Landmark Roscrea campus on market for 1.25 million

Thursday, 8 February 2018

ST ANNE'S ESTATE, a landmark property on the outskirts of Roscrea, has gone on sale this week with a guide price of €1.25 million.

Specifically excluded from the sale are St Anne's Special School, the ruins of Sean Ross Abbey and the attached graveyard and two cemeteries.

The large portion of the campus for sale comprises of a wide range of institutional, residential, and other buildings - including Corville House, woodland, farmland and a walled garden.

The owners of the property and religious order which ran the Sean Ross Abbey mother and baby home put the large portion of the campus up for sale, with Roscrea based estate agent Seamus Browne jointly handling the sale with Dublin based agents, Lisney's.

The Roscrea site has gone on sale six months after the religious order, the Sisters of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, put another similar property in Bessborough in Cork up for sale.

In Roscrea the cemeteries where children and sisters are buried will not be included in the sale and will continue to be maintained by the religious order and the sale will include creating rights of way for future cemetery access for those who have a connection with the former mother and baby home.

The premises accommodating St Anne's Special School, plus a large portion of the site to accommodate plans to extend the school in the future, are also exempt from the sale.

In a statement, the Sisters of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary said they are "examining our capacity to run various services and manage property into the future."

"The disposal of these lands is part of an ongoing planning process for our mission throughout the whole congregation," they said.

The buildings occupied by The Daughters of Charity Service are presently the subject of an informal agreement under which rent is paid regularly and the Sisters of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary will enter into a lease with the purchaser in respect of The Lodge, under terms to be negotiated.

The principal house on the estate, known as Corville House, was built in the 1770s and owned by the Birch family, who were wealthy landowners in the area. In the first part of the 19th Century the estate was leased by the Prittie family, and in 1878 it was bought by Count John O'Byrne.

His son, Patrick O'Byrne, a prominent member of North Tipperary County Council and local business man, inherited the property and in 1930 Count Patrick O'Byrne sold the property to the Sisters of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, the current owners.

Historians say that in the 6th Century, St Cronan chose this site for his monastery which he named "Sean Ross," which gave rise to the growth of Roscrea town.

At the request of Government, the Sisters opened a home for mothers and babies in 1931, which closed in 1970.

The Government again approached the religious order and asked for them to care for children with intellectual disabilities, which led to the creation of St Anne's school. In the early 1990's this was extended into St Anne's Service for adults with intellectual disabilities which still operates today both on the site and under the separate management of The Daughters of Charity Service.



Soon after the religious order announced their decision to sell the Roscrea property, Sinn Fein Councillor on Tipperary County Council, Martin Browne, issued a statement objecting to the site's sale.

Cllr Browne called for the government to step in and stop the sale: "This is a former Mother and Baby home and is one of numerous sites around the country who a commission of enquiry is tasked to uncover what took place there," he said.

"Local people like Michael Donavan and Teresa Collins are calling for the sale of this site to be postponed until the full truth is known and until what took place there is fully divulged," he said.

The Cashel based Sinn Fein councillor said local activists are "worried that if this sale goes through the full and horrific truth of this state institution will never be revealed."

"A site like this will be bought by vulture funds and they will have no interest in the history or horror which took place on this site. Relatives and families are entitled to the full and honest truth as to what happened to them and to family members who were placed there. The infant mortality rate in this institution was 37.5-percent, which was the fourth highest in the state, and until these are all investigated no sale of this property should take place," Cllr Browne said on Monday.


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