Please note our museum will have no guided tours between the 8th - 11th Dec and will close at 2pm on the 10th & 11th of Dec to accommodate performances of " A Christmas Carol".

The vision of the Diversity Academy was to develop a space where diverse users of our site could come together in creativity to express aspects of their cultures and address issues that are important to them. Diversity Academy was an artist led, community craftivism project where participants created a collaborative artwork. This pilot project, supported by Cork City Council Arts Office, built upon the incredible community cohesion and capacity building activities already undertaken by Cork Migrant Centre, The Lantern Community Project, and Nano Nagle Place. Diversity Academy for the first time brings participants of these organizations together in creativity and solidarity.

The aims of the project were to use as an inspiration the example of Nano Nagle who empowered people through making; to take museum collections out of the archive, particularly our beautiful early 19th century embroidery samplers, to act as starting points for crafting/creative activities; to teach new skills so that there is a shared venture in the participants learning something new together, along with harnessing artistic expression, with the aim of encouraging new social bonds.

A key aim was to allow participants a platform to steer the course of this creative/craftivism venture, which was led by artis Ann Metchelink. Along the way, other artworks were created! Creativity and Change artists Helen O’Keeffe and Claire Coughlan created a ‘graphic harvest’ of the craftivist sessions, giving visual expression to what has been a special and at times emotional experience for everyone.

Nano Nagle Place would like to acknowledge the generous support of Cork City Arts Office Arts in Context Funding 2022

Over the past 3 years we have been delighted to host a Baroque Christmas in our stunning Goldie Chapel with Ensemble Dagda, an early music ensemble comprising James Taylor on harpsichord, Caitriona O’Mahony on baroque violin, Norah O’Leary on baroque cello and soprano Gemma Magner.


In addition, since the restoration of our beautiful 1847 organ, it also features in the programme. Ensemble Dagda perform a mix of Irish and international early music for the Christmas season, from The Wexford Carol to pieces from Handel’s Messiah. With ‘A Baroque Christmas’ Concert Online – we continue our Christmas tradition in a new way.

We invite regulars and new audience members alike to join in our Baroque Christmas tradition.

This wonderful virtual tour of Nano Nagle Place allows you to visit our site in twilight to experience our magical lights. You can also ‘virtually’ visit our Changing Habits and not to make a noise about it exhibitions!

In this tour of Nano Nagle Place we explore what Christmas was like in Cork City when Nano lived here in the 1750s-1780s

This compelling ‘Fairy Tale’ of Nano Nagle is a dramatic imagining of Nano Nagle’s early life in Ireland and in Paris. Actress, writer and director Judie Chalmers created the piece along with Ann Dalton, to explore what motivated Nano Nagle to found here seven secret schools across Cork city in the 1750s.

Told in the candle-lit intimacy of ‘Miss Nagle’s Parlour’, a room we know to have been frequently visited by Nano, this work aims to bring the past alive on this special day in the year for the Presentation Community, 21st November, Presentation Day.

Huge thanks to Colm Walsh for filming and editing this project, Kieran O’Leary for his voiceover work and acting, Ann Dalton and Judie Chalmers for writing the original script, Shane O’Sullivan for the Sound design and for the Nagle Solidarity Fund for kindly funding the production of this video.

On Culture Night, and in collaboration with Munster Literature Centre, poet Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin read from her book ‘The Mother House’, winner of the 2020 Irish Times Poetry Now Award in Nano Nagle Place.

Please enjoy this wonderful recording of Eiléan filmed by Colm Walsh.


As we begin to ‘Resurrect’ live music this Culture Night, we couldn’t help but feel it was the perfect time to release this work by Heinrich Biber – the eleventh sonata ‘The Resurrection’ from his Mystery Sonatas, each of which tells the story of a different mystery of the Rosary. Performed here by Caitríona O’Mahony (baroque violin) and James Taylor (organ) from the beautiful Goldie Chapel at Nano Nagle Place.

This is the final stage on our journey through some of the most iconic and emotive works in the seventeenth-century repertoire. Biber’s writing, with the violin in array of different scordatura tunings, is an evocative and visceral depiction of an intensely human story. The Resurrection is possibly the most iconic of these sonatas, when Biber demands that the middle two strings of the violin be literally crossed over each other – moved from their normal place on the instrument so that a cross forms below the bridge and above the fingerboard. This is also the most explicitly religious music of the set. Elsewhere Biber uses baroque dances as the sections within each sonata, but in the Resurrection, the long central section is based on an Easter hymn tune ‘Surrexit Christus Hodie’ (Christ is risen today), probably dating back to the 14th century.

