The Mercy order of nuns arrived in Kanturk in 1868 to a convent provided for them in the building of the new church, to which it was attached. Bad summers and poor harvests from 1877 culminated in a serious potato famine in 1879 and the poor of the town were in great distress. The nuns administered a soup kitchen in a shed in their boundary wall for the relief of the poor, who approached by means of a laneway off Percival St. The importance of this relief may be gauged when it is realised that in February 1880 the Union Workhouse (no. 32) was filled close to its capacity of 800 paupers.
Later converted to a tool shed for the convent, this building still stands but the laneway no longer exists – it ran through the plot of the distinctive house formerly owned by Dr. O’Toole-Hogan.