In this digital age handwritten letters are a precious and rare thing, and even more precious, because of this rarity. Letters continue to communicate the considerations, thought and care of the author even years after, to a different readership from that originally intended. There is something incredibly moving that happens each time one sees the penned signature from the hand of Nano Nagle, even after all these years..
The launch of the digital collection
Friday, 8 June 2018 (the Feast of the Sacred Heart) was a really momentous occasion for anyone who wishes to explore and discover the woman and foundress of the Sisters of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary (PBVM). On this date a Nano Nagle Digital Project and Tercentenary Exhibition was launched by Dr. Deirdre Raftery of University College Dublin. The launch formed part of a three-day Summer School in Archives 2018 which took place at Nano Nagle Place, Cork, from 7-9 June.
To coincide with the Tercentenary of the Birth of Nano Nagle, the Congregational Leadership Team of the Presentation Sisters (Union), had sponsored a piece of comprehensive research which included the digitisation of the entire collection of the Letters of Nano Nagle, and a short online exhibition on the early foundations of the Presentation Sisters prior to 1800.
The digital collection comprises of seventeen manuscript letters; the letters are from Nano Nagle to Eleanor Fitzsimons (later Sr. Angela Fitzsimons), an Irish religious novice in Paris, and from Nano Nagle to Teresa Mulally, educator of the poor, in Dublin.
You can access the digital collection at https://digital.ucd.ie/view/ucdlib:153347
This collection represents a digital reunification of the surviving letters. The material is collated from three separate archival collections:
- the Presentation Sisters Congregational Archives, Cork (PSCA);
- the archives of the Presentation Convent, George’s Hill, Dublin;
- and the Presentation Archives, San Francisco, USA.
The original letters
The originals of the surviving letters of Honora (Nano) Nagle (1718-1784) who brought the Ursuline congregation to Ireland, before founding Presentation are held
in a number of archives: Presentation Sisters Congregational Archive, Nano Nagle Place, Douglas Street, Cork, Ireland ; Presentation Convent, George’s Hill, Dublin 7, Ireland ; Presentation Archives, San Francisco, California, USA ; Presentation Convent, New Windsor, New York, USA.
Within the PSCA, there are letters originally belonging to the Archives of the Ursuline Convent, Blackrock, Cork; these letters were gifted to the Irish Presentation Sisters on the occasion of the tercentenary of the birth of Nano Nagle (2018). There is also one letter that was gifted by the Presentation Convent, New Windsor, USA, on the occasion of the tercentenary.
Note: This Digital Project forms part of a larger PhD research project on Nano Nagle and Presentation schools being conducted by Deirdre Bennett.