The most famous programmatic works for violin before Vivaldi’s Seasons, Heinrich Biber’s Rosary Sonatas survive in a beautiful display copy, presented to his patron, Maximilian Gandolph, Archbishop of Salzburg. The engravings which accompany each sonata give them the titles now commonly used. They were possibly used in Rosary prayer and may have been linked with the Salzburg devotional confraternities of the seventeenth century . The engravings were used in printed material of the Confraternity of the Rosary, and they are similar to the paintings which line the walls of the Grosse Aula of Salzburg University, where the Confraternity of the Assumption of the Virgin prayed their regular Rosary devotions. Both groups came under the protection of Archbishop Maximilian, and Biber may even have been a member.

Biber’s fame seems to have lasted beyond his lifetime, with Charles Burney writing in the eighteenth century, ‘Of the violin players of the last century, Biber seems to have been the best, and his solos are the most difficult and most fanciful of any music I have seen of the same period.’  His particular style of sonata-writing unites an earlier style of stylus fantasticus writing with more regular dance sections, his frequent use of ground basses providing more harmonic unity to writing than common in the early Italian sonata.

You’ll be able to enjoy a full online performance of the 5 sonatas and Passacaglia in the Glorious Mysteries over the coming weeks – drop us your email at to be notified, or follow us on Facebook:…

We are very grateful for the support of Cork City Council Arts Office which has made this concert possible.

Thanks to Max le Cain & Chris Hurley of Cork Film Centre, and sound engineer Joe Cusack for their hard work on creating this online concert for you to enjoy from home.

The concert was curated by Caitríona O’Mahony, in association with East Cork Early Music (, and is possible due to the generous support of Cork City Council Arts Office ( and Nano Nagle Place (


We were delighted to celebrate Culture Night 2021 with a selection of events on site and online. Our fantastic museum was open with our wonderful ‘Changing Habits: 250 Years of Convent Life’ exhibition on display.

We launched a new exhibition of photographic portraits of the Presentation Sisters by Clare Keogh entitled “not to make a noise about it” which pays tribute to the Presentation Sisters who still live and work here.

We had beautiful flower boutonniere with Marie using fresh flowers, grasses and silk ribbons as part of her Dragon’s Tail art project.

In collaboration with Munster Literature Centre, Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin read her poems from her book ‘The Mother House’, winner of the 2020 Irish Times Poetry Now Award.

We concluded our series of Heinrich Biber’s Mystery Sonatas in partnership with East Cork Early Music Festival. Caitriona O’Mahony (violin) and James Taylor (organ) performed the Glorious Mysteries live on the night, while a virtual concert was also released.

Cork Printmakers ‘Inflorescence’ exhibition in The Print Gallery was also on show. The exhibition explores themes of biodiversity, botany and ecology. The exhibition takes inspiration from its location within the gardens of Nano Nagle Place as a historic site of contemplation and reflection.


To celebrate the 250th anniversary of the convent building at Nano Nagle Place, take a step back in time with music of the same year – 2 of the three concertos from Maddalena Lombardini’s Op. 2, published in 1771. Cork’s specialists in historically-informed music play on authentic instruments from the beautiful Goldie Chapel at Nano Nagle Place.

The concert was curated by Caitríona O’Mahony, in association with East Cork Early Music (, and is supported by Cork City Council Arts Office ( and Nano Nagle Place (

The works seemed particularly apt to celebrate an anniversary for Nano Nagle. Like Nano, Maddalena created an unusual path for a woman of her day, striking out as a professional musician, and religious orders also played a large part in her early life. Born in Venice, Maddalena Lombardini was a product of the ospedalì, girls’ orphanages which specialised in teaching music (famously the Ospedale della Pietá where Antonio Vivaldi taught). Showing considerable talent at a young age, she was granted permission to study with the famous violinist Giuseppe Tartini, and travelled to take lessons with him in Padua. In a period in which female opera singers were common, professional female violinists were rare – most of Lombardini’s contemporaries either left the ospedale to marry, or stayed in it to pursue music. Lombardini chose both – when she came of age at 21, she received her maestro licence, and married fellow violinist Ludovico Sirmen, the couple setting off to tour Europe as a pair of virtuosi, often playing double concertos. Lombardini published two sets of solo violin concertos which survive and gained significant popularity – enough that they were adapted into a set of harpsichord concerti by composer Tommaso Giordani (who was later Music Director of Smock Alley Theatre in Dublin) shortly after their publication. Her duets are similarly charming works in the classical style, with much swapping of melodic material between the 2 violins.

