Following a €10.5 million redevelopment of the former site of the South Presentation Convent and School, Nano Nagle Place is now an unexpected oasis in the centre of bustling Cork City, named after the Presentation Congregation founder and Ireland’s pioneer of Catholic education Nano Nagle. Plans for this new lease of life for the historic site on Douglas Street in Cork City were unveiled at an event on the site in February 2014.
The redevelopment transformed the historic 18th century site, and today Nano Nagle Place houses an impressive heritage centre, tranquil gardens and Nano Nagle’s tomb (free to the public), a garden café, a design shop, education spaces, the Lantern Project, and Cork Migrants community inclusion projects. It is also home to a small resident community of Presentation Sisters, and the beautifully regenerated 1779 convent building holds the archives of the Congregation.
Speaking at the opening, former President of Ireland, Dr Mary McAleese spoke of about how proud we should be of our heritage and of people like Nano Nagle. She said "Now they have remade this place as a living showcase of the depth and breadth of Nano Nagle’s work, a place where the history she made is told and the work of care continues in these changed times. Congratulations to all those who worked to bring new life to the magnificent heritage buildings on this site and to complement them with the fine new structures.”
The launch of Nano Nagle Place was a packed event attended by invited guests from the Cork community including neighbours and former students. RTE’s Ger Canning, a former teacher at the South Presentation Secondary School from 1973-1990, was the MC for the launch and spoke of his time there saying “I am honoured to have been asked to MC this event and to be associated with Nano Nagle Place. I have such fond memories of this place and am delighted to see the amazing transformation it has undergone.”
Lord Mayor of Cork, Cllr Tony Fitzgerald echoed Ger Canning’s sentiments and highlighted some of the key benefits Nano Nagle Place will bring to the Cork community: “Nano Nagle Place is a fabulous addition to the Cork City Historic Tourist Trail. It houses an incredible and globally famous story which will attract people from around the world. Nano Nagle Place is situated in the heart of Cork’s South Parish and I know the surrounding community are proud that the legacy of such a great Cork woman is now going to be celebrated and shared with future generations.”
Chairman of Nano Nagle Place, Jim Corr extended special thanks to all those involved in bringing this project to fruition: “Today marks a very special day as we officially open Nano Nagle Place - a sacred place celebrating Nano Nagle’s vision of empowerment through education, community inclusion and spiritual engagement for a contemporary world. Special thanks to all involved, in particular the Presentation Sisters and my fellow Board members. Nano Nagle Place is now a place of heritage, reflection and welcome, attracting visitors to the region from far and wide, as well as playing a vital role in the local community as a sustainable community resource.”
The event also saw Presentation Sisters travel from all over Ireland and the world to attend the official launch. Speaking at the event, Sr Mary Deane, Congregational Leader of the Presentation Sisters Union spoke about how far the Presentation Sisters have come and what Nano Nagle Place means to them: “The timing of the official opening of Nano Nagle Place could not be more apt as in 2018 we will celebrate the tercentenary of the birth of Nano Nagle. Today we celebrate the transformation that is Nano Nagle Place. It is truly amazing and we are grateful to so many who have made this possible. Nano Nagle Place holds the vision and the dream that honours the past and yet is an expression of our living heritage. It is a prophetic witness of the power of Nano’s story and our story in finding new ways to respond to the needs of our world today in order to be a sign of hope for the future.”
Nano Nagle Place is open seven days a week from 10am to 5pm, including Sundays and Bank Holidays. It is free to visit Nano Nagle’s tomb, and the gardens; while interactive heritage experience tells the story of 18th Century Cork, Nano Nagle’s inspiring work and the lives and work of the Presentation Sisters over time, and today.
For further information please visit www.nanonagleplace.ie.