Brigidine Convent Abbeyleix
In 1842 the Brigidine Nuns came into Abbeyleix and a fine convent building was constructed adjoining the Catholic Church to house them and to allow them to run schools for infants and girls, which they did superbly for over one hundred years. The first border entered in October1844 and opened as a day school in 1918. The convent building was extended in 1851 and again in 1863 with the building of the beautiful Nuns’ Chapel.
The little Chapel dedicated to the Most Holy Trinity was much admired for its beautiful stained glass windows, handsome choir seats and Station Pictures. The valuable oil painting of St. Brigid in the Chapel was brought from Rome by His Lordship the Bishop of Pittsburg, and presented by him to the Convent where his sister was one of the community. In 1890 a fine new National School for girls was constructed in front of the Convent.
The old Convent Primary School was demolished to provide a car park for churchgoers, and later when the Community School came into being, the old Convent and its secondary boarding facilities went the same way, the price of progress. All that remains is the elegant nuns’ chapel attached to the main church. Parts of the old grounds of the convent were developed during the 1990’s under the auspices of the Horizon Employment Initiative of the European Union. The sisters of Charity of Jesus and Mary had started Dove House, their Day Program and Sheltered Unit in the old Vocational School building, and in 1995 they moved to the new purpose built centre in the old convent garden,
In 1990 the school amalgamated with the Salesian Priests, Presentation Sisters and Vocational Education to become Heywood Community School.