Maddalena Lombardini (1745-1818)

Violin Concerto Op. 2 No. 1 in B Flat Major (Soloist: Caitríona O’Mahony)

i. Moderato – 00:39

ii. Andante – 07:17

iii. Rondo Allegretto – 11:13

Violin Duet Op. 5 No. 6 in C Major (Violins: Marja Gaynor, Caitríona O’Mahony)

i. Allegro – 18:40

ii. Allegro Brillante – 27:02

Violin Concerto Op. 2 No. 3 in A Major (Soloist: Leonie Curtin)

i. Allegro – 32:45

ii. Adagio – 40:02

iii. Rondo Allegretto – 44:35

Leonie Curtin, Caitríona O’Mahony, Marja Gaynor – violins
Cian MacGarry – viola
Norah O’Leary – cello
James Taylor – harpsichord

Thanks to Max le Cain & Chris Hurley of Cork Film Centre , and sound engineer Joe Cusack for their hard work on creating this online concert for you to enjoy from home.

For more exciting music and living history events, sign up to East Cork Early Music’s Mailing List so that we can keep in touch!

You can also follow us on social media: Follow us on social media! Facebook:… Twitter: Instagram:…


A recording of the Friends of Nano Virtual Pilgrimmage that took place on Saturday 24th April 2000. The 24th April is the Date of Nano Nagle’s death.

This discussion features Dr. Gillian O’Brien, author of “The Darkness Echoing: Exploring Ireland’s Places of Famine, Death and Rebellion”.

In conversation with Sr Anne Lyons, author of ‘The Story of Nano Nagle: Life Lived on the Razor’s Edge’ and postulator for the cause of Nano Nagle.

End the year 2020 with ‘An Eighteenth-century Welcome’ concert recorded live in the Goldie Chapel at Nano Nagle Place, with performances by Fiona Kelly on Flute and Jean Kelly on Harp. This is the last event of 2020 at Nano Nagle Place, and offers a welcome to the coming year.

In this episode we chat with Sr. Mary Deane who was the Presentation Congregation Leader at the time when the South Pres development was being planned.

The ambitious plans required significant investment and the support and financial contributions from the international congregations were essential to the project.

Sr. Mary chats about the whole process, the different challenges faced and how international support was secured, which made Nano Nagle Place as we know it today possible.

Enjoy the show

In this episode we chat with Sr. Mary Hoare who was the Provincial Leader of the Presentation Order during the development of Nano Nagle Place.

Interestingly, she now lives at the Nano Nagle Centre, at Ballygriffin in County Cork, which was the birthplace of Nano Nagle.

She chats about the dilemma of the crumbling but sacred South Pres site and some of the thinking and obstacles that they faced while they were deciding on what the crucial next steps should be.

She also chats about the Nano Nagle Centre.

Enjoy the show

Sr. Mary Dinneen was a former Principal of the Secondary School at South Pres when it closed its doors in 1996.

In this episode we chat with the very special Sr. Mary about her life including entering South Pres as a young woman, when it was an enclosed order.

She speaks about her love of teaching and her pupils, the story of inner city life in Cork and desperately encouraging parents to keep their children in school to complete their education and how gradual societal changes occurred that eventually led to its closure.

We also talk about the transformation of the South Pres site to Nano Nagle Place.

Enjoy the show          

We talked to Pat FitzPatrick about his hilarious book 101 Reasons Why Ireland is Better England

In the late 1760s Nano Nagle set in train a plan to establish an Ursuline convent in Cork city. Four Irish girls went off to train in Paris, and in 1770 Nano began to build them a ‘hidden’ convent on a narrow strip of land behind her own house. The convent was most likely accessed through Nano’s front garden and up some steps. Here we share excerpts of Nano’s letters to Eleanor FitzSimons who was in Paris training for Nano’s new convent. The Ursuline sisters arrived in May 1771 and moved into their convent in September.

A podcast walking tour along St Patrick’s Street, Cork City with Dr Tom Spalding and Michael Lenihan. In this podcast we discover the slow process of rebuilding St Patrick’s Street in the years after its violent destruction in December 1920. This podcast tour was created as part of our programming for the ‘Small Lives: at Home in Cork in 1920’ Exhibition. If you want to treat this as a walking tour head to Savoy Cinema and press play!

