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Nano Nagle

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November 21st is Presentation Day which commemorates the founding of the Presentation Order of Religious Sisters by Nano Nagle. Scoil Mhuire was founded by Presentation Sisters in 1896 and each year we remember the commitment to education of the Presentation Sisters who served in our school until 1994.

Nano Nagle was born in 1718 and lived in Ballygriffin, Co. Cork with her two brothers and four sisters. Her father, Garret was very wealthy and owned plenty of land. As a child Nano preferred working outside with her brothers than helping her mother indoors.

Nano and her siblings attended a hedge school. When Nano was a teenager herself and her sister Ann were sent to school in France. This was against the law at the time so they had to be smuggled across the English Channel in the hold of a cargo ship.

Whilst in France, Nano and Ann enjoyed attending lots of parties and balls. They always had beautiful dresses to wear as their father was constantly sending them over money and goods.

One morning, on the way back from a ball, Nano saw poor and hungry people standing on the steps of a church. This sight made Nano feel very sad but she did not know yet how she could help them.

When their father died, Nano and Ann returned to Ireland to be with their mother. The Nagle family were now living in Dublin.

One day Nano was searching for a piece of expensive fabric she had brought back from France, only to find that Ann had cut it up and given it to the poor. Nano was amazed. She started going with Ann to visit the poor and she finally felt she was making a difference.

Nano decided to go back to France and become a nun. She joined the Ursuline Order. She felt that she could best help the poor through prayer.

While in the convent, Nano had a dream about the poor in Ireland. In the dream the children were asking her to come back to Ireland to help them. Nano saw this as a sign from God. She believed God was telling her what he wanted her to do.

Nano decided to leave the Ursuline Sisters and go back to Ireland to help the poor children. The other nuns did not agree with her decision but Nano knew it was the right thing to do.

In 1754 Nano opened her first school on Cove Lane in Cork. She taught the children in secret because it was against the law at the time for Catholic children to be educated. Within a short time she had seven schools in the city - five were for girls and two were for boys.

Nano had to beg for supplies for her schools and for food for the children. A friend of her fathers owned a shop in Cork and often helped her.

Nano was worried about who would look after the children when she died. She decided to set up her own order of nuns. On Christmas Eve 1775, Nano and three other nuns formed the first Presentation Sisters. They sang carols in the local church.

At night Nano used to stroll the streets of Cork visiting the poor and the elderly. She became known as the Lady of the Lantern.

Nano Nagle died on 26th April 1784 but her memory lives on.

Video created by Caoimhe Ware and Katie Kelly, Sixth Class 2014

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