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Nano Nagle Place – History, Calm and Inspiration in Cork City

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Opened last summer, the Nano Nagle Centre is the new kid on the block on Cork’s eclectic visitor trail and is a must for any visitor looking for something a little different, something beyond the typical museum or gallery experience. The €10.5 million refurbishments of a historic convent and school as a heritage centre serves as a fantastic living showcase of one of Ireland’s greatest social justice pioneers.

The Nano Nagle Centre

Located just a 10-minute walk from our city-centre boutique hotel, Hotel Isaacs, the Nano Nagle Centre is a haven of tranquillity minutes away from the hustle and bustle of life. Comprising a heritage centre, peaceful gardens, a design shop and café, the Nano Nagle Centre provides the visitor with an interesting interactive exhibition into the world of 18th century Cork, a city of squalor and poverty repressed by the Penal Laws (laws limiting the rights of Catholics). It then takes a more personal turn by delving into the fascinating life of Nano Nagle, a wealthy, educated lady from North Cork who decided to give up her comfortable life of glamour and frivolity to become a nun and establish a series of secret schools in the city to educate the poorest of Cork, a cause that eventually led to her decline and death in 1784. Indeed, at the time of her death, the “Lady of the Lamp” (as she was affectionately known) had opened seven schools, established an almshouse for poor women and of course, spearheaded the creation of the Presentation Order, an Order of Nuns that continues her education and social inclusion mission today. Inspired yet?

The centre is full of artefacts from the life of this remarkable lady including the door to one of her schools, her private parlour, her bonnet, jewellery and personal portraits. Despite the heavy subject matter, don’t be fooled into thinking this is a serious and dull visitor exhibition best suited to historians or school groups. With lots of audio-visual displays, buttons to push and even an 18th century ‘photo booth’, I can safely say that this centre is a living breathing source of inspiration in our city. It expertly connects the past and present by showcasing the current work being done by the Sisters across the globe.

Even if history isn’t your thing, the grounds are free to access and are well worth a visit. Descend into the lower grounds to see the actual tomb of Nano Nagle or wander around the upper grounds enjoying the calm, have a coffee in their newly opened café or get in touch with your creative side at their art and craft shop.

I love museums! I love galleries! However, what I love more is a visitor experience that does more than merely educate and entertain me with pretty things. The Nano Nagle Centre does all of this and more. It is real flesh and blood- so much more than a memorial to the past but a true success story in how the past can inform the present to inspire the future.

  • The Nano Nagle Centre is open 7 days a week from 10:00 -17:00. Daily guided tours at 1500.
  • A photographic exhibition entitled: “Look beyond” showcasing work from people who have experienced life with mental health difficulties will run from February 27th-March 10th.
  • Afterwards, indulge your taste buds with a delicious meal at our award-winning Greenes Restaurant where residents of our city-centre boutique hotel enjoy a 15% discount off their food menu.
  • Be inspired by our sensational cocktails at our Cask Bar (Winner of – Sky Bar of the Year 2017)

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