Did Your Nan Leave Money To The Nuns?


22/7/2011. Quinn meets Catholic congregations

Representatives of the Sisters of Mercy prepare to meet the Minister of Education in 2011


Ceist is a charitable trust company set up by a number of Irish religious orders, into which ownership of the school property of those orders is intended to – and in many cases has been – transferred.

The orders are the Daughters of Charity, Presentation Sisters, Sisters of the Christian Retreat, Sisters of Mercy and the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart.

The Sisters of Mercy alone has transferred 66 school properties, worth €412m, to Ceist whose directors include Senator Ronán Mullen.

Ceist’s memorandum and articles – publicly available from the Companies Office – define its purpose as the furthering of the aims and purposes of Roman Catholic education generally, and state that its assets are to be used for that purpose.

However the ability to legally transfer school property into Ceist – a trust is limited by the existing charitable trusts on which that property is held where property or money is bequeathed or given for a particular charitable purpose, it must be used for that purpose only.

A widening of that purpose, or transfer into another charitable trust with a different – purpose, is not permitted without consent of the Charity Commissioners – or the High Court.

BUT we are unable to find any record of such consent having been given in respect of any property transferred by the orders to Ceist.

Charitable trusts are permitted because of their public benefit and are under the care and responsibility of the Attorney-General.

To which we ask:

Is this massive transfer of property legal?


Previously: These Are Just Tactics

Mercy Mercy Me

23 thoughts on “Did Your Nan Leave Money To The Nuns?

  1. Captain Obvious

    All depends how they got that property…if it was on land given to them in a will and the will specifically stated “to educate the children of x town” ..then they could be in bother…but if the school was always theirs or the land or property was given to them to do as they will then I would say all is above board…

    1. cluster

      Which is presumably why Broadsheet are looking for their readers to find out what the particularly were in cases involving their own families.

      1. The Lady Vanishes

        Well as charitable trusts are for the public benefit generally it could be argued they are all our business even if our granny didn’t leave money to the nuns… This all seems a v rushed job by the orders. sometimes rushed jobs aren’t done properly.

        1. Salmon of Nollaig

          A search for transfer of property from one charity to the other discloses this decision re. Cheshire Homes. It seems that a transfer of property from one charitable trust to another with even a slightly different purpose requires court permission (or possibly Charity Commissioners permission as per below).


          Shouldn’t the same principles apply to transfer of Order trust property – btw I find it very difficult to believe that even property purchased by the order wasn’t settled on some kind of trust in the purchase deed.

          1. Salmon of Nollaig

            Just did some more digging.

            Amazing how easy it is to find all this out.

            One of the schools in the Ceist scheme is the Eureka secondary school, Kells.


            The Sisters of Mercy website says this was built on land forming part of/purchased with a bequest from Catherine Dempsey.


            The terms of the bequest are also given online. It was for the education and clothing of the poor children of Kells i.e. it was Kells specific.


            If the bequest was for this purpose this would have carried over to property purchased with the bequest.

            I can’t see any difference between this and the Cheshire Home situation. This is just one example of a Ceist property I found out about by googling online. Quite likely there are many others.

  2. medieval knievel

    yep, it would all depend on who was the previous owner of the land, and whether it was donated or bought.

    1. The Lady Vanishes

      What about a property held on trust for the Sisters of Mercy/some other order? Surely it must continue to be used for the purposes of that order? Not for generic church educational purposes?

      And presumably all church school property is held under some form of trust named in the deed? unlikely to be quite the same as ceist.

      1. The Lady Vanishes

        plus million. I saw “Philomena”at weekend. Those adoptions were legally suspect. Powerful institutions do lots of things that aren’t legal. It is up to us to ask questions.

        1. The Lady Vanishes

          It’s a slow process, Bob. It involves a lot of people working together, and it starts with asking questions. Want to get involved? It’s much more fun than living in powerlessness, apathy and resentment.

  3. SnuzzyVanBonckles

    Off to the probate office to check the wills of some of the wealthy Catholics who would have been likely to have donated to various church “charities”

    I’d prefer the cash to end up in the pockets of the legal profession than the Catholic church.

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