Leighsbrook photographed in 2012. The entrance to St. Joseph's Convent of Mercy is centre right.
In the Ordnance Survey Field Name Book 1835-36, Leighsbrook is described as:
"Situated close to the town of Navan. A gentleman's house with some plantation."
Above is the original Leighsbrook House the "Gentleman's House" mentioned above, later to become the nucleus of St. Joseph's Convent of Mercy. The photo is late 19th century.
Leighsbrook gets its name from a stream which flows along the Commons Rd. but which is piped at Dan Shaw Road, through Parnell Park, McDermott Villas, O'Mahonys, Leighsbrook and Circular Road and finally into the River Boyne.
Below is a photo of the stream at Leighsbrook before it was culverted
During the reign of Queen Anne (1702-14), in the words of Dean Cogan:
"...a little mudwalled chapel was erected at Leighsbrook, separated from Leighsbrook House, the present residence of the Sisters of Mercy, by a stream. In this humble temple the Catholics of Navan worshipped God for 70 years, and frequently during this time their little chapel was closed against them owing to a more rigourous enforcement of the Penal Laws. Then Mass would be celebrated by stealth, while the stars were twinkling on the lonely rocks which line the Boyne below Blackcastle."
One Christmas night around the year 1772 the little chapel crumbled and fell, and the Catholics of Navan were once again left without a place of worship.
For many months after this, Mass was celebrated in a yard off Trimgate Street with a sentry box from the cavalry barracks providing shelter for the priest.
Source: The Diocese of Meath Ancient and Modern Dean Anthony Cogan
(left) Photograph from the 1930s
showing Patrick Smyth planting
potatoes in his back garden