Presentation Primary has a long tradition of education in Kilkenny. We have sixteen mainstream classes, six Special Education Classes and two Language Units. Our school caters for boys and girls to first class, and girls only to sixth in mainstream classes. There are both boys and girls in our Junior and Senior Language Units. On September 25th 2008 our school celebrated it’s 50th Birthday! Here we have photographs of principals past and present.
Sr Maura retired as principal in 2019.
Ms Irene Deasy, who has been a member of the Presentation staff for many years, became our new principal on April 24th 2017. Congratulations Ms Deasy! We wish you all the best in your new role in the school.
School Year 2021/2022
These boys and girls will represent our school in our new brochure this year.
Here are some pictures from the past!
Imbued with the Presentation spirit, we promote the dignity of all our pupils by educating them in a caring Christian environment, nurturing and encouraging a sense of self worth, respect for themselves and others and an appreciation of a good work ethic, thus fostering their spiritual, emotional and academic development.
The Board Of Management
The Board of Management is comprised of eight members. They are the chairman, appointed by the bishop of the Diocese of Ossary, two bishop’s nominees, the school principal , one teacher and two elected parents, whose children are presently enrolled in our school. Meetings are held monthly and follow the format of minutes, correspondence, Treasurers’ Report, Principals’ Report, Teachers’ Report, Parent Council Report, and Child Protection. All aspects of school life are under the guidance of The Board. Any appointed Board has a four year term of office, at which time a new Board is formed. The present Board, and previous Boards, have been a wonderful source of support and guidance to all our staff, parents and pupils.
Health Promoting School
H.P.S. was set up in our school to make it a happier, healthier place. Our Priority areas are the yard, healthy lunches and cloakroom/toilet areas. The Committee is made up of the principal, parents’ teachers’ and pupils’ representatives. The committee meets regularly and reports back to the school community at assemblies.
Green School: we are a proud green school and we now have our third green flag!
Art Room, P.E. Hall with Stage, Two Large Playgrounds, Basketball/Tennis Courts, Playing Fields, School Garden, Computers I pads and interactive white boards, Junior and Senior Language Units, Library.
We have a wide variety of curricular and extra curricular activities and events going on throughout the school year.
The sixth class pupils of 2000 compiled this history in collaboration with their teachers under the guidance of S. I. P. The following is the history of our school.
Nano Nagle was born at Ballygriffen Co. Cork in 1718. Nano became a spirited little girl full of fun and mischief. When she grew older . Nano was taught at the hedge school in the ruins of Monanimy Castle. When she was thirteen her parents decided to take her to France to be properly educated. She had to keep it a secret about going to France because it was forbidden by the Penal Laws. Nano stayed with her cousins in France. She was taught by nuns there.
She loved Paris with its balls and its masquerades. The death of her father in 1746 made Nano and Ann return to Ireland, first to Ballygriffen and then to Dublin.
Nano decided that since she couldn’t help the children in Ireland, she would enter a French convent and pray for them. There she went to the Spiritual Director and told him that she was worried about the poor children in Ireland. He told her that she should return to Ireland to teach these poor children. Nano’s first school was in Cork in 1754. Ten years later Nano had seven schools around Cork city. She taught the children how to read and write and she also taught needlework. She opened schools for boys as well. Nano also helped the sick and the poor. Nano became known as the Lady of the Lantern because at night she used to travel home by the light of her lantern. In 1775 Nano founded the ‘Presentation Sisters’. On the 24 June 1777 Nano and her three companions pronounced their vows. From 1775-1780 Nano’s cottage was the first Presentation Convent. Nano Nagle died on Monday, April 26 1784. She was 66 years old.
“Lanes her hem touched were cured of hopelessness.
Her cloak was motherskirt that cuddled crowds.
And desert tent for hearts love parched and stray.
Her lamp swung on a door to happiness ,
Brought life to minds were nurtured in their shrouds,
And showed the way to light was light, the way.”
