The Presentation Sisters first came to Kilkenny on the 25th September 1800.
Encouraged by the then Bishop of Ossory, Dr. James Lanigan, two young women in their twenties from St. Mary's Parish, Isabella McLoughlin and Catherine Meighan, left home in October 1797 for Cove Lane in Cork City. There, Nano Nagle had for years run a network of schools for the education of the poor, walked the narrow lanes to minister to the sick and deprived in their hovels, and finally established a religious congregation which would continue this mission after her death in 1784.
They were "heard of" by Bishop Lanigan who wanted the same for his city and diocese, and so Isabella and Catherine, after completing three years of religious training, returned to Kilkenny on September 25th 1800.
Their priorities were to establish a Community and a school. So great was their enthusiasm that they started teaching within a month of their arrival - on 12th October 1800 the Presentation Sisters started the school with sixty pupils - all girls.
When the National Education System was introduced in the 1830's the Presentation Community accepted involvement in it - it provided an income - and improved status.
Classes grew and grew. This growth necessitated the acquisition of more rooms and more teachers. Sr Joseph bought up cabins inside the city wall - this for buildings and a garden. The first new buildings were along Chapel Lane. The big development down Jame's St. was in the 1880's
Up to the 1930's the Presentation Sisters were concerned purely with primary education. But then it was decided to move into secondary fields. A secondary top was established but by the late 1940's it had become an independent secondary school.
Convent in James' Street Part of the school built in 1936
It was a crowded and lively complex but modernisation was necessary. So Scoil Mhuire was opened - with great ceremony - in Parnell Street in 1958. The buildings that had been filled with primary students were soon filled by secondary pupils - also to overcrowding. The result was a new site was bought in Loughboy and a new school was built and formally opened in November 1985. It continues to grow and expand.
Today, the Primary School, Scoil Mhuire in Parnell Street, has over 450 pupils on its rolls; the Secondary School in Loughboy has over 600. The convent and buildings in James St. and Chapel Lane were knocked down in order to make way for the Market Cross shopping centre. The Presentation Sisters have lived and worked in Kilkenny for over 200 years. Presentation Kilkenny is under the Trusteeship of Ceist.