In 1792, Archbishop James Butler left £2,000 in his will to assist ‘the poor of Thurles’, His successor Bishop Thomas Bray planned to use this money to establish a Presentation convent and school in the town and in 1807, Bishop Bray purchased a property in trust for the sisters. However, it took until 1817 before the nuns arrived from Kilkenny as Bray’s plans had been hindered by senior clerics who wanted to use Butler’s bequest to establish a seminary for training priests.

Top right image: Main staircase in Thurles convent
Above: Ordnance Survey map showing North Presentation Convent, 1869


Branching Out – Sr Evelyn Russell, Thurles Convent

Sr Augustine Power moved to Thurles from the Clonmel Convent while another, Margaret Cormack was a local woman who had left Thurles to train in Kilkenny. She returned to the town as Sr Frances in 1817. The foundation was a success and by 1824 the small house occupied by the sisters was overcrowded. The sisters hoped to purchase the adjacent brewery but the owner refused, until the hive of bees in the convent garden swarmed and relocated to the brewery. 

Above: Aerial view of Presentation Convent, Thurles. The Cathedral of the Assumption is on the left of the photograph.
Above: Convent and school, Thurles

The sisters and the brewery owner took this as a sign and soon after the nuns acquired the site. An architect from England was employed to design the convent which he did with the considerable input and direction from Sr Augustine Power, Mother Superior and one of the founders of the convent. Dr Michael Blake, Bishop of Dromore was very impressed by Sr Augustine who he referred to as ‘the hidden gem’.

Top right image: Convent, school and garden, Thurles. A covered walkway linking the convent to the school can be seen in this image.
Bottom left image: The founding sisters of Presentation Convent, Paraparaumu, Wellington New Zealand at the front door of Thurles Convent, 1953.