Life in the 1800s in Kilkenny
When Isabella and Catherine opened their school on the 12th October 1800 the harsh Penal Laws were still in force. Catholics had very few rights. Most people were very poor. Food was scarce. The clothes people wore were just rags. According to a newspaper report in 1801, several people died of starvation in Kilkenny City. During one year coal was given out to 6,000 poor families and over 40,000 meals were given out from a soup kitchen during the very severe winter of 1811. People lived in overcrowded rooms. One home behind the school was described as a “dark cellar with two parents, four children, a pig, a donkey and a dog.”
Apart from teaching the children, Isabella and Catherine, and the other Presentation Sisters who joined them, often provided food and clothing for the girls who came to their school in Kilkenny. During her lifetime Isabella wrote detailed accounts of her activities. Her successors preserved many of her writings as mementos. She wrote the following in 1801: “Provisions were enormously high this last year; the poor were starving and we were obliged to feed the children frequently.”
Sir Walter Scott, author and poet visited Kilkenny in 1825. In his Journal he wrote: “Their poverty is not exaggerated. It is on the extreme edge of human misery. Their cottages would scarce serve as pig stys even in Scotland. And their rags seem the very refuse of the rag shop.”
Presentation Convent, James’s Street , Kilkenny, was the fifth daughter house of the South Presentation Convent in Cork. In the first three decades of its existence, the Kilkenny Community was itself to become parent to seven other foundations, each drawing heavily on the finances and personnel of the Mother house. These were:
Presentation Convent, Mooncoin, founded from Kilkenny in 1829.
This photograph of the Presentation Convent, Castlecomer was taken in 1978. The convent was founded 150 years earlier in 1828.
In 1898 Sisters from Kilkenny founded a Presentation Convent in Kilmacow in South Kilkenny.
In 1913 another community of Presentation sisters was established in Durrow, Co.Laois. The sisters’convent and school was housed from 1929-1992 in Castledurrow, the original home of the Flower family dating from 1716.
In 1960 four sisters from Kilkenny went to the Philippines, to Himamaylan on the Island of Negros in the diocese of Bacolod. They went to teach the children there. The sisters who went were the late Sr. Baptist Kearns, Sr. Rita Keyes, Sr. Carmel Claxton, who taught in our school for many years and still lives in the convent next door and Sr. Annunciata Hayes who teaches Maths to the girls in 5th and 6th classes.
In addition to the founders the following sisters from Kilkenny have been to the Philippine Mission:
Sr. Paula Farrelly, Sr. Imelda Buckley, Sr. Rosarii Treacy, Sr. Marie Looby, Sr. Pius Murphy and Sr. Marie Bray.
The Presentation Sisters continue to live in Parnell Street, Kilkenny today in their new convent consisting of three adjoining houses built in 1990.
At first education was in the “Secondary Top” which was an extension of the primary school. The first pupils were “graduates” of sixth class. In 1934 one pupil sat the Leaving Certificate. Then in 1936 the secondary top became a full secondary school. Girls came from as far away as fifteen miles. There were no school buses and there was no “free education” so the girls cycled or walked in every kind of weather.
In 1936 six pupils did the Leaving Certificate. The first Secondary School was fee paying but in name only. There were many exemptions for the daughters of widows, for groups of sisters and for those in poor circumstances. The numbers in the school grew rapidly. Accommodation for all the students became a problem. The upstairs rooms in Chapel Lane were redivided into three, by thin partitions. When the primary school moved to Parnell Street the secondary students took over the vacated rooms both in James Street and Chapel Lane. Later prefabricated class rooms for the secondary school were erected in the grounds of the new primary school in Parnell Street.
In 1983 permission to build a new secondary school was given by the Dept of Education. A site was purchased in 1984 and on May 30th of that year the site was blessed by Most Rev. Laurence Forristal, Bishop of Ossory, and building commenced immediately. On November 21st 1985, Presentation Day, the secondary students and teachers moved into their beautiful new school in Smithsland, Loughboy.
