Nano Nagle

Not Words But Deeds

Nano Nagle : Woman of the Millennium
Nano Nagle : Woman of the Millennium

Who is Nano Nagle?

Nano (Honoria) Nagle was born in Ballygriffin, Country Cork, Ireland in 1718. She was the foundress of the Presentation Sisters and pioneer of Catholic education in Ireland.

Her family were devout Catholics who had managed to hold on to their land in penal times, when landownership and education were forbidden to Catholics. They were connected to some of the most prominent families in Munster and their ancestors had lived in the area for hundreds of years.

Nano was educated in Paris and enjoyed an active social life. The family had relatives in Paris and Nano lived with them for some years to escape the persecution of Catholics in her homeland. While enjoying the social life and the freedom that living in Paris allowed, Nano maintained a strong faith and sense of social justice.

Between 1746 and 1748 Nano's life was marked by grief. Having returned to Ireland to be with her family,she now had to endure the death of both her parents and her sister Ann. Nano returned to Paris and entered a convent.

During her time in the convent Nano struggled with the problem of what to do about the poor in Ireland. She prayed, she consulted, she sought advice from the more eminent for their experience, they unanimously declared that to instruct poor children in Ireland was doubtless the object of Nano's vocation.

Nano's School

Finally Nano decided that she could be of more use to the poor by actively helping them rather than by prayer alone. She returned to Cork, Ireland in 1750 to set up the first of her schools. It was based in Cove Lane and although Catholic schools were illegal at that time it soon had several hundred pupils.

Although it was not unusual for ladies, Catholic or Protestant, to interest themselves in charitable activities in Ireland at that time, they usually did so from the safety of their parlours or committee rooms. Nano's first school was a mud cabin in a very poor part of town.

Nano Nagle spent all of her considerable fortune on establishing schools for the poor of the Cork. In the school the children were taught to pray, work, read and write. Nano lived with her brother and his family who supported her charitable works and who often pleaded with her to reduce her efforts as her health was suffering.

Nano's lantern has become a symbol for the work that she did and for the light of education that she brought into the lives of the poor and the destitute.
Nano's lantern has become a symbol for the work that she did and for the light of education that she brought into the lives of the poor and the destitute.

The Lady with the Lantern

In the evenings after her schools were closed, Nano was a familiar sight in the city's dark and dangerous streets, seeking out the hungry, the homeless and the elderly. With her lantern in hand, she tended to anyone who was in need, but particularly to destitute women.

By 1770 Nano and her supporters had decided that a religious foundation was necessary to ensure the permanence of her project to educate the poor. Nano set up her own sisterhood. It was the first female religious group in Ireland to combine religious life with systematic; charitable works.

In 1783 Nano established a home for aged and destitute women and she asked her companion to personally tend to the needs of these women. By 1784, Nano's health was very poor yet she continued to walk the streets giving aid to the poor and hungry.

Nano died from tuberculosis on April 26th at the age of 65.

The Presentation Sisters

The religious group of women who has chosen to work with Nano eventually became the Presentation Sisters in 1805, 21 years after Nano's death. The order expand rapidly, as it did in the 19th century. By the late eighteenth century the Order had spread to England, Scotland, America,India and Australia.

The founding story of Nano Nagle is still taught in all Presentation Sisters convents. She is always known simply as Nano Nagle never by the religious name she adopted in 1776.

Her historical importance lies in the fact that she was the first woman in Ireland to set up a women religious group to run projects which catered mainly for poor females. The schools provided girls with survival skills and resources they could not otherwise have acquired.

Nano's motto was 'All for God's poor'. She often said.

"If I could be of service in saving souls in any part of the world I would gladly do all in my power. Where there is a need I will go."

The Nano Nagle Prayer

Read More About Nano Nagle

  • Nano Nagle

    A short article about the life of Nano Nagle.

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Comments 33 comments

trisha  7 years ago

thank you very much it helped me in my assignment. God Bless!

