the Nuns of the Presentation Order; also those of the Sacred Heart, of Loretto, Carmelite, &c. Of the two most active and most numerous of these Orders, the Presentation Nuns and the Sisters of Mercy, there are upwards of fifty separate establishments in Ireland, viz. 30 of the former and 24 of the latter, all of which, I believe, must be regarded as perennial fountains of good to their respective neighbourhoods.

In the First Report of the Commissioners on Irish Education in 1825, it is stated that there were then in Ireland thirty Nunnery Schools, containing 6310 girls. Of these thirty schools, no fewer than eighteen belonged to Nuns of the Presentation Order. The following handsome tribute by the Commissioners to the teaching in these schools is, I believe, most just; and certainly not less so at this time than it was twenty-seven years since. We have visited many of these schools, and have found them conducted with great order and regularity; and the children are, in general, well supplied with books and every school requisite. The Nuns are the teachers, and devote themselves to the duty of instruction with the most unwearied assiduity and attention. We were much impressed with the appearance of affection and respect on the part of the pupils towards their teachers which characterises these institutions in a remarkable degree."

The following few memorandums, extracted from the Irish Catholic Registry of this year, show the work now being done in some of these establishments:

At the Carmelite Convent at New Ross, it is stated that there are 600 children in the schools. At the Presentation Convent at Drogheda, the schools are said to contain 1000 children. In Loretto House, Navan, besides forty lady boarders, there are two large day-schools for the poor, and 200 destitute children receive their breakfast daily. At the Presentation Convent at Limerick, there are 700 girls in the schools. There are two Convents of the Sisters of Mercy in Limerick; in one of these fifty servants out of place are lodged and supported ;

i First Report, p. 88.

in the other, more than sixty orphans are maintained. It is stated that in these two convents, and in two others in the same diocese, there are no less than 2000 girls in the schools. The Sisters of the Convent of the Good Shepherd, in the same city, have charge of a Magdalen Asylum containing seventy penitents. In the two Convents of the Sacred Heart at Roscrea and Armagh, there are at one 60 young ladies, (boarders,) 30 day-scholars of a better class, and 400 poor children; at the other, a few boarders, 20 day-scholars, and about 400 poor children.

Although these establishments go all under the name of Convents or Nunneries, it must not be imagined that they are all of great extent, like many of the communities having similar names which are to be seen in other countries, or which we read of in our own, in former times.

On the contrary, the great majority of them are small, having only such a number of members as are required for the active labours in which they are engaged. Thus, in the thirteen establishments of which I have taken note, the following numbers represent the total staff in each, including Novices, lay-sisters, &c.— 34, 20, 17, 16, 13, 11, 10, 8, 5. It would thus seem that the ancient and unnatural practice of the Catholic Church of congregating together, for mere devotional purposes, large numbers of young women who might have been useful in the world's work, has been most happily modified, at least in Ireland.

« ForrigeFortsæt »