Ursulines: Blackrock

It was at the invitation of Nano Nagle that the first four Ursulines landed in Cork in 1771 and took up residence in the convent in Cove Lane (now Douglas Street) on Ascension Thursday, 9th May. It was here the sisters began the ministry of education for girls, alongside Nano Nagle, taking in boarders.

In September 1787 sisters went from Cork to Thurles to establish a convent and school which continues still today. The missionary endeavours expanded to New York in March 1812 – this mission was to last just three years and closed in 1815. In April 1858 two sisters were loaned from Blackrock to Thurles to assist the community there returning home to Cork in August 1860. Again in 1948 until 1951 two sisters joined the Thurles community in the establishing of a school and convent in Brecon, South Wales.

After Nano Nagle had founded the Presentation Sisters a new home was found for the Ursuline Sisters and the community and the boarders moved to Blackrock in October 1825. The following year a “poor School” was opened in Blackrock – later known as Scoil Ursula. Much later in 1940/41 the sisters opened a fee-paying junior school in Blackrock which was later incorporated into Scoil Ursula. This school moved to a new building on the site in 1967. The phasing out of boarders in Blackrock happened between 1980 and 1981 while the second level day school continues to this day having moved into a purpose built school building on an adjacent site in September 2002.

Expansion into new missionary territory continued from Blackrock and in 1834 sisters went to Charleston, South Carolina which closed in 1844 and moved to Covington, Kentucky and from there in 1847 to Cincinnati, returning to Blackrock in 1849.

A second foundation was made in Cork city in August 1887 with the opening of a convent and school known as Saint Angela’s on Patrick’s Hill. A new school was built on the grounds of Richmond House, Patrick’s Hill in 1888 and the sisters moved into Richmond House and in 1954 on the completion of a new convent building the sisters moved house once again in the same grounds. The sisters moved out of this building in 2007 and the building transferred to school use – Saint Angela’s Secondary School continues to thrive on Patrick’s Hill to this day.

Ursuline Sisters once again set sail to open a mission in the USA in 1960 this time to Columbus, Georgia. It was there sisters established a school and became involved in Social Services in the Diocese of Savannah. Sisters from Cork continued to serve there until 1997 when the remaining sisters retired and returned to Ireland handing on their well-established ministries to lay people from the area.

Today, sisters live in the new purpose built convent in Blackrock where they continue in the ministry of education in the secondary school, in adult literacy and in pastoral ministry in the Diocese of Cork and Ross.