Copy of letter from Nano Nagle to Miss Mary Angela Fitzsimons 17 December 1770


Copy of letter from Nano Nagle to Miss Mary Angela Fitzsimons 17 December 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.

The proposed date of the novices arrival in Cork has not yet been fixed. Fr. [Patrick] Doran has written in Nano’s name to the Ursuline superior, asking the community to give a ‘categorical answer’ as to whether the intended trip can go ahead. Nano is pleased however, that the superior is 'so much changed in her behavior’ and is showing less reluctance to prohibit the trip.

In response to her recent letter, Nano asks Miss Fitzsimons not to worry about repaying the credit she gave her as 'money is at present so scarce and [there is] such a run on the bankers in this Kingdom, that people can’t get what is due to them’.


Nano Nagle


Ursuline Convent archive, Blackrock, Co.Cork


Sisters of the Irish Ursuline Union




Caroline Maguire, National University of Ireland, Maynooth


Property of the Ursuline Convent archive, Blackrock, Cork












Paris, France
Cork, Ireland

Original Format

Facsimile of original letter.
Original located in Ursuline community San Francisco


‘It is not to be expressed, all the anxiety of mind I have gone through by your and our worthy friend's silence, as I did not get the letter you mention to have been sent by hand. Nor did I know what to think till I had received yours of the 27th of last month.


It did not surprise me to find by it that nothing was yet fixed; as I was sure I should soon be made acquainted with how matters went if there was good news. On the receipt of your letter I spoke to Mr. Doran, who is so good as to write in my name to the Superior, begging her interest and that she would be so charitable as not to defer making her community give a categorical answer. As to that point I think she can't well refuse the last request in conscience; as to the other she may not have any scruple about it. Had I written myself, she might say that I could do it as well before as on this occasion; and others may take it ill that I did not pay them the compliment.


Only Mr. Moylan has such patience and zeal, he would certainly have long ago given up the affair. He is resolved to leave no stone unturned to bring about this Foundation. He says you and he will consider what is best to be done, for I dread they never will consent to lose so useful a subject. It's all in the power of the Almighty; we don't know what is best for us and so ought to be resigned to the divine Will.

I think I have reason to take it unkind of you to give me so many reasons for making use of the credit I gave you on Mr. Waters, as you may be sure nothing could give me more pleasure than that I could in any way oblige you. And I beg you'll not be uneasy if Mr. Fitzsimons can't pay me readily; for money is at present so scarce and [there is] such a run on the bankers in this Kingdom, that people can't get what is due to them. I shall acquaint you when it's paid. When one is in a strange country any disappointment is sensible. As for my part I am often without money; yet as everybody knows me, I don't mind it.

It gives me vast pleasure to find that Miss Kavanagh is so well pleased with teaching in the poor-school. It shows a particular call from the great God to take delight in it. I dread, though her health is better, that in winter it will be too cold for her. And it would be better she should take care of herself for the good of the poor here where she can be of more service, than there; and I beg you will endeavour to prevent her from going to them . . .

The young lady in Dublin, her name is Lawless. When everything was settled, F. Austin told it to her father who came to town; but she could not prevail on him to come with her. He made an excuse that he was old and sickly and the weather was too cold for him to venture. He gave her leave to come when she got company proper for her to travel with. She was with an uncle of hers in James's Street. He engages not to let her want anything during her life.

We were sure you were coming over, in consequence of reports that certainly you were on your way, until Mr. Doran inquired into the truth. I could have wished that, when you determined not to come this winter, I had been informed of it, not so much on my own account as on hers. I could not have avoided putting myself to some expense. And at a time when I had many calls for money and employed workmen in the short days, which makes work come out vastly dear; and only, as I mentioned to you, that I was resolved not to buy what could be had in a few hours and at farthest in a few days, I should have put myself to very unnecessary expense, which I am determined not to do till you are landed. This is a day I long for.

It is a vast pleasure to me to find that your mistress is so much changed in her behaviour, as I think there is no greater happiness in the world than to be in union. Whoever we live with, we must expect to have something to suffer as this world is not to be our paradise. As I find they will allow you to leave when you have a mind, I hope that you and my cousin will get a person to instruct you in what may be useful to teach hereafter, if you should think proper.

Give my best respects to Mr. Moylan, to your former mistress, to the Superior and to your present mistress. My affectionate compliments to all the young ladies. To Mrs. Lynch, when you see her, I beg you will say that my best wishes shall always attend her, and that I shall never forget her kindness to me, which I have a grateful sense of’. [1]


[1] T.J. Walsh, Nano Nagle and the Presentation Sisters (Dublin, 1959), p. 355



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