Nano Nagle

From A Compendium of Irish Biography, 1878

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Nagle, Nano, foundress of the Presentation order, a woman of singular devotion and piety, daughter of Garrett Nagle, a Catholic gentleman of property, was born at Ballygriffin, County of Cork, in 1728. She was educated in Paris. At an early age her thoughts were turned to the miserably ignorant condition of the poor Irish Catholic children, deprived under the Penal Laws of all chances of education. In Dublin, in 1763, almost privately and on a small scale, and afterwards in Cork more openly, she established schools, principally at her own cost, for the religious and secular education of the very poor. In these establishments, and in the homes of the poor, she laboured at all hours and in all weather, teaching, and advising, and sympathizing with the people in their sorrows.

In September 1771, at her instance, a house for the reception of nuns of the Ursuline order was opened at Cork, and a small community, in filiation with that of St. Jacques in Paris, was settled there. So strong was the prejudice against them among the dominant class, that for many years, except in the privacy of their convent, these nuns had to wear secular dress. Disappointed, however, that the Ursulines devoted themselves chiefly to the education of the rich, she collected together a number of ladies who agreed to give themselves solely to the poor.

Nano Nagle did not live to see the full results of her labours. She died in the South Presentation Convent in Cork, 20th [190b] April 1784, aged 55. The work established by her grew and spread; and in 1791 the community was recognized by Pope Pius VI., and given authority "to erect, and to form, not only in the city of Cork, but in other towns, houses for the reception of pious virgins, whose duty it should be to instruct little girls in the rudiments of faith and morals, to teach them different works peculiar to their sex, to visit sick females in the public infirmaries, and help them in their necessities;" and in 1805 it was fully established as the Presentation order, with power to take vows, and with a rule founded upon that of St. Augustin. There are at present seventy-three Presentation Convents — most of them in Ireland, but several in England, and some in America and Australia.

Sources

190a. Irish Quarterly Review (15). Dublin, 1851-'9.

190b. Irish Monthly Magazine (1877). Dublin, 1873-'7.

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