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Our History

In 1972, Sr Colette Hickey of the Good Shepherd Sisters founded Edel House emergency accommodation for women and children in Cork city.

Today Good Shepherd Cork is a Registered Charity and a Company Limited by Guarantee and has an independent board. Our mission is to empower vulnerable women and children who are homeless or at risk of homelessness and break the cycle of homelessness through generations.

After more than forty years of experience, our good work has extended from Emergency Accommodation to Residential Care for teenage girls, Long-term Supported Housing, Education & Development and Ongoing Support and Advocacy.

These services also offer education and further support to help women and teenage girls who have left home or school early to develop their skills and reach their full potential as individuals. Our Ongoing Support and Advocacy continues to bring help to vulnerable women in their own communities after they are re-housed.

Our Origins

Saint Mary Euphrasia Pelletier founded the Congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd (Good Shepherd Sisters) at Angers, France in 1835. The Congregation of Good Shepherd Sisters was founded to develop the work of the earlier Order of Our Lady of Charity. That earlier order was founded by St. John Eudes at Caen, France in 1641 for the care of girls and women in difficulty who wanted help to improve their lives. The Sisters’ motivation is well expressed in the words of the foundress: “Oh, my God! What are we doing in this world, why are we here if not to contribute to the salvation of our neighbour?” A contemporary described her as “A remarkable woman, great of heart and mind and greater still in will, uniting lofty and broad ideas with a constancy nothing could weary and which became bolder in the face of obstacles.

The Congregation derives its name from the theme of the Shepherd in the Hebrew and Christian scriptures. The image is of the loving shepherd who leaves his flock to go after the one who is lost. In the same way, the Sisters of the Good Shepherd have a special mission to reach out to those who have in some way been marginalised or left behind in our world.

In keeping with its origins, the Congregation’s mission is especially directed towards girls and women to help them experience a sense of belonging and to grow toward their full potential as persons. In the Congregation’s ethos, developing a relationship with a person is essential to helping her bring about change in her life. Today this tradition continues with Good Shepherd Sisters operating in 74 countries globally.

The Congregation was established in Ireland in 1848, and in Cork in 1870. The origins of the Good Shepherds investment in this service commences with their relationship with the Legion of Mary in Cork, who from the 1950’s had a facility in 14 Dyke Parade called the Sancta Maria Hostel, which provided for the basic needs of homeless women. In 1972 an approach was made to the Good Shepherd Sisters to see if they would run the service operating out of the hostel on behalf of the Legion: this offer was taken up in March 1972. The name Edel House emanates from a lady called Edel Quinn, who was a Legion of Mary missionary. The first Good Shepherd Sister to take stewardship of the hostel was Sr. Colette in May 1972.  In its work with vulnerable girls and women in Cork, Good Shepherd Cork, now an independent charity continues the mission of the Congregation and shares in the Congregation’s ethos. We build on a heritage of nearly 400 years.