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'Gifting of Seven Letters of Nano Nagle' by the Ursuline Sisters to the Presentation Sisters



Sr Anne Harte Barry, osu, Sr Mary Deane, pbvm and Agnes O’Sullivan 
of Nano Nagle Place portraying Nano 

Nano Nagle had a significant role in establishing the first community of Ursuline Sisters in Ireland in 1771, before establishing her own religious order, the Presentation Sisters in 1775. Since then, the schools set up by the Presentation Sisters and the Ursuline Sisters and their ongoing educational endeavours continue to touch the lives of hosts of students and their families in Cork city, across Ireland and, indeed, across many parts of the world.

Ursuline Sisters present for the ‘Gifting Ceremony’ at Nano Nagle

These letters include Nano’s correspondence with Eleanor (Sr Angela) Fitzsimons, the first Irish woman to volunteer to train as an Ursuline Sister in Paris, in preparation for setting up the first Ursuline Convent in Cork in 1771. Nano oversaw the building of that convent, just off Douglas Street, and once installed, the Ursuline pioneers worked in Nano’s school in Cove Lane (Douglas St) while also establishing a boarding school for girls. When the Ursuline Sisters moved from there across to Blackrock in 1825, due to their expanding mission of education, their vacated convent became home to the Presentation Sisters, beside which they went on to establish the South Presentation primary and secondary schools. 

Presentation Sisters present for the ‘Gifting Ceremony’ at Nano Nagle 

On 8 June 2018, Feast of the Sacred Heart, Sr Anne Harte Barry, Provincial Leader of the Ursuline Sisters of Ireland, Wales and Kenya, on their behalf enacted the gifting of the Letters to Sr Mary Deane, Congregational Leader of the Presentation Sisters.                                    

Sr Mary McDaid, osu and Sr Emer Madigan, pbvm

                                                                                The handover of these original letters was done as part of a Ritual, which began at the Goldie Chapel and ended at the Tomb of Nano, located in the Cemetery where both Ursuline Sisters and Presentation Sisters are buried, at Nano Nagle Place. “We are very excited about receiving letters penned by Nano’s hand. What a wonderful gift to receive during this special year which marks the 300 anniversary of the Birth of Venerable Nano Nagle,” said Sr Mary Deane. “These letters are a reminder to us of the vision of Nano Nagle and what she stood for – during the dark days of Penal Ireland. Now is our time to pass on the spark of faith, hope and love ignited by that wonderful and courageous woman, to a new generation and in new creative ways. The redevelopment of Nano Nagle Place is an example of one such imaginative response by the Presentation Sisters, in collaboration with others, to the needs of our time.” 

The seven letters will be held at the new state-of-the-art Presentation Sisters Congregational Archives (PSCA) at Nano Nagle Place, Cork.

A very special thank you to the Ritual Planning Group: Sisters Anne-Marie Dixon, osu, Emma Rooney, pbvm, Elizabeth Bradley, osu and Mary Dinneen, pbvm. 

To view the recorded footage of the ‘Gifting Cermony’ in the Goldie Chapel and the Ritual at the Tomb, please click here


Launch of the Nano Nagle Digital Project and Online Tercentenary Exhibition

To coincide with the Tercentenary of Nano’s birth, the Presentation Sisters (Union) sponsored a PhD research project with University College Dublin which includes the digitisation of the entire collection of the Letters of Nano Nagle and a short online exhibition on the early foundations of the Presentation Sisters. On the afternoon on 8 June, Professor Deirdre Raftery of UCD, launched the Nano Nagle Digital Project and the online Tercentenary Exhibition at Nano Nagle Place. Dr Raftery highlighted that “This project with UCD School of Education and UCD Digital Library has resulted in the first Irish digital reunification of globally-dispersed congregational archives and paves the way for many more similar projects to preserve our heritage.” 

L-R: Sr Marie Therese King, pbvm, Sr Rosarie Lordan, pbvm, Professor 
Deirdre Raftery, Dr John Howard, Orna Roche, Julia Barrett, Sr Anne
O’Leary, pbvm, Deirdre Bennett and Sr Anne Coffey, pbvm 

The Launch formed part of a three-day Summer School in Archives 2018 which took place in Nano Nagle Place from 7 – 9 June.

The Nano Nagle Digital Collection can be viewed online by clicking on the following link:


You can also view the collection on ‘google arts and culture’ by clicking here