Facilities there include a library, specialist rooms for Art, Music, Science, Home Economics and Computers, a P.E hall with showers, a canteen and an oratory. Outside are lovely grounds with lawns and flowerbeds, tennis and basketball courts and a camogie pitch. The school caters for 600-700 students.
In October 1797 Isabella Mc Loughlin and Catherine Meighan left Kilkenny and went to Cork City to Nano Nagle to become Presentation Sisters. Both were in their early twenties and both were from St. Mary’s Parish. Isabella Mc Loughlin’s father was a dyer and he had a property in the Coal Market (now Parliament Street), a fashionable part of town. Isabella’s mother was educated in France. Catherine Meighan’s mother had a shop in High St. where books, hardware and groceries were sold. On October 3rd Isabella and Catherine set out for Cork. They were accompanied by the Bishop of Ossory, James Lanigan.
They travelled in a coach called “The Fly”. This was the normal public transport from Dublin to Cork, Kilkenny being on its route. It was not called “The Fly” because it went quickly or “flew” along. In fact, the journey was slow, tiring and even dangerous. It took a week to reach Cork.
When they arrived in Cork they went to Nano Nagle’s house in Douglas St. Here they learned and lived the Presentation way of life under the guidance of Nano Nagle. In July 1800 Isabella and Catherine were professed as Presentation Sisters. Then they returned to Kilkenny.
On September 25th 1800 Catherine and Isabella arrived at a house in James’s Street Kilkenny. It was beside the city wall, where Superquinn is now. They were the first teaching sisters in the diocese of Ossory and they were defying the Penal Laws. In the convent Isabella was known as Sr. Joseph and Catherine became Sr. de Sales.
They opened their school on the 12th of October 1800. They had intended to limit class size to a maximum of twelve. However, on the first day sixty pupils, all girls arrived. The school day was from nine o’ clock in the morning to twelve noon and from one o’clock to half past three in the afternoon. Holidays were short, a month in the summer and ten days at Christmas and Easter.
The curriculum was decided by Nano Nagle herself. The children were taught religion, reading, writing, arithmetic, needle work and spinning. Religion was regarded as the most important subject. The facts were presented in simple language and the children were taught to speak reverently of God and they were not allowed to ask questions. The three R’s were taught. Reading was from dull unattractive books; writing was on slates and arithmetic was of a very basic kind. Spinning was taught because almost everyone but the very poorest had a spinning wheel in those days.
Sewing was taught because, if the girls could sew, then they could earn a living when they were older. Complete silence in class was insisted on. Isabella and Catherine had no experience of teaching. In those days there were no training colleges. But they were both well educated. It is not known where they were educated but it was probably by Ursuline nuns. Catherine and Isabella were both excellent at needlework and so they taught the girls sewing. Since all sewing had to be done by hand this was a very worthwhile skill for the girls to acquire. Shirt making was an industry with great potential. However neither Catherine nor Isabella knew anything about it, so a lay teacher, Mary Buggy, was employed to teach shirt making. Many more girls came to the school to learn this useful craft. To facilitate the teaching of spinning, extra spinning wheels were purchased in 1804 along with flax. Existing spinning wheels were repaired. Another craft taught was lace making. Brigid Flanagan from Galway came to teach it. Lace-making proved to be a lucrative craft.
“We remember the past with thanks
We celebrate the present with joy
We look to the future with hope”
In 2000 we celebrated the fact that the Presentation Sisters have lived and worked in Kilkenny for 200 years. The first Presentation Sisters were Catherine Meighan and Isabella Mc Loughlin who went to Cork to Nano Nagle to become Presentation Sisters. We celebrated the Bi- Centenary in St. Mary’s Cathedral on the 25th of September 2000. The Bi- Centenary was to celebrate the Presentation Sisters being in Kilkenny for two hundred years.
At the Mass the Bishop and priests from other parishes came, the Mayor also attended with members of the Corporation. Presentation Sisters from all around the world came to attend the Mass.
