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Nano Nagle – The Life and the Legacy

News Update

Our wonderful book published in the tercentenary year of Nano Nagle’s birth (2018) – ‘Nano Nagle: the Life and the Legacy’ has just been shortlisted (Sept 2020) as Best New Book by the History of Education (UK) Society and in mid September 2020 it has been reviewed in the premier Irish historical journal, Irish Historical Studies where they describe it as ‘a meticulously researched book’.  As Professor Deirdre Raftery wrote, when sharing this good news with us:

“These [recognitions] all help to foreground your history, and position it centrally in Irish history and in the   history of education.  All credit to the PBVMs, that they have such extensive and important archives, going back to their inception!  As the saying goes, ‘no archives, no history’”. 

About the book

Within Nano Nagle’s story is a greater one: that of the Irish female diaspora in Newfoundland, India, North America, England, Australia, Africa and the Philippines.  ‘Nano Nagle – The Life and the Legacy’ throws open a new window on an unknown aspect of Irish social history, while also demonstrating Ireland’s significant contribution to the global history of female education.

The publication of ‘Nano Nagle – the Life and the Legacy’ is particularly fitting in this the tercentenary of Nano Nagle’s birth (1718).  This book provides the first authoritative biographical study of Nano Nagle as founder of the Presentation Sisters.  It positions her within Irish social history, and assesses her vast international legacy.

The launch of this wonderful new book (with rare and previously unpublished illustrations) took place in Nano Nagle Place Douglas Street, Cork.

Deirdre Raftery (leading education historian), with Catríona Delany and Catherine Nowlan-Roebuck have produced not only a vital new biographical study of an exceptional Irish woman, but also a study of thousands of Irish women who joined the Presentation Sisters and taught in their schools all over the world.

The book explores Nano’s roots and upbringing in 18th century North Cork, through to her formative education in Paris, and then onward to her pioneering work in education and ministry with ‘those made poor’.  This content draws on archival materials from three continents:

… and provides a compelling account of how one woman’s extraordinary life challenged social constraints and championed social justice and equality.  

About the authors

Deirdre Raftery is a Professor of the history of education, at the School of Education, University College Dublin.  She is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, and has held visiting fellowships at several universities, including the University of Oxford and the University of Cambridge.  A Fulbright Alumna, Deirdre has eleven book publications and has contributed to television and radio documentaries in Ireland and the United Kingdom (UK).  Her work on the history of women religious has won her several awards: (Irish Research Council; Ireland-Canada University Foundation and the University of Notre Dame Hibernian Award).

Catríona Delaney is a graduate of the University of Limerick, where she completed her PhD at the Department of History.  She is currently the Nano Nagle Postdoctoral Fellow at the School of Education, University College Dublin.  Catríona has written for scholarly journals including History of Education, Irish Educational Studies, and Irish Studies Review, and has presented at international conferences in Germany, Scotland and England.

Catherine Nowlan-Roebuck completed her PhD in the history of education at University College Dublin, which examined the involvement of the Presentation Sisters in Irish education in the nineteenth century.  She has contributed articles to publications such as History of Education, and chapters in books including: Education, Identity and Women Religious (1800-1950), edited by Deirdre Raftery and Elizabeth M. Smyth (2016) and Nano Nagle and An Evolving Charism edited by Bernadette Flanagan, Mary T. O’Brien and Anne M. O’Leary (2017).

Nano Nagle – The Life and the Legacy
~ Deirdre Raftery with Catríona Delaney and Catherine Nowlan-Roebuck


  1.  Finding Nano: Researching an Enigmatic Irish woman and Her Legacy
  2. Nano Nagle: Her Life and Times
  3. Founding and Funding: The Establishment of a Network of Irish Convents
  4. The Presentations in Newfoundland: The First Foundation Outside Ireland
  5. Presentation Education: Pupils and Pedagogy in the Nineteenth Century
  6. Schools for the Starving: Presentation Education Before and After the Great Famine
  7. The Presentation Sisters and Education in England
  8. The Presentation Sisters and Second-Level Education in Ireland, 1800-1858
  9. ‘Service to the Kingdom’: Expansion in Britain
  10. The Global Reach of Presentation Education

This publication is available on line from www.iap.ie and direct from bookshops (RRP €24.99).

Note: the content of this article is based on the content of the Press Release by Irish Academic Press.



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