The religious order that ran the Mount Anville private schools in south Dublin for generations has unveiled plans to develop housing for elderly people on a portion of its lands near Stillorgan.
The move by the Society of the Sacred Heart, which established a convent and schools in the area in 1865, reflects the ageing of the congregation and a dwindling number of nuns.
It follows long discussion within the Irish-Scottish Province of the congregation to settle on an appropriate use for lands at Mount Annville and a “legacy and social dividend” for a community in which it has had a presence for more than 150 years. The province, which once had 270 sisters, consists today of 45 retired sisters whose average age is 82.
It will make a site of almost three acres available at Lower Kilmacud Road for an “age-friendly” housing project for a small number of ageing nuns and elderly members of the wider community.
“The scheme will provide a housing mix for older people on the local authority housing list … and other people who may choose to relocate in the locality,” it said.
The congregation has been in discussions about the initiative with Sophia Housing Association, an approved housing body based in central Dublin. However, a spokesman for the congregation said the questions of whether the land would be sold, leased or simply provided to the housing association was not settled. “That is a decision that has not yet been taken,” he said.
The society transferred trusteeship of its fee-paying secondary school for girls and its junior Montessori school in 2007 to a body known as Mount Anville Sacred Heart Education Trust.
“The proposed project will not impact on the educational facilities associated with the Mount Anville schools, including the extensive sports facilities,” it said.
The congregation, which is set to seek discussions on a planning scheme with Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown county council, said its decision reflected the national housing crisis and the shortage of appropriate housing for older people. The State’s population was ageing and the proportion of older people was rapidly on the rise, it added.