The girls from the Secondary school danced up the aisle. The girls from fifth class also danced up the aisle. Some girls got to serve. Some girls gave out leaflets for the Mass. The choir from the secondary school sang and some girls from the primary sang too. We had a prayer service in the school hall. The fifth class did the dance that they did at the Mass.
Sr. Maura, who was our principal lit the millenium candle.
We gave presents to Sr. Maura our principal, Sr. Teresa one of our teachers and Sr. Nora, who is head of the convent.
For all that week some girls from sixth class got to talk on the intercom about the Bi- Centenary and what it meant. Fourth, fifth and sixth class had a party and a disco. We had a great time and it was lots of fun.
A plaque was put up on the city wall beside Market Cross, which is the site of the old convent, to commemorate the day, and there was an article in the newspaper about it.
At different times in the past there were other celebrations
In 1825, twenty-five years after the foundation of the Presentation Convent in Kilkenny, a very important visitor came to James’s Street. This was Sir Walter Scott, the poet and author of ‘Ivanhoe’. He wrote about his visit to the convent.
In 1900 there were great celebrations. High Mass was presided over by the bishop Dr. Abraham Brownrigg. Three other bishops attended: Dr. Croke, Archbishop of Cashel, Dr. O’ Callaghan of Cork and Dr. Foley of Kildare & Loughlin. The preacher was Canon Sheehan who wrote many novels, the most popular being ‘My New Curate’.
The street between the Cathedral and the convent was decorated. A decorative arch was built from which hung a banner. The banner had gold lettering on a deep red background with the words Blessed Virgin Mary (1800/1900).
After the High Mass a cordon-bleu banquet was served to the guests in the Convent. Later the Reverend Mother and other senior sisters met the Mayor and his entourage who offered their congratulations and best wishes.
Rule of Enclosure:
An interesting fact about the Centenary celebration is that none of the Presentation sisters attended the High Mass of Thanksgiving and Jubilation in St. Mary’s Cathedral. This was because the Rule of Enclosure was still in operation, which meant that the sisters could not leave the convent even to go across the street to a historic religion celebration.
After the banquet there was a gala concert in the convent hall. Children from the school performed a humorous sketch followed by dancing & singing. Music performed included the Hallelujah chorus and ‘the Bells of Shadow’. The band of Berkshire Regiment played rousing music which added to the festive atmosphere.
In 1950 there were more celebrations. The Bishop Dr. Patrick Collier presided over High Mass in St. Mary’s Cathedral. The preacher on that day was Fr. Peter Birch, who later became Bishop of Ossary. General Richard Mulcahy, Minister for Education also attended. After the solemn High Mass a splendid lunch was served to the principal guests of the day. At the lunch the Minister for Education, General Mulcahy spoke of Nano Nagle and her followers and the great work undertaken by them in difficult circumstances “in the service of God through service to his children and his poor”. The bishop commended the work of the Presentation sisters throughout the world. An t-Athair D.O’Coillear O.M.I. who was the bishop’s brother praised the sisters for “an meid a bhi a dheanamh acu ar son na Gaeilge”.
In September 1950, as part of the celebrations, pupils from the Primary and Secondary Schools put on a play called “Our Lady Of Fatima”.The play was staged in the Regent Cinema.
Bishop Collier, ever apt with words, wrote:
Well done! Congratulations on the production of “Fatima”. I saw what I had often longed to see-the talents and gifts of our ouw schools and convents turned to the presentation of sacred drama on the public stage. You have given a good lead, which I hope will be copied.
Primary School & Principals
By 1950 the Presentation Primary School in Kilkenny had about 700 children on roll. They were accommodated in various rooms from James’s Street to Chapel Lane. All of the time the numbers were growing and in some cases there were two classes per room.
The Presentation Sisters applied to the Dept. of Education for permission to build a new school in 1952. Eventually the go-ahead was given.
