End of an era – An Irishman’s Diary on the Loreto Sisters of St Stephen’s Green

A tale that spans 174 years

Loreto Hall: last nuns departed in October

Loreto Hall: last nuns departed in October


On October 31st an era ended when seven nuns left Loreto Hall, 77 Stephen’s Green, which had been home to some of them for 30 years. Loreto Sisters had lived and worked on St Stephen’s Green from the foundation of a secondary school at No 53 by Mother Teresa Ball in 1841. Mother Teresa had been born Francis Ball in Eccles Street, in 1794.


Loreto Sisters


When the Royal University was established in 1878, women were permitted to take its examinations, but not to attend lectures in the building on St Stephen’s Green South which is now Newman House. In 1899, the Loreto Sisters organised lectures in the school at 53 St Stephen’s Green to prepare young women for the examinations of the Royal University.

Study centre

In 1911 the Loreto Sisters bought 77 St Stephen’s Green to use as a university hostel, following the death of its owner, Augusta Magan. Augusta was an eccentric recluse and a possible inspiration for Ms Havisham in Great Expectations. (Dickens had heard of her when he visited Dublin on a reading tour in 1858.) The Magans are one of the oldest documented Irish families and Augusta inherited almost 6,000 acres of land in Westmeath and Meath. Though a sought-after heiress, she never married. And 77 Stephen’s Green was so packed with Augusta’s lifetime accumulation of possessions that it took a fortnight to clear out after her death.

Historic home