By Ann Marie Foley - 05 March, 2015
Planning permission has been granted for the convent of Nano Nagle in Cork to be developed into a social services, heritage and visitor centre.
The Presentation Sisters want the historic 244-year-old South Presentation Centre in the heart of the city to have a future as a place that will preserve the ethos and philosophy of founder, Venerable Nano Nagle, and to share it with the people of Cork and beyond.
Full planning permission for Nano Nagle Place, as the project is called, was received with great joy by the Presentation Sisters.
“We are obviously delighted to have got the go ahead, and we hope that by April the builders will be in place. We hope it will progress quickly after that but it is a very big undertaking,” Sr Bride Given of the South Western province told CatholicIreland.net.
She added that it is a complex project because it combines heritage and archival centres, as well as live-in accommodation for some sisters and for visitors from abroad and administrative offices and social services facilities.
“A major part on the ground floor will be facilities for local services of various kinds like the immigrant support service and there will be other ministries. We are hoping it will be a heritage site in terms of being a living heritage and not just a monument to the past – that it will continue the work of Nano Nagle in a different world in a different context,” she said.
An Bord Pleanala commented that the design ‘will protect the character … of the buildings for centuries to come; (it) appropriately balances the needs of visitors, enhances and integrates open spaces, and protects the tranquil atmosphere of the graveyard’.
The convent buildings date back to 1771 and are located on 3.75 acre site which includes a walled garden, graveyard and the tomb of Nano Nagle which attracts visitors from all over the world.
The Sisters who lived in the convent moved out and it has been emptied of archival material and artefacts and prepared for the redevelopment during the last year.
A limited company was formed about a year ago, and registered as a charity, to progress what is a €10 million redevelopment project.
Many of the congregations abroad will raise and give funds and plans for fundraising at home have yet to be finalised but will take into consideration the current difficult economic climate.
There are six lay people and four Presentation Sisters, including Sr Bride Given, on the board.
Its chief executive, who manages the practical operations, is Michael O’Sullivan. The suggested time-frame for building work is eighteen months.
“The heritage and visitors centre will be open to the public. We hope to attract quiet a lot of visitors to that, ranging from visitors to Cork city to school tours perhaps. That it will be educational as well as entertaining, and challenging to people hearing what it was possible for one woman to do in her lifetime,” said Sr Bride Given.
She added that the former convent gardens and green area will also be open to the public in what is a very high population density area in Cork city.