The school was to be built in a green field in Parnell Street. On September 25th 1956, Foundation Day, the foundation stone was blessed and laid by Dr. Patrick Collier, Bishop of Ossory. The new school called Scoil Mhuire, was a two-storey building with eighteen classrooms, a fine Assembly Hall with a stage, offices and specialist rooms. Facilities included two playgrounds with covered-in areas for wet days. The school was surrounded by lawns, flower beds and had two basketball/tennis courts. The estimated cost of building the new school was £102,000. One third of this was to be paid by the Presentation Order.
Scoil Mhuire was opened officially on September 8 1958.
The first part of the ceremony consisted of Solemn High Mass in St Mary’s Cathedral at which Bishop Collier presided. Afterwards the Minister for Education, Mr. Jack Lynch ceremoniously opened the main door with a golden key which was later presented to Bishop Collier.
Later in the Assembly Hall the Minister, Bishop Collier and the Mayor gave speeches. After the celebratory meal a teacher from the school Mrs. May McCarthy sang “The Moon Behind the Hill” which was written by a Kilkenny man William Kenneally. Then the guests were taken on a tour of the school.
The school accommodated 720 pupils. It was divided into two separate schools, each with a walking Principal.
The Infant school was downstairs and the Senior School was upstairs. In September 1988 because numbers on roll had decreased, the two schools were amalgamated under one Principal.
The Presentation school in 2013.
We also have a Junior and a Senior Language Class, each with a teacher and part time Speech Therapist. Our Special Education team has E.A.L., Learning Support and Resource teachers.
Facilities in the school include an Art Room, computers and interactive white boards in all classrooms, a Basketball court, a green area for sport, two enclosed playgrounds and a large hall equipped with a stage. In addition to the broad spectrum of Primary School subjects, the school participates in many extra-curricular activities. School Activities include, Swimming, Book Fair, Cake Sales, Junior and Senior Sports Days, Art and Educational Competitions, Prayer and Carol Services, Quizzes, Monthly Assemblies, School Concerts ,participation in the Peace Proms, Theatre Visits, Visits to Exhibitions, School Tours, Drama and Camogie /Hurling/ Football / Basketball/ Spikeball/ Tag- Rugby/ Coaching . We have a marvellous Parents’ Council who make a huge contribution to the school.
Principals in Junior School:
Sr. de Lourdes Murphy1958-1971
Sr. Columba O’Regan1971-1980
Sr. Assumpta Walsh1980-1985
Sr. Eileen Glendon1985-1988
Principals in Senior School:
Sr. Augustine Mc Goldrick1958-1971
Sr. Aquinas Jolley1971-1985
Sr. Norah Merrick1986-1988
Principals of Amalgamated School:
Sr. Norah Merrick1988-1991
Sr. Eileen Glendon1991-1997
Sr. Maura Murphy1997-2009
Mrs. Marie Kelly 2009-
Dr. Abraham Brownrigg, Bishop of Ossory, visited Germany towards the end of the 19th century where he saw typing being done for the first time. On his return to Kilkenny he suggested to Mother Evangelist Moore in the Presentation Craft School that she should begin to train girls to type. He promised to provide a “typing machine” if training in its use could be provided. Sr. Agnes Rafferty went to Dublin in 1896 and took lessons in shorthand and typing. She then returned to Kilkenny and started the Commercial School.
From the beginning it was very successful and many of the students achieved distinction. The school was located in St. Brigids beside Chapel Lane. Sr. Dympna Devlin ran the Commercial School for many years. She taught Shorthand, Typing and Book-keeping.
Olivia’s Presentation Playschool School is situated behind the convent in Parnell Street near the “Regent” gate. The playschool, which is run by owner/manager Olivia, with the assistance of Michelle and Carolina is located in the building, which for many years housed the kindergarten run by Sr. Evangelist O’Shea. Olivia’s playschool is in operation since 2003 from 9.00 am to 12.oonoon. in keeping with school holidays. There are 18 children in attendance.