Four die at Jesuit nursing home in Dublin

First Covid-19 case in small south Dublin care home was confirmed last week

Three retired and former Jesuit priests and a Jesuit brother died at the congregation's Cherryfield Lodge nursing home in Dublin's Milltown last week.

The first Covid-19 case there was confirmed on Monday of last week, since when HSE protocols have been applied. With a capacity for 20, Cherryfield currently has 12 residents.

Confirming the deaths, a spokeswoman for the Jesuits said: “Our hearts go out to the grieving families, friends and fellow Jesuits, and we offer them our deepest condolences,” adding that“it’s a small nursing home for people who need round-the-clock care”.

“Each resident has their own room and there are now 12 there. Many of the nursing and auxiliary staff have been in Cherryfield for a considerable time and are particularly saddened at the recent deaths. They are doing heroic work in these difficult circumstances.”

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The Jesuits run three of the best known fee-paying schools in Ireland – Clongowes Wood College in Co Kildare, as well as Belvedere College and Gonzaga in Dublin.

Spiritan community

Meanwhile, it is believed the deaths of at least two elderly Spiritan (Holy Ghost) priests who died in Dublin this month were Covid-19 related. They are among eight Spiritan priests who have died in recent weeks, a death rate equal to all Spiritan deaths in Ireland between January and June of last year.

A Spiritan spokesman said that “regarding deaths of Spiritans in Ireland, we had eight in the period January to June of 2019”.

“In 2020, we have reached the equivalent number by mid-April, with all but one of the 2020 deaths happening since the end of March.”

It is understood that at least one of the recent Spiritan Covid-19 related deaths was confirmed post-mortem.

Marian House, the Spiritan-run nursing home in Dublin's Kimmage, was in a "winding down" phase from mid-2018. Residents were transferred to Nazareth House nursing home on the Malahide Road, run by the Sisters of Nazareth, earlier this year.

A spokesman for the Spiritans said on Monday that “in 2018 we took up the option of a block of rooms in Nazareth House on the Malahide Road for Spiritans requiring nursing home care. We currently have 20 residents in Nazareth House.”

Of that number, 15 are believed to be in their 90s.

Among the leading fee-paying schools in Ireland run by the Spiritan congregation in south Dublin are Blackrock College, St Michael's College on Merrion Road, St Mary's College in Rathmines and Templeogue College. They also run Rockwell College in Co Tipperary.

Generally, and with an average age of 73, a significant majority of members of male and female religious and missionary congregations in Ireland are now being cared for in nursing homes.

Patsy McGarry

Patsy McGarry

Patsy McGarry is Religious Affairs Correspondent of The Irish Times