Organised in partnership with Cork Decorative and Fine Arts Society, Dr Tom Spaldings lecture covers the reconstruction of Cork after the burning of the city in December 1920. This lecture formed part of the programming around our ‘Small Lives: at Home in Cork in 1920’ exhibition.

A podcast walking tour along St Patrick’s Street, Cork City with Dr Tom Spalding and Michael Lenihan. This podcast tour was created as part of our programming for the ‘Small Lives: at Home in Cork in 1920’ Exhibition. If you want to treat this as a walking tour head to Daunt’s Square and press play!


A lecture by author and historian Michael Lenihan on the burning of Cork, which took place on 11 December, 1920. This lecture formed part of the programming around our ‘Small Lives: at Home in Cork in 1920’ exhibition.

We talked to Claudia Kinmonth about her wonderful book Irish Country Furniture




Kodály Duo for Violin and Cello Op. 7, performed by Siún Milne and Aoife Nic Athlaoich in the Goldie Chapel at Nano Nagle Place.

Join Evelyn Grant as she introduces a musical reflection on Nano Nagle Place with flutist Fiona Kelly, harpist Jean Kelly and spoken word artist Raphael Olympio, recorded in the beautiful Goldie Chapel at Nano Nagle Place.

During the lockdown we asked our team to consider which objects they had missed. Here they are talking about their favourite objects in our museum.






To celebrate Cork Heritage Open Day, which celebrates the built heritage of Cork City, we created this 3 minute whiz through the key architectural styles at Nano Nagle Place … enjoy!

In the summer of 2020 the Cork Migrant Centre Teens created an artwork in response to the killing of George Floyd. They wanted to mark that tragic event and also to express their won experiences of racism in Ireland. Working with artist Kate O’Shea, they created 3 stunning ‘murals’ for front windows of Nano Nagle Place.

This video captures their dance performance during the launch event.


This video introduces Nano Nagle and her work for children and the needy. It gives a taste what can you discover in our museum.

On the 18th December 2017 Dr Mary McAleese formally opened Nano Nagle Place. This video captures the whole ceremony, with included the Catholic and Church of Ireland Bishops of Cork along with the Lord Mayor of Cork City.


As part of our celebration of 250 years of continual convent life at Nano Nagle Place we asked photographer Clare Keogh to take portraits of the sisters that live and work here. Over the course of the summer, Clare met with the sisters and took their portraits in places that they felt were special. Along with portraits, Clare also recorded interviews with the sisters about their lives and work. The portraits are now on show at Nano Nagle Place and can also be found here 

The title, not to make a noise about it, comes from one of Nano Nagle’s letters, where she describes that when she first opened her secret schools she ‘took in the children by degrees, not to make a noise about it.’ Ever since Nano’s time, Presentation Sisters have been quietly working to help where it is needed, and rarely made a noise about it. This exhibition celebrates the sisters of Nano Nagle Place and the remarkable lives and work.

Pictured in the Secret Courtyard at Nano Nagle Place are Sr Rosarie Lordan, Sr Lucy Lynch, Sr Patricia O’Shea, Sr Lelia Finn, Sr Mary Dinneen and photographer Clare Keogh.

This year Nano Nagle Place is marking 250 years of continual use as a convent. As part of our summer exhibition, we worked with seamstress Sam Wynn to recreate styles of habit that we did’t hold in our archive.

Using a book of rules that described how much fabric was to be used in the habit, and how it was intended to look, Sam was able to remake the habit which the Presentation Sisters began wearing in 1805 until it was modified 1943, when the decision was made to remove the train at the back of the skirt. Along with this oldest style of habit she made a postulant’s dress, which we also didn’t have the oldest version of, a 1950s habit, and a post Vatican II habit.

Hear Sam talking about her work on Changing Habits here …

Thank you to Cork Migrant Centre Co-ordinator Dr Naomi Masheti and the talented seamstress Barivule for sharing her knowledge of how to make the masks.

Here’s the story of The Sanctuary Masks Initiative …

We are so blown away by the positive response that Sanctuary Mask Initiative have received since their appearance on RTE’s Nationwide last night!

Thank you to everyone who has been in touch enquiring about masks, however please note that the masks being made are being reserved for those in extremely vulnerable positions in society, like Direct Provision centres and nursing homes in Cork city and county.

