Letter from Nano Nagle to Miss Mary Angela Fitzsimons 28 September 1770


Letter from Nano Nagle to Miss Mary Angela Fitzsimons 28 September 1770


Penal Laws, Catholicism, Ursulines, Nano Nagle, education, poverty, poor, eighteenth century


Letter written from Nano Nagle, Cove Lane, Cork to Miss Mary Angela Fitzsimons, Ursuline monastery, Rue St. Jacques, Paris.

Fr. [Patrick] Doran, is ‘eager’ for the prompt departure of Miss Fitzsimons and the other novices from Paris, as he anticipates future opposition from the 'French lady' [Mother Superior Peiti de St. Joseph].

In preparation for the novices arrival, Nano has organised the construction of a new house. She promises to supply them with every necessary in her power, bearing in mind the limitations of being ‘in a country [in which] we can’t do as we please’.


Nano Nagle


Ursuline Convent archive, Blackrock, Co.Cork


Sisters of the Irish Ursuline Union




Caroline Maguire, National University of Ireland, Maynooth


Property of the archive of the Ursuline Convent, Blackrock, Cork












Paris, France
Cork, Ireland

Original Format



‘I was sorry it was not in my power sooner to tell you how much I am obliged to you for not standing on ceremony with me and being so good as to write to me so often of late, though I could not answer your kind favours as punctually as I wished to do. I believe you'll attribute my silence to the real cause, which is want of time.


I can't express the joy I had to hear of Miss Kavanagh['s] resolution and that she had joined you. It was what you ambitioned this long time past. If once we were fixed, the object in view is so great that I dare say many would follow your and her example. I had little reason when first I thought of this Foundation to expect the success it has already had met. I must say, every disappointment we have had the Almighty has been pleased to make it turn out to our advantage; though my impatience very often made [me] not submit to His divine Will as I ought. I believe we are obligated to your worthy friend for this young lady['s] [determination] to come here. We are happy, I think, to have one of the sisters. I am not surprised at what you mention to me in regard of Mr. Kavanagh, for he and his lady by some conjectures of their own was sure Miss Nano intended coming here. As for my part, I could not say anything that gave the least notion that she was [so] inclined; nor did I flatter myself by what the clergyman then told me of her that she would; and I must do her brother and sister justice, they did not seem at all angry with her for it. I dare say she will be still of great service to us by her prayers.

I can't avoid telling you how eager Mr. Doran is for your coming over soon, as he forsees [sic] they will every day be starting some new difficulties on account of the French lady—which is already the case and was made an objection when Mrs. B. got leave to come. And he wrote to his nephew [Dr Moylan] the many reasons by which it makes it so necessary to have this establishment begun as soon as possible, as he and I are sure by the character you give of this lady that she is not one of those modern religious persons who think every inconveniency such a cross that there is no bearing it. She that makes such a sacrifice for the good of souls will have fortitude to make light, I hope, of not having everything settled as comfortably as it ought to be.


One could not imagine in a house so lately built that the walls would be so dry as they are, nor can one judge of them till they are plastered, and when the plaster dries immediately, it's owing to the walls being so. Had I not seen it had this effect on it, I could not have believed it. You'll find it will be very habitable this winter, which I did not think it would be. And when you are settled there, I shall be to blame if I don't get every necessary that is thought wanting, as there is nothing in my power I shan't endeavour to do. And I hope you'll be so good as to excuse, in the beginning, all, and consider we are in a country [in which] we can't do as we please. By degrees with the assistance of God we may do a great deal. As I think by what your …..[1]


[1] T.J. Walsh, Nano Nagle and the Presentation Sisters (Dublin, 1959), p. 354.



Nano Nagle , “Letter from Nano Nagle to Miss Mary Angela Fitzsimons 28 September 1770,” Welcome to the Nano Nagle letters, accessed May 20, 2024, https://ursulinesisters.omeka.net/items/show/10.