Built in 1861 and designed by William Hague, St Clare’s Convent was home to the order of the Poor Clares. The original building had a spire to the front of the building. The Poor Clares were a closed order and rarely, if ever left the convent grounds. Surprisingly, St Clares Convent became St Joseph’s Orphanage in 1868 and took in young girls until it closed in 1981. The Gothic chapel was added in 1881. It later became a Secondary School and then in 1985, Cavan College of Further Studies was founded here. The Cavan Institute still use part of the building for their classes.
The convent is also the site of the greatest tragedy in Cavan Town’s history. On 23rd February 1943, a fire broke out in the building. At that time, it housed the Poor Clare nuns and was an orphanage. The nuns also took in laundry to help with their income. The fire broke out in the laundry room to the front of the building and quickly spread to the girls dormitories. Despite the best efforts of local men, who rushed to the aid of the young girls, 36 people lost their lives that awful night, including a woman in her ’80s, who had been taken in by the nuns and 35 young girls.