Letter from Nano Nagle to Miss Mary Angela Fitzsimons [Spring] 1770


Letter from Nano Nagle to Miss Mary Angela Fitzsimons [Spring] 1770


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


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

Nano expresses her hope that the former mistress of the Ursuline monastery, [Ms. Marguérite Langier de Beaucourt, who had served until 1769], will assist in the establishment of a religious foundation in Cork.

In preparation for this foundation, Nano advises Miss Fitzsimons to take advantage of her training in the Ursuline monastery and learn what is ‘proper to teach young ladies’.


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












Cork, Ireland
Paris, France
England, United Kingdom
West Indies

Original Format



‘As I always reflect on myself how many faults I have. How happy she was to have such a pious turn so early in life and to have let herself be directed by that great servant of God, your former mistress, who I long to know whether she will do that meritorious action as to settle this foundation. Her zeal is great. I am sure if she does it, she may be compared to the grain [of] mustard seed in the Gospel. Though our house is the least in the Order, has it in our power to do more good than any; and the good seed she will sow will spread, if she is inspired to it.


I am sending boys to the West Indies. Some charitable gentlemen put themselves to great expense for no other motive. Only as they are well instructed, and as the true faith is decaying very much there by reason of them that leave this country knowing nothing of their religion, [this] made them lay this scheme, which I hope may have the desired effect. All my children are brought up to be fond of instructing, as I think it lies in the power of the poor to be of [more] service that way than the rich. These children promise me they will take great pains with the little blacks to instruct them. Next year I will have pictures for them that go to give the negroes that learn the Catechism. I must beg you will be so good as to buy me some dozens of the common pictures of that sort for them.


I forgot to speak to Miss N. to send them to me by the first opportunity. I am glad she is liked by the ladies where she is. Had they known all she suffered for this foundation as well as I do, it would make them pass over many imperfections they may see in her. I am confident her intention is good; ignorance may make her err. I run no risk in giving directions about her to a person of your piety and sense, as you were confident [that] had I known the Fille[s] St Joseph were Jansenist[s], I should never have sent her there.


And I hope you'll act in regard of the young ladies as you think proper, and be sure I shall always approve of it. I must say I was desirous they would learn what was proper to teach young ladies, hereafter, as there is a general complaint both in this kingdom and in England that the children are taught only to say their prayers. As for spiritual matter, I am sure the nuns will take good care of that. I must beg the favour of you to present my compliments to the Superior, [to] your mistress and [to] your former one; and my best wishes attend them and the young ladies.


Had I the happiness of being acquainted with you, I should imagine you were laughing at me, to think I fatigue myself in the least. I can assure you I never thought the least trouble in acting in regard of the schools, only in one part of my duty. Don't be uneasy about my health. Nobody can enjoy better health than I do, thank God. I must say I suffered a great deal in mind, which for a time I thought would have hurt my constitution, [but it] did not in the least. I am afraid you all will be tired of me, I may live to be so old. That [is] what is most to be dreaded. I beg you'll believe me to be with the sincerest esteem, dear Miss, your most affectionate friend, Nano Nagle. [P.S.] I wrote to Mr. Halloran about Miss Nagle and shall be guided by what I hear from him as he is so good a judge’.[1]


[1] T.J. Walsh, Nano Nagle and the Presentation Sisters (Dublin, 1959), p. 347.



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