The Presentation sisters proud history in Carrick-on-Suir

Carrick-on-Suir’s Presentation Convent was founded by four sisters from the Order’s Waterford house and they began their work of educating children in the town on May 3, 1813.

Carrick-on-Suir’s Presentation Convent was founded by four sisters from the Order’s Waterford house and they began their work of educating children in the town on May 3, 1813.

The founders were Mother Jane De Chantel Power, two natives of Carrick-on-Suir Sr Mary Paul Dwyer and Sr Mary De Sales Burke, and Sr. Mary Peter Smyth from Kilkenny City.

All these women possessed considerable property and their money was spent on the foundation of the new convent.

The site for a convent and school was previously given by Stephen Rupel and James Elliot in 1787 on a 999 year lease and William Wadding bequeathed a house in William Street.

The sisters opened their school on May 3, 1813. It was the first school to provide free education for the poor girls of the town. The nuns also immediately commenced building their convent.

The Presentation sisters placed their Carrick-on-Suir school and other schools under the National Education System when it was established in 1831 but in 1864 it left the system due to restrictions on religious emblems. The Presentation sisters schools returned to the National Education System again in 1879.

A new school was built in 1880 on land on the north end of the convent donated by the Urban Council to accommodate increasing pupil numbers. It was funded with the help of donations local people.

Meanwhile, the old school on William Street was converted into a textile workshop in 1886 where employment was provided to local girls making shirts, hosiery, underwear and knitwear and sold them to local shops.

In 1890, the Community built its beautiful convent chapel, which is today part of the Nano Nagle Community Resource Centre and used for community events and concerts.

When the Presentation Sisters celebrated their 100th anniversary in Carrick-on-Suir in 1913 there were an average of 500 children attending the school each day and 28 sisters in the community, including novices.

In the early years of the 20th Century, cookery, lace making and crochet were added to the usual subjects in the school. An Intermediate Class and Commercial Class were set up.

The nuns provided food and clothing to the poor children they taught and to many families in the town, a practice which continued up to the 1950s. At Christmas the nuns gave clothes and parcels of tea, sugar and money to those in need in the town.

As the 20th century progressed, Carrick-on-Suir’s Presentation nuns began providing secondary education and they opened a boarding school in 1967. The first boarder was from Co Kerry.

Secondary students at the school sat the Leaving Cert for the first time in 1950s. In the 1960s, the variety of subjects being taught at the school became more diverse and the number of students, who completed secondary education increased.

In 1974, Carrick-on-Suir’s Mercy and Presentation schools merged. The Mercy Sisters assumed responsibility for the secondary schooling of girls in the town while the Presentation sisters took over the primary schooling.

Fifteen years later, a new Presentation Primary School was built on the site of the old one and officially opened in 1992.

Three of the convent’s sisters moved to a house in Treacy Park in 1995.

The Convent building was vacated in April 1997, and the remaining sisters moved to a house in Chapel Street. The convent chapel was donated to the parish and the remainder of the property was purchased by Fr Nicholas Power for parochial purposes.

The former convent building was transformed into the Nano Nagle Community Resource Centre and in 1999 a public car park for the town was developed on the site of the convents gardens.