Presentation Reflection Walk | Cove Lane/Dunbar Plaza (Station 2)

Cove Lane, Dunbar Plaza

Station 2 –

Cove Lane/Dunbar Plaza

Location: Cove Lane

Audio: Read by Sister Nora Moynihan PBVM, Presentation Sister and Past Principal of Iona Presentation College.

After the death of Nano's father, Garret, in 1746, Nano returned to Ireland from Paris where she had been educated. Upon return to Dublin to be with her grieving mother, Nano was horrified by the widespread poverty that she witnessed. But it was when her sister, Ann, who died shortly after selling Nano's precious silk which she brought from Paris to support the poor that Nano began to ponder and listen to the voice within. She returned to Paris with the intention of entering the Ursuline convent, however, upon consultation with her spiritual director and mentors, she was advised with conviction that she should return to Cork to provide education to the deprived children.

A Cork Annalist recounts that her "Jesuit confessor warned her that 'eternal salvation depended on her listening and responding to God's voice".  Nano Nagle founded her first school for the poor in 1754 in Cove Lane, Cork, with about 30 students, in a rented mud brick house. In doing so, Nano defied the Penal laws of the time that restricted education for Catholics. This first school was established for girls to be explicitly educated in their Catholic faith, whilst also teaching them employable skills so that they would be able to work and financially support their families. The students learnt skills including reading, writing, arithmetic as well as needlework and lacemaking. Within a period of nine months, Nano was educating 200 students. Four years later, in 1757, at first alone, Nano had opened seven schools, five for girls and two for boys where she sought to provide a basic education and religious instruction for her students. With the support of her family, especially her uncle Nagle, Nano established a network of schools in Cork. Not everyone in Cork at the time welcomed her initiative; there were times when she was insulted in the street and on occasion, her students were dismissed as 'beggars' brats'.

These actions did not deter Nano as she staunchly remained firm in her outlook; to teach both from her heart and from her own experience. Nano Nagle knew very intimately the transformative power of education and stood by her personal conviction to educate the poor of Cork as a method to opening the door of justice.

The sign depicting Cove Lane was modelled on the road sign mounted on the building at the corner of Cove Lane and Dunbar Street, just off the southern bank of the River Lee in Cork. As of September 2020, this sign still exists on the house on that corner. This corner is directly opposite the South Presentation Convent which was located on Cove Lane, and was where Nano first established a school, and later became the first convent for the followers of Nano and the first Sisters of the Presentation Order. Here, the original street name of Dunbar Street was changed to Dunbar Plaza, to better represent the open space on the western end of the College's Albeus Fahey building completed in 2020.

Dunbar Street and Cove Lane in Cork Ireland. Photo by Dr Ian Anthony.

The corner of Dunbar Street and Cove Lane in Cork Ireland. Taken in May 2014 during the Nagle Education Alliance of Australia Pilgrimage. Photo by Dr Ian Anthony.


Nagle Education Alliance Australia. (2016). Induction Module 1: Nano's Story. Retrieved September 2020 from

Consedine, R. (2001). Songs for the Journey. Presentation Sisters, Melbourne, Victoria.

Cove Lane, Dunbar Plaza (Station 2)