Iona Presentation College

Cove Lane Lights

Location: Cove Lane

Nano was known as the Lady with the Lantern, walking the narrow streets of Cork, bringing education to the poorest and most needy. Of the Presentation family it may truly be said there are, "Many lamps, [but] one flame" . . . the flame of the Divine (Rumi).


The lights of Cove Lane acts as a reminder of Nano Nagle's vocation as she walked through the laneways of Cork, Ireland. Nano taught in her schools during the day and at night, she passed her time moving among the poor to visit the ill, elderly, those who were widows, imprisoned or destitute. Until 1825, there was little public lighting in the city of Cork. Whilst it was for practical reasons that Nano carried her lantern, it came to symbolise so much more to the people of Cork than practicalities. The lantern guided Nano's way and was a welcoming and nurturing sign for those who she visited. As Sister Corine Murray PBVM describes, "through her words and by her deed, in her living and her dying, Nano herself became the lantern". Nano brought the light of Jesus Christ to all whom she encountered and reminded the poor of God's compassionate love. She successfully embodied God's compassionate presence for those pushes to the fringes of Cork's society. Nano's zeal and sheer hard work over an extensive period of time in difficult circumstances arose from her nurtured and close relationship with Jesus and her faithfulness to spreading the Gospel message and the Good News of God's love to the marginalised.

As Presentation people, we reflect on the symbol of Nano's lantern as evidence of the transformative nature of the Spirit at work amongst us. Sister Marlette Black PBVM explains that the lantern "symbolises light in the darkness of fear, ignorance and despair, hope in the face of overpowering injustice and oppression and the power of even small acts of human kindness against the tide of poverty and neglect."

It is imperative to recognise that the light of Nano's can never be dimmed. In 2018, Presentation people across the globe celebrated the tercentenary of Nano Nagle's birth, providing an opportunity to reflect on how her physical and symbolic 'carrying of the lantern' has now been passed on to thousands of Presentation Sisters and Presentation people around the world.

Adapted from Sources:

  • NEAA Presentation Spirituality
  • Marlette Black PBVM, Charism Spirituality, September 2009
  • Richard Rogusz

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