Honora Nagle known as Nano Nagle (1718 – 26 April 1784) was a pioneer of Catholic education in Ireland despite legal prohibitions. She founded the Sisters of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary (PBVM), commonly known as the Presentation Sisters, now a worldwide Catholic order of women religious. She was declared venerable in the Roman Catholic Church on 31 October 2013 by Pope Francis.
Nano Nagle lived during the period when the Catholic majority in Ireland were subject to the anti-Catholic Penal Laws. The Catholic Irish were denied political, economic, social and educational rights that would have lifted them from mass poverty. The parliamentarian and philosopher, Edmund Burke, a younger cousin of Nagle who spent part of his childhood in her birthplace, described those laws: "Their declared object was to reduce the Catholics in Ireland to a miserable populace, without property, without estimation, without education."
Nano Nagle was born in Ballygriffin, just north of Killavullen, County Cork, in 1718, the daughter of Garrett and Ann Mathew Nagle. The name "Honora" given at baptism was soon replaced in the family circle by the affectionate name "Nano". She was the eldest of six or seven children, the others being Mary (omitted in many sources), Ann, Catherine, Elizabeth, David, and Joseph.
Nano was born in the Blackwater Valley in County Cork which possesses views of the distant Nagle Mountains. Much of this region was once the property of the Nagle family. They were connected to some of the most-prominent local families, and their ancestors had lived in the area for hundreds of years. However, after the Williamite War in Ireland, the Nagle family's loyalty to the exiled Catholic King James II led to many of their ancestral lands being confiscated by the government.However, when Nano's parents married, the family still owned considerable property at Ballygriffin, Killavullen. Garrett's brother Joseph kept it in nominally Protestant hands so that the family could retain it under the Penal Laws.
Nano Nagle is believed to have attended a local hedge school, like her cousin Edmund Burke, before she travelled to France to complete her education. The Education Act 1695 banned Catholic schoolteachers in Ireland, while also prohibiting overseas travel for Catholic education. Nagle relatives with strong connections in France arranged for Nano and her sister Ann to travel to Paris, perhaps smuggled in a cargo ship. They finished their schooling and Nano enjoyed a busy social life in Paris – "balls, parties and theatre outings, all the glamour of the life of a wealthy young lady." After one of these parties, "she noticed a group of wretched-looking people huddled in a church doorway" and was struck by the contrast with her privileged life.