On April 25th, 2018, the city of Cork was witness to a unique event, one probably not seen in the city for over a hundred years. It took the form of a procession of Presentation Sisters,- delegates to the Congregation Gathering that took place recently in Cork – carrying lanterns as evening fell. Sisters and local people gathered at 5.00pm at the Cathedral of St Mary and St Ann, known locally as the North Cathedral, to join students from the Presentation schools in the north city area who, through song and music, celebrated the legacy of Nano Nagle. A saint to the people of Cork, Nano was born three hundred years ago this year in Ballygriffin, near Mallow.
The Twilight Walk: Celebrating a Remarkable Woman
Being the Tercentenary of Nano’s birth, this year offers us all an opportunity to celebrate this remarkable woman. To mark this special occasion of celebration and pilgrimage Sister Mary Deane, pbvm, Congregation Leader missioned the pilgrims in an address at the conclusion of the ceremony in the North Cathedral. On exiting the cathedral the pilgrims began their journey, retracing the footsteps of Nano across the city, they were led by students from St Mary’s High School, Midleton, guided a giant replica lantern on wheel through the streets. This generated much interest and curiosity among the many people on their home commute at the end of the working day. The local police, members of the Irish Garda (police), provided a motor-cycle escort along the route..
This event is one of many marking the Tercentenary of the birth of the Venerable Nano Nagle, a celebrated 18th century woman of Cork, who founded the Congregation of the Presentation Sisters of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Many in Cork city who witnessed this event on the evening of April 25th last had themselves attended Presentation schools in the city. Many parents of children from the local schools attended the event in the North Cathedral.
Why a Twilight Walk?
Why was a pilgrimage in the form a Twilight Walk proposed as an event to make the Tercentenary of Nano’s birth? It was a real life enactment of a scene that many Corkonians in the 1780s witnessed for themselves. They would have seen an woman of great energy lighting her way through the lanes of the city in the area between the Grand Parade and Shandon Street holding aloft a lighted lantern. She often visited the poor of the city and had established schools for girls, first in the South Convent, and then later throughout the city. She became known as The Lady of the Lantern.
Nano and Cork
As the 2018 Twilight Walk wound its way through the streets of historic Cork, Sister Emer Madigan pbvm, brought to life the reality of Nano’s daily journey on foot when visiting the students of her seven schools. At different points along the pilgrimage route, Sister Emer, provided a commentary illuminating the historical significance of the various locations where the pilgrims halted briefly. These stopping points are separately detailed and linked to the text of Sister Emer’s commentary (see below).
Near the location at Cross Street is the location of one of Nano Nagle’s schools, the first being at Cove Lane. It was here, too, that she fainted on her daily round of the schools on April 21st, 1784. It was a Wednesday. This date was uppermost in the minds of the walkers on the Twilight Walk as, they too, carried lanterns as they walked through Cork’s historic streets on Wednesday, April 25th, 2018.
Salute to Nano
When the pilgrims arrived at the Nano Nagle Bridge they were greeted by a Salute to Nano given by Sister Mary O’Brien. Moving on to St Finbarr’s South Chapel, they were, in a sense, walking back in time. It was here that Nano and her first companions would have attended Mass.
A Celebration of Nano at the Goldie Chapel
The Twilight Walk ended in the Goldie Chapel at Nano Nagle Place. In this chapel the pilgrims, along with dignitaries and invited guests, enjoyed a programme of music, readings and reflection, involving pupils from the Presentation schools in the local area, weaving together the many strands of the Nano Story in this special Tercentenary Year. Sister Mary Deane pbvm, Congregation Leader, in a concluding address, complimented the pupils from the various schools who had made the evening so memorable for all.
It was an event of which the city of Cork can be justly proud.
St Emer Madigan’s Twilight Walk Commentary