Illustrated Catholic Family Annual – Miss Fionora Nagle

illustration of Miss Fionora Nagle from the 1874 Illustrated Catholic Family Annual, artist unknownArticle

Miss Nagle was born at Ballygriffin (on the banks of the Blackwater), near Mallow, County of Cork, in 1728. Her father, Garrett Nagle, was of the family of Sir Richard Nagle, Knight, county attorney-general and Speaker of House of Commons in the Parliament of James II, which sat in Dublin in 1689. Miss Nagle was sent to Paris to be educated, and, when her course was finished, she remained on a visit with some friends there, and, being of a lively disposition, entered freely into the gaieties of Paris.

It was while returning with a companion, a Frenchwoman, early one spring morning in 1750, at the age of twenty-two, from one of the most fashionable salons of Paris, that Miss Nagle was inspired, so to say, with an idea of the work she ought to do, and which has proved to be a great work indeed. As their carriage lumbered along the streets of Paris, the young lady’s attention was attracted by a crowd of poor people standing at the yet unopened door of a parish church, waiting for admission in order to hear Mass before entering on their day’s work. The young lady was forcibly struck with the hard lot of these children of toil. It was the turning-point of her life. Her thoughts were from that moment changed, and naturally turned to her native land, then groaning under the weight of persecution for conscience sake – its religion proscribed, its altars overturned, its children denied education at home under grievous penalties. She fervently commended the matter to God, and took the advice of learned and pious ecclesiastics, and went ahead with her good work. At first she established schools for poor girls in Cork, and finally established a convent of Ursulines in September, 1771, and this is the date of the establishment of the Ursuline Order in Ireland.

Miss Nagle also established the Order of Presentation Nuns for the special object of educating poor children. This Society commenced its work on Christmas Day, 1777. She also established an asylum for aged females ; and the splendid building in the neighborhood of the South Presentation Convent, Cork, is the result of her work. She died on 26 April 1784, surrounded by her little community, to whom, on being urged to say something, she addressed, as her last exhortation, the words: “Love one another as you have hitherto done.” She calmly expired in the fifty-sixth year of her age, and the thirtieth of her heroic career of charity. There are now in Ireland fifty convents of the Presentation Order.

MLA Citation

  • “Miss Fionora Nagle”. Illustrated Catholic Family Annual, 1874. CatholicSaints.Info. 17 January 2017. Web. 23 March 2017. <>