CONSERVATOR consultant Catheron Ackeroyd was clearly impressed with the Sisters of Mercy's preservation of historic artefacts in Grafton when she visited the convent last week.

Ms Ackeroy's visit was part of a $4400 Community Heritage Grant from the National Library of Australia to conduct a preservation needs assessment on the collection.

The collection comprises everything from diaries from the initial clergy who set up the convent in 1884 to kitchenware, photographs and a wide range of other artefacts from the institution's 128-year history.

The would-be museum has already been on public display - the convent's archivist Sister Judith Weiley taking groups of up to 10 through the collection on demand.

One of the most impressive features of the tour was one of the last to appear - a collection of at least a dozen bronze plaques at the front of the facility depicting key stages of the Sisters of Mercy order from its establishment by Irish nun Catherine McAuley in the 1830s to the spanning of the order to Malaysia, Kenya, Vietnam, Papua New Guinea and Zimbabwe.

The Sisters of Mercy were instrumental in many Clarence Valley institutions, including St Joseph's Cowper Homes, St Catherine's Villa, Star of the Sea Convent and McAuley Catholic College.

Tours, which recommence next year, are $5 per person and include a morning tea.

Contact Sr Judith on 6642 1133 (ext 35).

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