If you would like to learn more about Sanctuary Mask Initiative, how to help or to donate you can visit their social media or their Go Fund Me page!

Cork Migrant Centre Youth Initiative nurtures the resilience of young teenagers living in or just transitioned from Direct Provision centres in Cork. The charity provides free maths grids, homework clubs, and visual and performing arts workshops.

One such workshop is the Hip-Hop class which is comprised of 15-20 young asylum seeking/refugee/migrant youth aged 13-16.  The classes are facilitated by Stevie G, who has a wealth of experience running hip-hop workshops for the vulnerable population in Cork. He is assisted by Andrea Williams, a professional dance instructor who runs her own hip-hop club in Cork.

We got in touch with the mentors of CMC Youth Initiative to ask them about their experiences working with the teens and their thoughts on the BLM movement.


Photo by Clare Keogh


Q: How did you get involved with CMC?

Stevie G: About 3 or 4 years ago there was a meeting called, and various people in the community were asked to volunteer. I had good experience working with teens so it was logical that I helped take this project on!

Andrea: I was invited by Stevie G and Naomi [Masheti, Coordinator of Cork Migrants Centre] who had already been doing some projects with some of the girls. It was more or less 3 years ago. I had a full-time job at the time so I would finish work and come to the centre to be with them and have dance classes. I fell in love straight away with the girls.


Q: What does a typical afternoon with the CMC teens look like (before lockdown)?

Stevie G: We meet up and shoot the breeze and have fun for about 15 minutes, then we get to work, which is also fun! Sometimes it’s a bit mad as Andrea is usually the teacher trying to control them all, but we somehow manage and we certainly miss it now. She is an amazing teacher.

Andrea: It depends a lot on the days, as in the beginning we had 10/15 girls but then the numbers went up with some of the Direct Provisions centres joining us. The maximum I once had in the room was probably nearly 40! They are amazing and have an infinite source of energy which we have to keep up with!

I’m there to teach but I always end up learning from them too. It’s a constant exchange of experiences, hopes, dreams and culture. I called them my baby’s.


Q: Have you had any engagement with the teens during lockdown and what has that been like?

Stevie G: Andrea has done some online zoom dance classes, and we’ve also done some art projects with Shane O’Driscoll of Cork Printmakers and now we are doing a Black Lives Matter mural at Nano Nagle Place with Kate O’Shea steering it with the kids! It’s been good to keep active! Some of them were involved in our CMC Youth Initiative Against Racism too so these last few weeks have been crazy busy! We also visited Millstreet and Macroom to deliver the laptops for the Laptops for Lockdown fundraiser to some of the kids, which was great!

Andrea: Yes, I try to check on them, we also had few online classes and they were also involved in some other art projects with other mentors from the centre. We always keep contact with them and try to make them feel needed and valued.


Photo by Clare Keogh

Q: How do you think the teens have benefited from the after-school programme?

Stevie G: It’s been amazing. When Rayaa first joined us she was about 10 or 11 and even the older ones, like her sister Aaliyah, was only 13. Some of that group have been with me solidly for 3 years and Andrea for nearly all of that time too and the change and maturity has been incredible, and their confidence and self-esteem has definitely benefited. They are all really creative on multiple levels. Andrea and I used talk about this all of the time when we were with them every week, the change has been remarkable.

Andrea: I think they have massively benefited from the program in a sense that is a secure, fun environment where they learn from me, Stevie and the other mentors but they also feel free to create and be themselves.

Their confidence has improved so much, I remember in the beginning most wouldn’t speak or share their opinions but now they feel empowered to speak, create and be what they are, Awesome teenagers!

The key I think is to make them feel comfortable and let them know that they are not any different from other teenagers.


Q: Have the teens taught you anything important during your time with them?

Stevie G: We have both learned a lot about the various backgrounds that these teens have, and it’s helped us understand more about the complexities of their various situations. The two of us are in music and the arts so are pretty tuned in, but we both have learned so much from these youngsters.

Andrea: I think the biggest lesson I learned from them is resilience, how not to give up from your dreams even when all the odds are against you. How to be strong when that’s the only thing left for you to do. They always have a smile for you and that’s what I love about them the most.


Q: Do you have a standout memory/moment from working with the teens?

Stevie G: Our first big show at Africa day in Fitzgerald’s Park was very special but overall I think the best memory was when we first welcomed the guys from Millstreet to a summer camp last year with GMC Beats, and all of the kids from all different backgrounds created original music, dance and other magic for 3 solid days.

