Nano Nagle

Not words but deeds

Nano Nagle was born in Ballygriffin, County Cork, Ireland in 1718. Nano’s family once owned extensive lands, but much was forfeited because they retained their Catholic faith during times of religious persecution. In her early teens, Nano was smuggled abroad to France where she lived with relatives. Here she attended a Benedictine convent school – her first acquaintance with nuns. Her French relatives were wealthy, and Nano enjoyed a busy social life.

On her return to Ireland, she took up works of charity, caring for the sick and elderly people in their homes. She travelled the city streets with her lantern to light her way at night. It was said that there was not an attic or tenement room in Cork that she did not know.

On her journeys through the city streets Nano became very aware of the plight of the children, particularly the girls. Many were undernourished and forced to do the most menial work to survive. Many too, were ill-treated and abused. Nano secretly rented rooms in various parts of the city and started classes for these children. Her uncle, a lawyer, was appalled when he discovered what she had done, realising the implications if it became known to the authorities. But he agreed with her and helped her financially.

On 26 April 1784, Nano Nagle collapsed on a Cork street while doing her rounds. She died soon afterwards, aged 66.


Heritage and Formation of Notre Dame.pdf


What is it in Nano Nagle that continues to inspire you?