Nano Nagle remembered 300 years after her birth at Ballygriffin near Mallow

17 June 2018
By Mary Bermingham

Bishop William Crean of Cloyne was the chief con-celebrant of a special Mass at Nano Nagle Birthplace at Ballygriffin, near Mallow, Co. Cork to mark the tercentenary of the birth of Nano Nagle there. Nano Nagle was the founder of the Presentation Sisters who have spread to all continents of the world.

Speaking during the Mass, Sr. Mary Deane, Congregational Leader of the Presentation Sisters referred to “this place where Nano, nourished and nurtured in body, soul, and spirit grew strong in the faith of her family, the faith of her ancestors. That faith took root deep in her heart … a faith not confined to buildings, churches, particular devotions or theologies, but a faith rooted in the cycle of everyday life in which God is immersed”.

Nano Nagle was born into a wealthy Catholic family during the penal laws in Ireland. She was sent to Paris to be educated. As a young woman, disturbed by the suffering of the poor people around her, especially the poverty and lack of education of the young people, Nano wondered what she could do. She decided that to respond to God she would become a nun and so she entered a convent in Europe.

Sr. Mary recalled how “Nano continued to feel disturbed, after seeking advice and following the wisdom of her heart, she realised that maybe God was calling her to return to Ireland, and so she did. Having settled in Cork city with her brother and his wife, she saw an opportunity to respond to the voice of God stirring deep in her heart and so she began in a small way with one school for the children at what is now Douglas Street. As we know from that small beginning, Nano’s work and influence has spread throughout the world”.

“Today, as we reflect on the gift of Nano’s life and her response to God, we might ask the question as individuals and as communities – what are we disturbed about? How does it impact me? How does it impact us as a family, as community? Am I able to talk about it? Are we able to talk about it and reflect on it together as we seek to find deeper meanings? In light of this, How do I respond, how do we respond?

Referring to Nano Nagle Birthplace, Sr. Mary said it “provides a space to engage in this deeper journey. A sacred place that honours the story and legacy of Nano, a woman born of this place. A place that reminds us of our inter-connectedness and communion with all of life. A place of prayer, of healing, and hope and a wonderful resource for us all.

“Today, we celebrate the extraordinary contribution that Nano Nagle, a child born of this place, made to the world of her day. A woman who continues to inspire countless people throughout the world today” she concluded.

Anne Scully on behalf of Killavullen Community Council told the large gathering that Nano Nagle Birthplace is a tribute to the Presentation Sisters of our time, here at home and around the world. “Nano’s flame of faith shines brightly in many lands where her work continues in her name. Education of and love of the poor were the core values of her vocation, and it was here in Ballygriffin that her journey began. In the face of fear, she chose to be daring, in the face of anxiety, she chose to trust, in the face of impossibility, she chose to begin” she said.

Programme of Events

A special programme of events to mark the tercentenary are being held at Nano Nagle Birthplace. Details are listed on

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