THE two last nuns residing in the Presentation Convent in Killarney have left to join other communities in Kerry marking a real end of an era for a tradition that has been part of the Killarney landscape for over 230 years, KillarneyToday.com can reveal.
Since the first sisters arrived in 1793 to establish a convent and school, the Presentation Sisters have played an important role in educating and supporting generations of children of Killarney.
It was the first community outside of the founding community in Cork and their mission was to expand and continue the work of their founder, Nano Nagle, to provide education to Catholic children, which was forbidden at the time by the Penal Laws.
In 1800 a primary school was established and by 1826 over 350 pupils were enrolled. In 1875 the current Presentation Convent was built.
The three-storey traditional stone building, now 146 years old, includes a six-bay double height Gothic Revival style chapel which is of significant historical importance and is a listed building, with many of the original features of the building, both internally and externally, still intact and protected.
In 1948 a secondary school was founded, with the current St Brigid’s Presentation Secondary School building commencing construction two years later. This building is still in use with a further extension added in 1984.
The two remaining sisters departed the Presentation Convent in Killarney for the last time this week and they have transferred to join other communities in Kerry.
While there is sadness with their departing, it also heralds an exciting time for St Brigid’s as land which was part of the convent grounds has been gifted for a proposed new school, as the demand for places at the school has outgrown its current accommodation.
The nuns said it is hoped that this generous gift will ensure that the legacy of Nano Nagle and the Presentation ethos will live on into the future in Killarney and beyond.
As the focus now is on the development of the new school, there are no immediate plans for the future of the convent building and the remaining grounds.