You’ll remember her from your first class religion book.
Back then we learned that Nano Nagle was a nun who set up schools for poor children.
All very nice.
However, the real story of Nano Nagle is not only one of immense kindness and charity, it’s also one of bravery, an unbreakable spirit and some serious business smarts.
The 18th century pioneer started out with a secret school in a Cork slum. Within a few years she had grown her organisation to include seven schools for girls and boys and an almshouse for poor women and founded the Presentation Order, which went on to establish hundreds of schools all over the world.
Here are five cool business tips you can learn from Nano Nagle.
1. She listened to her heart
At the age of 22, travelling home from a Paris ball in the back of a horse drawn carriage, Nano Nagle ordered her driver to halt so she could speak to some poor children at the roadside. From that moment on, she knew the tradition life of parties and polite pastimes was not for her.
2. When she couldn’t find support, she created her own
Because the established religious orders of the time were enclosed and could not work outside with the poor, Nano Nagle founded her own. The Society for Charitable Instruction of the Sacred Heart, later known as the Presentation Sisters, was founded in 1775. Nagle and her followers promised poverty, chastity and obedience to God, but they did not take enclosure. That meant they were free to work in the community.
3. She ignored her detractors
Under the oppressive Penal Laws of the time, operating a Catholic School could result in three months imprisonment.
Nano’s family were terrified that her determination to set up schools for the poor Catholic children of Cork would result in a Protestant backlash. Instead of backing down, Nano managed to convince them of the importance of her crusade. When her uncle Joseph died, leaving her a large sum of money, she finally had the funds she needed to build her first schools and convents.
4. She had a 24/7 work ethic
Nano Nagle’s days were spent educating the city’s poorest children, but she was just as busy at night; known as the Lady of the Lantern, she would move from home to home after dark, seeking out adults to teach and elderly people who needed help.
5. When she couldn’t find something, she built it
In the 1700s, you couldn’t scan Google for an architect recommendation. Nano Nagle had a clear idea of the spaces she needed to make her plans work… and how they should look. She worked with her builders to design functional buildings that stood the test of time.
Find out more about Nano Nagle and her incredible work here.