An Irish religious order will unveil a €10m plan today to preserve its first convent — founded in Cork in the 18th century — and develop it as a heritage and visitor centre.
Nano Nagle founded the order in Cork in 1775. For centuries, the
3.75-acre site in Cork, which features buildings dating back to 1771, a
walled garden, a graveyard and the tomb of Nano Nagle, has attracted
visitors from all over the world.
Now the order wants to preserve the site and develop it in a way which
will make it a unique visitor attraction and an integral part of the
Cork City Historic Tourist Trail.
The development will include a new heritage centre, an archives
building, visitor facilities, and a cafeteria in the convent’s tranquil
The order said the new centre, which will be called Nano Nagle Place,
will be revitalised as a sustainable resource to be shared with the
people of Cork.
Details of a limited company which has been formed and registered as a
charity to oversee the ambitious project will be announced today.
The company board includes three voluntary lay people and three Presentation Sisters.
It will be chaired by FG Cllr Jim Corr, Cork city’s longest serving
councillor and a former teacher in Presentation College. Its day-to-day
operations will be managed by chief executive Michael O’Sullivan.
Sr Bride Given, a Presentation Sister and company secretary, said they
consider South Presentation as a very special and sacred place.
“We regard Nano Nagle’s tomb as an important shrine,” she said.
“However, we don’t see it as ours alone, but as a place of inspiration
for the whole community, and for all our Sisters.”
Board director Joe Casey said they hope to preserve and re-invigorate
the story of Nano Nagle and the Presentation Congregation.
“These are changing times not just for the Presentation Order, but for all religious orders,” he said.
“The Sisters and the whole Presentation Community consider it essential
that the values and ethos of Nano Nagle are carried into the future.
“It is also to reconcile the spiritual ethos of this site with multi-functional social, cultural and educational initiatives.
“This transformation will be fully in keeping with best international
practice of converting sacred spaces, such as abbeys, monasteries and
convents for wider community use.”
The board is finalising the development proposals and hopes to lodge a
planning application soon. Pending the planning process, it is hoped
that work on the site will start towards the middle of the year. It will
be financed through the Presentation global congregation and it is
expected that the re-development will take two years.
Mr Corr said they will engage with the local community, and update people regularly on the process.