Philpot Lane


This is the text of Sister Emer Madigan’s commentary while the Twilight Walk procession paused outside the door of Number 2 Philpot Lane, named after John Philpot Curran. This was the location of one of the houses where the early companions of Nano lived. There was also one of her schools in the vicinity

In a letter to Eleanor Fitzsimons in July 1769 Nano Nagle wrote:

When the Catholics saw what service it did, (they) begged that I would set up schools at the other end of the town from those I had, for the convenience of the children to be under my name and direction, and they promised to contribute to the support of them. With which request I readily complied; and the same number of children that I had were taken in: and at the death of my uncle I supported them at my own expense. At present I have two schools for boys and five for girls.

One of those seven schools was somewhere here in the vicinity of Philpot Curran Lane. To this school Nano would have walked every day from Cove Lane. We are doing the walk in reverse and the easier direction – all downhill! We keep in mind this fact as we recall Nano’s swollen knees and blistered feet, about which she never complained and it was only when she was being prepared for burial that her sisters discovered the fact.

Number 2, Philpot Curran Lane was the first home of the North Presentation Sisters. Mrs. Barbara O’Connell, the widow of the doctor who attended nano in her last illness sponsored the foundation. She rented the house for the four founding sisters, Margaret Fitzgerald, Mary Kenny, Catherine O’Brien and Margaret Murphy. They were professed in Cove Lane Convent in 1799, and on the 15th January of that year they took up residence in the convent here. Mrs. O’Connell claimed her right as a foundress to live with the sisters. The accommodation was poor, totally inadequate for the number of children who swarmed to the house each morning and afternoon. Adults came in the evening for instruction.

Life was difficult: the Sisters were often penniless and in dire straits. When the local merchant families became aware of the situation they often came to their aid.

Young women joined the group: spaces were inadequate and Bishop Moylan talked Fr. John England with helping to find space for a new convent and school a site in Mallow Lane, (now Gerald Griffin Street) was acquired; building was undertaken and in August 1813 the sisters including Sr. Catherine England, a sister of Fr. John England, took possession of their new accommodation. More than 1,000 children attended the first enrolment in Mallow Lane.

In 1834, at the request of Fr. Stephen Coppinger, a curate in Midleton, the Sisters from Mallow Lane made a foundation in that town. From that convent in Midleton a foundation was made in 1854 in San Francisco, the first on the west coast of the USA. In 1956 a group went to Warner Roberts in Georgia, USA.
The ministry of Presentation Sisters, Philpot Lane and Mallow Lane continues to the present day in the north side of Cork City.

The door from Number 2, Philpot Curran Lane is now located in the Nano Nagle Place Heritage Centre.

Sr Emer Madigan, pbvm