Archived News Item

Conroy’s Cottage

In 1888 one of the Sisters from Victoria Square, Sister Berchmans Deane was paying regular visits to  the prison and was greatly taken with a poor unfortunate young man by the name of William Conroy.  He had been refused admittance into a dance in Fremantle because he was not wearing the correct evening dress.  Conroy was not happy with this and told the man standing at the door that he must let him in or he would shoot him.  The man said “you would not be game”.  He took the challenge and went back home and returned with a gun and shot the man in the leg.   The man later died, not of the gun shot wound but of pneumonia.  Never the less Conroy was charged and convicted of wilful murder and sentence to hang in public.


Many people protested at the sentence and held a rally at the town hall.  However the sentence was upheld and Sister Berchmans Deane did her best to console him and to get him to accept God’s will. He was truly grateful for her kindness and interest in helping him and for providing him with comforting words till his last day. He was so grateful that he made her the beneficiary of his whole property – which was a very large block of land at the corner of Fitzgerald Streets and John Streets.  This land had on it a small four roomed cottage and Sister Berchmans told William Conroy that she would one day found a Convent of Mercy on the property.

It was with this sad beginning that St Brigid’s School at West Perth was established and would be the last branch house out from Victoria Square. The Sisters of Mercy West Perth became an independent foundation on the 25th May 1896.


The little cottage still stands on the West Perth Convent site and today is used to house the Archives of the Sisters of Mercy West Perth.