Andrea: Besides the laughter and some emotional moments, what stands out for me was a day a group of girls just openly start talking with us about some unfortunate situations that happened to them in life and they felt no one cared. I felt I was doing something big because they trusted me enough to share those, they felt I cared. In general, I have very proud moments with them I will cherish forever.


Q: What is a message you think is important to highlight given the current BLM movement to the people of Cork?

Stevie G: We need to listen to our young people. We need to give them a voice. And we all need to work together and stand strong against hate while continuing to practice and preach love through music, art, dance, conversation and listening.

Andrea: I think people need to acknowledge that racism is not only an American problem, and this is the time for action. With Ireland growing to be a very multicultural country it’s important people see multiculturalism as a normal thing.

In 10-20 years there will be a large number of mixed kids and they need to feel this is their country too. There is no longer a space for intolerance and only education will provide that, it starts at home and schools.


Photo from Stevie G’s Instagram


To find out more about Stevie G and Andrea’s work with the CMC teens, follow them on their social media. To start (or continue) your anti-racism education, follow the link below to a list of resources put together by the Cork Migrant Centre Youth Initiative.

Antiracism Resource List 1

Since Nano Nagle Place has been closed, we have tried to bring some of our museum content into your home! These collection insights profile different object from our museum and archive, giving you some information you might not know! We’ve collated all of our collection insights and will be adding to this blog post in the coming weeks so make sure to follow us on Facebook and Instagram to stay up to date!



This beautiful key has quite an interesting history. For many years the key was thought to open the gate leading from Douglas Street into the convent grounds. This gate would have been quite symbolic to the Presentation Sisters as after profession, this was where novices said goodbye to their family. However the key was never actually tested in this lock!

A theory was put forward that perhaps the key opens the door to the 1771 convent door. The convent is the oldest building on our site, paid for and built to Nano Nagle’s specifications for the Ursuline Sisters whom she had organised to come from France in order to teach in her schools. The door is original to the convent, and although the keyhole on the outside of the door has been covered up over the years, on the inside of the heavy convent door is a large, very intricate lock.

Last August we decided to test our theory with conservator Karen Horton, and our archivist Sr Rosarie. Have a look at our video and see if our theory was correct!



Nano’s Bonnet

This week to mark the anniversary of Nano’s death on the 26th April, we thought we would dive into one of the most important objects in our collection; Nano Nagle’s Bonnet.

The bonnet is made of cotton lawn, and was worn by Nano before her death in 1784. The convent records from the early 1780s describe the dress worn by Nano’s first sisters, the unenclosed ‘Society for Charitable Instruction of the Sacred Heart’, including Nano Nagle, wearing:
‘a black gown plainly made without fashion – over it they wore a black silk handkerchief crossed in front – a plain cap made round which fitted close to the head and a broad black ribbon bound tightly about the head. When going out to attend the schools they wore long mode cloaks, the hoods of which they always threw over the small black bonnets worn by them on these occasions.’ Nano’s bonnet isn’t exactly the same as it once was, in fact it would have been much longer than pictured, however parts of the cap have been snipped from each side of the headpiece to send to new Presentation convents opening around the world, and we aren’t sure how much! Thank you to conservator Karen Horton who made sure the bonnet impeccably preserved for future generations to see!

Today bonnet is located in the 1771 convent in our Artefacts Room. This room houses a living collection of objects of devotion to Nano Nagle, which was only fully locked behind glass in 2017! Each object has had a life of its own, each object has a personal connection to Nano and her convent. Once we reopen to the public, why not join our daily guided tours and see Nano’s bonnet along with the rest of our collection in our Heritage Centre!


Glass Sculpture

We’re giving a different insight into our collection and looking to the stunning glass sculptures by Nano’s Tomb created by Eoin Turner. Anyone who has visited Nano Nagle Place has surely seen this amazing sculpture…but do you know the inspiration behind it?

