Nano Nagle letters handed over to Presentation Sisters

Nano Nagle letters handed over to Presentation Sisters
Mary Heaphy O'Brien, Sofya Abashko, Rosemary O'Byrne and Agnes O'Sullivan who all portrayed four stages of Nano Nagles life during the official ceremony of the presentation of the Nano Nagle Letters from the Ursulines to the Presentation Sisters in Nano Nagle Place. Picture: Howard Crowdy

LETTERS written by Nano Nagle in the 1700s have been presented to the Presentation Sisters from fellow religious order the Ursuline Sisters in what has been described as an act of “extraordinary generosity”.

Sr Anne Harte Barry of the Ursulines presents the Nano Nagle Letters to Sr Mary Deane, Congregational Leader Presentation Sisters as Nano Nagle (Agnes O'Sullivan) continues to write in the background. Picture: Howard Crowdy
Sr Anne Harte Barry of the Ursulines presents the Nano Nagle Letters to Sr Mary Deane, Congregational Leader Presentation Sisters as Nano Nagle (Agnes O'Sullivan) continues to write in the background. Picture: Howard Crowdy

The seven letters relate to correspondence between Nano Nagle and Eleanor (Sr Angela) Fitzsimons, the first Irish woman to volunteer to train as a Ursuline Sister in Paris, in preparation for setting up the first Ursuline Convent in Cork in 1771.

The construction of the convent had been overseen by Nagle close to Douglas Street and the Ursuline Sisters worked from the Cove Lane building until 1825 when they moved to Blackrock.

Members of the Ursuline Community who were present at the official presentation of the Nano Nagle letters by the Ursulines to the Presentation Sisters at Nano Nagle Place. Picture: Howard Crowdy
Members of the Ursuline Community who were present at the official presentation of the Nano Nagle letters by the Ursulines to the Presentation Sisters at Nano Nagle Place. Picture: Howard Crowdy

Upon vacating the building, the convent became the home of the Presentation Sisters where the South Presentation primary and secondary schools were built alongside it.

Since then, the schools set up by the Presentation Sisters and the Ursuline Sisters and their ongoing educational endeavours continue to endure across the world.

Ursuline sisters Anne Hart Harte Barry, Annmarie Dixon, Marianne O'Connor, Mariead O' Connor and Maureen Boland seen at the presentation of the Nano Nagle letters to the Presentation Sisters at Nano Nagle Place. Picture: Howard Crowdy
Ursuline sisters Anne Hart Harte Barry, Annmarie Dixon, Marianne O'Connor, Mariead O' Connor and Maureen Boland seen at the presentation of the Nano Nagle letters to the Presentation Sisters at Nano Nagle Place. Picture: Howard Crowdy

The letters were presented by Sr Anne Harte Barry, provincial leader of the Ursuline Sisters of Ireland, Wales and Kenya last Friday on the Feast of the Sacred Heart, at Nano Nagle Place on Douglas Street. The ceremony was held as part of a ritual which began at the Goldie Chapel and ended at the Tomb of Nano at the cemetery where both Ursuline Sisters and Presentation Sisters are buried at Nano Nagle Place. Sr Mary Deane, congregational leader of the Presentation Sisters, said the order was delighted to receive the letters.

“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 300th anniversary of the birth of venerable Nano Nagle.

Srs Moya Hegarty, Maureen Boland and Maureen Moloney seen at the presentation of the Nano Nagle letters by the Ursulines to the Presentation Sisters at Nano Nagle Place recently. Picture: Howard Crowdy
Srs Moya Hegarty, Maureen Boland and Maureen Moloney seen at the presentation of the Nano Nagle letters by the Ursulines to the Presentation Sisters at Nano Nagle Place recently. Picture: Howard Crowdy

“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 and 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,” she added.

Pictured at the presentation of the handing over of the Nano Nagle letters at Nano Nagle Place were Kay Dunne, Danielle O'Donovan and Susan Richert. Picture: Howard Crowdy
Pictured at the presentation of the handing over of the Nano Nagle letters at Nano Nagle Place were Kay Dunne, Danielle O'Donovan and Susan Richert. Picture: Howard Crowdy

UCD professor Deirdre Raftery also launched a digital project which will see the letters of Nano Nagle placed online in high-spec digital versions so people all over the world will be able to read them.

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

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