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Nano Nagle

Eight kilometres east of Mallow lies the newly established centre in honour of Nano Nagle, foundress of the Presentation Order of Sisters. This centre attracts widespread devotion annually. Nano Nagle was born at Ballygriffin in 1718, the eldest of her family. As with many members of the Irish landed families, who had remained constant to the older religion, Nano Nagle was sent to France to be educated. Education was being denied to them in Ireland unless they agreed to 'conform' to the New Established Church. Nano's life in Paris, where the Nagles had many important social connections, was a gay one without a great deal of heed to the plight of the less well off of her country people, but her conscience is said to have been awakened by the sight of the poor people of Paris waiting in the chill of the morning for Mass while she was returning from an elegant ball.

On her return from France she lived in Dublin for a while with her mother, but the deaths, in quick succession, of her father, mother and her beloved sister, Anne, caused her to return to her home at Ballygriffin and led to a decision to enter a French Convent where she was gradually persuaded that her life would more usefully be employed among her own people and in her own country where the light of education was barred to those of her religion under the appalling Penal Laws. She returned from the French Convent in 1749. She was 31 years of age and while we do not know the exact date on which she founded her first school, it must have been around this time. After all, the proceedings had to be kept secret even from her own family. She was in danger, what she was doing was outside the law. She proceeded slowly with a few children in a mud-cabin. Soon instead of one school she had several. John Butler became Bishop of Cork in 1763 and in the same year Francis Moylan, ordained in Toulouse, returned to Cork.

By this time Nano was beginning to feel that she needed help from outside and in 1767 Moylan began his approaches, on her behalf, to the Ursulines in Paris, but being aware of the dangers attendant upon Catholic Education in Ireland they did not respond. After further approaches, however, they did agree to receive postulants and in 1771 four girls returned to Cork after training. Nano anticipated their arrival and had commenced the building of a convent. This was soon completed but Nano's disappointment was acute when it was made clear that the Ursuline Order was a confined one and the nuns would not be able to leave the Convent to attend to her seven schools. Moreover, as time went by, it became clear that the nuns were more interested in education for the middle classes rather than for the poor, while the latter was Nano's burning desire. She expanded her cottage into another building from where she and her followers could continue her work and at the end of 1777 she and her companions were confirmed in their religious profession.

Nano, at this time, did not have long to live. She continued on her daily rounds from school to school, had undertaken visits to the sick and aged, and had even established a home for the elderly poor. She was never without money problems, yet her tiny figure continued to tramp the lanes of Cork. In those dark lanes she would later become known as 'The Lady of the Lantern', then one day in 1784 her lantern was seen no more. Her foundation spread to become one of the most respected of the teaching profession and the cause of Nano Nagle for beatification is now being actively pursued. Ballygriffin was purchased by the Presentation Order some years ago.

News and Updates

Public Consultation on Mallow Town Hall
25 May 2016

Cork County Council invite you to have your say and find out more about the plans to develop Mallow Town Hall as the North Cork Regional Arts Centre.

Mallow Urban Public Realm Survey
18 May 2016

Mallow Development Partnership (MDP) in association with Kanturk/Mallow Municipal Authority and Mallow Chamber, have engaged the services of Mr Cathal O’Meara, Landscape Architect to prepare an urban design and landscape architectural plan to assist in the preparation of the Mallow Local Area Plan 2015-2021.

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