In Eoin’s own words, he was inspired by “the history of Nano Nagle herself, the South Presentation order in general and its worldwide influence on education in society. With regards to the water element I used the 3 major locations throughout Nano’s life all linked to water; The Blackwater, The Seine in Paris and the Lee in Cork. Water of course is very much a spiritual significance in terms of it being a fundamental life-force. Water also comes into play in her travels. Nano traveling from Cork to the world, travel back then of course by sea and land to the furthest out reaches of the world. It is also site specific, water is used to create a harmonious and peaceful presence. So the element of water present within the work links to that physical element.” An amazing piece of sculpture which truly ties together Nano’s history, her influence and the space itself! We hope you visit the sculpture when we reopen and experience it for yourself! You can find more of Eoin’s work on his website:


Portrait of Garret Nagle

Here we have a portrait of Nano’s father Garret Nagle. This portrait (artist unknown) is on display in our Artefacts Room and shows Garret Nagle (d. 1746) wearing a magnificent cobalt blue coat and standing in front of an open window. Behind Garret through the window, we can make out a body of water and a ship on the horizon. This ship is most likely a reference to Garret’s frequent journeys to the continent, for political business or trade.

Cork’s coastline and large natural harbor facilitated a lucrative business of smuggling contraband goods and passengers (indeed Nano and her sister Ann were smuggled on a cargo ship bound for France to receive further education). It also enabled the legitimate business of Munster Catholic merchants to flourish in trading overseas and members of the Nagles began to participate in maritime trade. Therefore we can understand from this portrait that Garret was involved in maritime trade.

An interesting thing to note is that this portrait was found within Joseph’s snuff box, possibly alluding to the fact that Joseph carried this portrait of his brother and had the ability to look at it when he missed him or after Garret had died. This also gives us an indication that these brothers were close, indeed after Garret’s death, Uncle Joseph supported Nano like a father, giving her support and money to keep her schools going and build the 1771 convent.

Philpot Lane Door

Nano set up seven schools which stretched across Cork city, one of those schools somewhere on Philpot Lane. Philpot Lane lies just off Shandon St and Nano would have walked there every day from Cove Lane (Douglas St) to visit each of her schools. After Nano’s death, Number 2 Philpot Lane became the first home of the North Presentation Sisters, and this was their front door!

The Sisters who moved in 1799 following their training in South Presentation, probably lived in the upstairs rooms in Philpot Lane. The ground floor accommodated the schoolroom for the children. Life was difficult: the Sisters were often penniless and in dire straits. Young women joined the Sisters, spaces were inadequate and Bishop Moylan assisted in finding space for a new convent and school. A site in Mallow Lane, (now Gerald Griffin Street) was acquired and more than 1,000 children attended the first enrollment in Mallow Lane.

The hatch/grill seen on the door was safety measure, necessary to ensure the one being admitted was a friend. Remember the Penal Laws were still in place, this hatch acts as an enduring relic of dangerous times when discovery of a Convent or Catholic school could bring severe retribution.

In the 1980’s the door was thrown into a skip on the street, ready to be brought to the local landfill site. Sr. Eucharia Buckley from North Presentation Convent saw it there and asked the builder if she could have it. He joked it would cost her €250 but very kindly donated it to her. It was kept in North Presentation convent for safekeeping where it remained in storage, until it was moved to the Nano Nagle Place museum!


Account Book

The account book of Nano’s convent on Douglas Street, which she built between 1777-80, gives us a window on the stuff of everyday life and everyday expenses in eighteenth-century Cork. Each page constitutes around a year’s spending.

You will see that the greatest sums of money are spent on food. We are seeing a year’s worth of expenditure on food here, for a small convent with fewer than 15 occupants. In an age before mass production and mechanised farming, products like Meat, Bread, Butter, Fish and Eggs were expensive – the cost of meat for the year 1801-1802 of £84.5.3. equates to €7126.47 today.

Tea, sugar, pepper and mustard were imported luxury items, not yet the staples of every day life.

Coals were expensive too, but would have constituted the only means of heating the house and cooking. At the time of writing the sisters were in dire straits, with little financial support for their convent. Thus the candles they bought were most likely tallow candles rather than (less smelly and smoky) beeswax candles.

Several entries stand out as those of a convent with a mission to care for the poor. Wine and breads for the altar appear in the accounts, as do ‘Plaster and eye water for the poor’ and ‘wine and medicine for the sick’.

Wine and drink appear several times – drink may have been small beer, which many people would have drank as a staple of their diet. Wine, brandy and coffee also appear – these were expensive items, but only £3.10.0. is spent on them, suggesting very little was bought – since this equates to €296 in today’s money, which still wouldn’t procure very much wine, brandy and coffee!

Servants wages appear, which may seem surprising, but many of the sisters who joined Nano in her new religious congregation, and indeed Nano herself, were from an gentry backgrounds and would have had little idea of how to cook. The sisters were busy women, teaching in schools across the city as well as caring for the poor and sick, and observing their religious devotions. It would have been quite normal at the time that a convent or large household would have several servants.