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MJoyce 7 years ago from Australia Author

I enjoy putting this hub together, I am glad I was able to be of help in your assignment. The life of Nano Nagle is a very inspiring story. I hope more women in today's society will be inspired by her story.

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Gypsy Willow 7 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand

This is truly an inspiring story. I had never heard of her til now, thank you.

anam 6 years ago

its such an inspiring story i tell ya

kiffy Shannon 6 years ago

I am a direct decsendent of Nano Nagle. She was a great great great Aunt. I have an Aunt named Nano and a sister Nano. My birht name was Kathleen Mary Nagle.

st ursulas girl 6 years ago

she is the creator of our school in australia

st patricks sutherland  6 years ago

nano founded st pat's sutherland and we named a playground after her

nano rox

breanna 6 years ago

This is a lovely story. It's very interesting. Thanks for putting this site up, it helped me with my assignment a lot as well =)

Thank you all and God Bless!!! =D

faia 6 years ago

Thanks for putting this site up. It had all the information I needed. Thanks again.

KelseyHynes 6 years ago

thanks a mill this really helped with my religeon project .. how did you know so much about nano if u live in australia ? i live in ireland where nano is from :)

Kate 6 years ago

thank you for your help, i hve now been able to finish my r.e assessment.

AoifeeBaybee 6 years ago

Nano Naglee Inspires Meeh :))

reginio frederick 6 years ago

i like this article i too came from a school run by the presentation sisters

stephanie 6 years ago

This was a lot of help for my religion assignment.

I was able to find a lot of information that other sites didn't have.

anne kellegher 6 years ago

I played Nano Nagle in our school play back in 1977 at Limerick Presentation Convent and for years I was know to all my friends as Nano. I still use the Nano Nagle as my e-mail address over 30 years on!! :)

Mayla 6 years ago


Some of the Presentation Sisters of the Blessed Virgin Mary Congregation in the Philippines (one of the congregations of The Blessed Nano Nagle) are my friends and can't tell you enough how much it delighted me that you have this post published. Thank you and may God bless us all.

Just an FYI, i'd like to share the homepage of the Presentation sisters, my friends, in case you might want to check more information about Blessed Nano Nagle:

I have also shared your site in my post as linked to the url I have provided. Thank you very much.

I am .... 5 years ago

I thought this was really helpful and CLEAR!! FINALLY!! a website that has good information. This is really good info for my report im doing THANKYOU!!!

Shawina Emmanuel 5 years ago

I read about this sister, I feel so proud that my daughter is studying one of her school in Pakistan.

I think in today's time we need people like nano nagle who change generations.

Excellent work!!!!!!!!!!

sharina iqbal 5 years ago

nano nagle is very good lady i like her she is the fonderous of my schooli pray for her thankyou

Mia 4 years ago

Thank-you so so so so much I just completed an assignment that is due tomorrow.

hina yousaf 4 years ago

i love you. thanks for telling nanos life it was rally fantastic i love nano nagle god bless nano

Angela Njazi 4 years ago

I attended a school founded by presentation sisters in Zimbabwe Nagle house. Nano's story is so inspiring and have touched many lives. Thank you Nano Nagle!!

Amelia 4 years ago

it helped me a lot thank you

bucko 4 years ago

blake rocks and thank you for the information

beco buckle 4 years ago

Thank you for the information so much!!! it helped with my assessment a lot.


beco buckle 4 years ago

thankyou nano nagle for giving other people education

God bless nano nagle

copy cat 4 years ago

Thanx 4 the information it help me a lot with my assignment

i went 2 1 of her schools.

this is a website

cooky head 4 years ago

i like the info

i am awesome

tee hee


Gem C :P 4 years ago

I like this website very much so i decided to copy it and share it with other people :P :P :P

nano nagle 4 years ago

wow...the story is the insperission!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Laura bury 3 years ago

I am in 1st yr in presentation Skool Wexford

marwa batool 3 years ago

i like this website it help me so much thank u

alegria 3 years ago

i too came from a school run by presentation sisters,

so this website is a great help for me...thanks a lot!!!...

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