Saints and sinners can bid for confessional at auction in Limerick convent

Donal O'Regan


Donal O'Regan

Saints and sinners can bid for confessional at auction in Limerick convent

PJ O’Gorman, auctioneer, with the confessional in Doon Convent Picture: Michael Cowhey

WHOEVER purchases the pine confessional in Doon Convent this weekend can’t hide behind a cloak of secrecy as it is a public auction.

“I will even give absolution to the person who buys it!” said PJ O’Gorman, auctioneer.

Over 620 lots will go under the hammer in the closed convent, which the seven Sisters of Mercy only departed on July 1. A Thanksgiving Mass was celebrated by Archbishop Kieran O’Reilly in June to thank the nuns and their predecessors for their huge contribution to life in Doon and surrounding parishes for 151 years.

The auction commences this Saturday, July 9 at noon in the premises.

“It is an opportunity to purchase a piece of local history. There has been huge interest locally and from all over the country with many former pupils interested in buying pieces,” said Mr O’Gorman.

The auctioneer, who has over 50 years experience in the trade, can’t even “hazard a guess” at the turnover on the day or what the most expensive lot will be.

“There are many valuable and rare items. It isn’t every day you have an auction in a convent. They only transpire if the nuns are moving out and some convents would be small but this is a very big convent,” said Mr Biggane. 

As well as the confessional there is a Ganter Brothers grandfather clock, painting of Or Lady of Limerick, pair of long Victorian benches upholstered in tapestry, Regency mahogany breakfast table, late Victorian extension dining table which seats 12 to 14 people, library bookcases, church pews, candelabras and a Victorian pipe organ.

“That is just a selection. There is a huge range of glass, china, dining and sitting room furniture. Everything is in immaculate condition,” said Mr Biggane. 

He expects a bidding war on many of the lots but especially on a statuary – a collection of life-size religious statues.

“They are outside in a partly covered area of the yard and each has their own niche. A statuary is a most unusual thing. I have never found anything like these in my 50 years in any other convents. There is a big demand for religious statues,” said Mr Biggane. Included in the 10 are The Madonna and Child, St Joseph, St Peter, St Catherine of Siena and St Patrick.

Last year, an auction of the contents of the Mercy Convent at Balloonagh, Tralee, was the most successful of the year in Ireland with all of the 532 lots sold. 

Viewing takes place in Doon Convent this Friday, July 8 from 2pm to 7pm and from 10.30am on Saturday, July 9 before the auction commences at noon.