Norbertine Abbey at Kilnacrott to become nursing home

Wednesday, May 11st, 2011

The Norbertine order has sold its Kilnacrott Abbey monastery in County Cavan to Sheelin Nursing Home, which will now erect a 60-bed residential centre for the ill, and elderly.

The order is reported to be getting €900,000 for the complex including 44 acres of grounds.  The collapse in property prices has hit the vendors hard and the sale price is less than a third of the €3m asking price Kilnacrott was valued at when it first went on the market in 2008.

Having expressed interest in buying, Sheelin Nursing Home made closing of the sale conditional on the vendors securing planning permission for a nursing home on the property and this was granted last year.  New accommodation will also be constructed opposite the nursing for the six Norbertine priests still at Kilnacrott, including Prior Fr Gerard Cusack and former prior Fr Kevin Smith.

The sale marks the end of an era that started in 1924, when the order was invited to the area by the then bishop of Kilmore Patrick Finegan.  The first abbot was Fr Felim Colwell, who was replaced when he died in 1968 by Fr Smith.

The abbey gained notoriety in recent years as the base of the late Fr Brendan Smyth, against whom many allegations of child abuse were made and who was convicted and jailed in Northern Ireland for paedophile offences.  The Norbertines have pledged that some of the proceeds from the sale of Kilnacrott will go to compensate victims of Fr Smyth.

In a statement, the Order said that  it had sold the farm and stock fifteen years ago and was now selling the abbey and remaining land “in an attempt to respond in some meaningful way to victims of abuse.”

“We appreciate that none of this will be sufficient to repair the immense hurt caused by our failures,” the statement continued.

“The monies that will accrue from the sale of the property will be used to clear our current debts, which are related to the support of victims, to care for our elderly members, and the possibility of building a modest residence in keeping with our present needs, in the immediate locality.”

“At a pastoral level, we will continue to support, as best we can, people who have been abused and are in contact with us.”

by Fintan Deere