A group of Irish nuns in Galway are both continuing their secluded religious worship and reaching out to the online world. The Poor Clares, an order of Roman Catholic nuns founded by St. Clare of Assisi, have launched a website at www.poorclares.ie. The launch date corresponded to the 750th anniversary of the death of St. Clare.
In 1642, the Poor Clares sought refuge in County Galway after being turned out of Dublin. At the time it was illegal to gather together to worship and early in the century Henry VIII had ordered the dissolution of monasteries in Great Britain. Thus, the nuns headed west to a secluded part of Ireland. Their history both prior to and since settling in Galway has been rife with struggle. They first settled in their current monastery, Oilean Altanagh, otherwise known as Nun’s Island, in 1649 but were uprooted several times before they finally settled there permanently in 1825.
Visitors to the site can learn about the Poor Clares’ history and daily rituals. Some of the sisters give sincere and earnest answers to questions like, “Are you fulfilled?” The answer to that question was, “Love is its own justification.” Such statements are humbling and anyone visiting the site is bound to be struck by the Sisters’ dedication to their faith. While the Poor Clares post their mailing address for anyone interested in becoming a member, the site makes it clear that this commitment is only for the strongest of spirits. There are a series of trial periods for anyone interested in becoming a Poor Clare. Vows include one of chastity, poverty, obedience and enclosure. The nuns are completely devoted to a life of God within the confines of the nunnery.
While not many visitors are likely to contact the Poor Clares in order to become one, they are encouraged to ask questions of the nuns. Despite their secluded life, they are eager to answer questions from people who want to learn more about their religion and lifestyle. ♦