A number of taxes can be seen in the accounts, including taxes for hearths and windows. Window tax consisted of two parts, a standard payment and then a payment calculated on the number of windows in the building. The number of windows allowed before tax was charged varied considerably over time. At the time our accounts were made the standard payment was a variable rate based on the value of the property. The number of windows over which tax was incurred was seven. Recent research, based on these rates, suggests that Nano’s convent had 12 windows.

Finally, the winding of the clock appears in the accounts. The annual cost of this weekly service may have been as much as £300 per year in today’s money. In may households, the clock would have been wound by a butler, suggesting that the sisters didn’t have a male servant of this rank. The clock that was wound is still wound once per week at Nano Nagle Place, and it chimes on the hour. A tangible link between Nano’s account book and Nano Nagle Place today.

Uncle Joseph’s Snuff Box

Joseph Nagle (d.1757) was the younger brother of Garret Nagle of Ballygriffin, Nano’s father. Like many younger sons of the landed class, he went into the law and became an attorney. Garret and Joseph Nagle were the most powerful and outspoken Catholic family in the first half of the 18th century in Cork. They were lobbyists for the Catholic cause, exerting political pressure where they could to have the Penal Laws eased, and ultimately reversed.

The Penal Laws were designed to impact the power of powerful Catholic families like the Nagles. They targeted inheritance, so that Catholic landed estates would be broken up. Joseph Nagle actively worked to prevent this from happening through his abilities to manipulate the law. As Louis Cullen tells that many Catholic families ‘owed their survival to Joseph Nagle, who drew up their leases and defended them in the law courts.’

In his older years Joseph lived at Northcliffe, a house in Blackrock that still stands today. He was a generous supporter of Nano’s work in life and in death, leaving her a fortune in his will.

Within our collection is Uncle Joseph’s snuff box, a small ornate box used to hold powdered tobacco. During the 18th Century the consumption of snuff was favoured by nobility, and snuff boxes were produced to keep it dry and easily transportable. Snuff boxes was a bespoke possession usually made up of a variety of materials like gold, silver or tortoise shell. The box belonging to Uncle Joseph was a pocket box, usually made to hold a small amount of snuff, intended to contain a day or two’s supply. However Uncle Joseph made an interesting modification to his snuff box. Joseph cut down a miniature portrait of his brother Garret and placed it in the lid of his snuff box, the equivalent, perhaps, of having him as your mobile screen saver today! The closeness of the relationship between Joseph and his brother Garret is clear through this small gesture.

Penal Chalice

The first Penal Laws were passed in Ireland in 1695, and were designed to keep Catholics in a position of economic, social, political and religious inferiority. Among other things, Catholics were prohibited from teaching or running schools, from buying or inheriting land from Protestants, from practicing law, holding office in local or central government and from serving in the army or navy. Only priests registered with the authorities were permitted to remain in Ireland. Priest hunters were employed to arrest unregistered priests!

The Penal Chalice is an object which speaks of the fear and ingenuity of the Catholic people from this era in Ireland’s history. Although illegal, mass was still practiced in secret. In rural areas they were often held at Mass Rocks, a rock used as an altar during the Penal times. Isolated locations were sought to hold religious ceremonies, as observing the Catholic Mass was a matter of difficulty and danger. Because the activity was illegal, the services were not scheduled and parishioners would be obliged to spread the word of them informally. Penal chalices were used for these secret masses. A lead weight has been attached to the base of the chalice to provide stability if it was placed on an altar stone.

The chalice can be unscrewed into three separate pieces, enabling it to be easily concealed. Of course large crowds of people would have garnered suspicion, so if the law or any priest hunters came around, the chalice could be distributed amongst the congregation and hidden quickly. Quite a clever way to avoid prosecution!

We’re delighted to share this video of Nano Nagle Place, featuring MC Ger Canning, blessings by the three Bishops of Cork and speeches by Lord Mayor of Cork Cllr Tony Fitzgerald, former President of Ireland Dr Mary McAleese, Congregational Leader of the Presentation Sisters Union Sr Mary Deane and Chairman of the Nano Nagle Place Board Jim Corr.

It should be available here very soon:


You might enjoy reading about the launch in both The Irish Examiner and The Irish Times


The inspiring story of Nano Nagle, engagingly told, is at the heart of our heritage experience here at Nano Nagle Place

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