Spotlight: Nano Nagle Place

Steeped in the historical richness of eighteenth century Cork, Nano Nagle Place is a new heritage centre on Douglas Street that is set to take the people of Cork on a journey into our county’s history.

Nano Nagle was born to a wealthy Catholic Family in 1718, and dedicated much of her life to the education of poor Catholic children in Cork, establishing 7 schools in defiance to the Penal laws. Adam recently took a trip to the centre and met some of the volunteers that help to share the story of Nano, and the impact she had on education in Cork at a time when penal laws greatly restricted its access to Catholic children.

Donna Coogan decided to start volunteering with Nano Nagle Place after speaking to one of the sisters. This is not Donna’s first time volunteering, having previously volunteered with Cork Mended Hearts after undergoing open heart surgery. She volunteered to support other patients before and after they go through similar surgeries at Cork University Hospital. Donna had been keen to find another organisation to get involved with, and was thrilled to hear that Nano Nagle Place were looking for volunteers.

Donna explains that the whole project is very intertwined with the local community. She volunteers there 3 hours per week, and really loves the experience as it offers her a time-out from daily life. It’s a great opportunity to interact and welcome people while sharing a part of Cork’s wonderful history.

“It’s like walking into the Garden of Eden, only it’s in the middle of Cork City” Donna explains. “Danielle and the other staff are so supportive and warm. They listen, and take our feedback into consideration to make it a very pleasant volunteering experience”.

Donna’s role at Nano Nagle Place is to welcome visitors to the centre, greeting them as they enter, guiding them, offering any assistance they may require, while sharing interesting tidbits of information about Nano, the ursaline nuns or the presentation sisters.

“There are so many areas for people to volunteer, and to have a Volunteer Centre in Cork where people can walk in and find something they’re interested in is great” Donna shares. “There are so many organisations that would really value even a small amount of time. Volunteering is enriching, there are no heavy responsibilities, you can choose what to do, or when suits you, and you can really make a difference in such a short time”.

Another volunteer Adam had the opportunity to meet was Eleanor Mulvihill. Having been a past pupil of the school from the age of 5, up to her Leaving Certificate, Eleanor has many good memories of her time in the school, and shares her joy in seeing it revitalised and being put to good use once again. Having a history with the place, Eleanor was keen to get involved when she heard they would be looking for volunteers.

Starting just 3 weeks ago when the centre opened its doors, Eleanor praises Volunteer Co-ordinator Danielle O’Donovan in her support and provision of training in fire safety, orientation and tourism before the volunteers got started.

Directing Adam’s attention to the various different buildings on the site, Eleanor explains that Nano Nagle place covers quite a large area and is made up of many different levels, explaining the importance of having volunteers on hand to show people around. From the tomb of Nano Nagle, to the graveyard, the water features, the various seating areas, the heritage experience tour, and the soon to be opened café, there is a lot to see there. Eleanor points out the oldest building dating from 1771 and then highlights the ongoing construction on the new, western-apex which will continue to facilitate education for the people of Cork. “I love the area, the feel, the tranquility of the place” Eleanor explains “and getting to share it with new people”.

Paul Lehane, who is part of Nano Nagle’s Ambassador team encourage the people of Cork to come along and check out this centre, which is a hugely significant part of Cork’s history. “It’s an oasis in the city, and it’s open to everyone”.

Nano Nagle Place are currently looking for volunteers, with a number of different roles being advertised through Cork Volunteer Centre. If you would like to learn more about volunteering with Nano Nagle Place, or indeed if you would like to volunteer in any of the other sectors, we would greatly encourage you to register online at and we can arrange a meeting to help you find the perfect volunteer opportunity. You can also find us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram: @VolunteerCork where you can keep up to date with all our latest opportunities, events and general happenings here in Cork.

Adam Lacey

Cork Volunteer Centre