Rev. Edward Nangle


Edward Nangle
Trinity College, Dublin
St. Thomas's Church, Dublin
Achill Island
Craughan Cliffs Achill Island


This clergyman has been controversial on several levels but his humanity saved the lives of Achill people during the Famine.

Edward Nangle was descended from a notable Catholic family.  The Nangle Family held the Title of Barons of Navan for over six hundred years previously.  (His father Walter was married trice) firstly to Jane Callan, (they brought up their six children as Catholics) his second marriage was to Catherine Anne Sall, daughter of George Sall a Dublin merchant: they had eight children.  His father re-married for the third time during 1813 to Elizabeth daughter of William Toole of Kilkock, Co. Kildare: they had one daughter. [i]

Early Years

Edward Nangle was raised as a member of the Church of Ireland.  He was born on 25th November 1799 in Dublin.  He lived his early years in the city. [ii]


On the demise of his mother Anne during 1808 Edward was sent as a boarder to Cavan Royal School.  Edward Nangle graduated with a B.A. from Trinity College Dublin during 1823.[iii]


Along with being a committed clergyman he was an accomplished Irish speaker, artist, musician, writer, (he translated the Church of Ireland Bible into Irish) [iv]


Edward Nangle married Elizabeth Warner of Marvelstown House, Co. Meath at St. Thomas’s Church in Dublin during 1828.  They had eleven children.  Unfortunately, during his ministry on Achill Island, he suffered the loss of his wife also some of his children: they were all buried on Achill Island.[v]

Early Ministry

He initially intended a profession in medicine but decided to become involved with the Church of Ireland ministry.  He was ordained deacon in 1824.  When he was created a curate in Athboy Parish Co. Meath he stayed for a few months.  He transferred to Monkstown, Co. Dublin for two weeks.  Aged twenty-four years Edward Nanglee moved to Arva in the diocese of Kilmore as Curate.  He resigned after two years due to ill-health.[vi]

Awareness of Injustices

During his recovery he read Christopher Anderson’s ‘Historical Sketches of the Native Irish’ thus became aware of the injustices perpetrated on the Irish people by the deprivation of their own native language.  He contemplated the Establishment of a Mission among a portion of the Irish-speaking population.   An awareness of the famine & outbreak of cholera on Ireland’s west coast encouraged him to sail on the S.S. Nottingham from Dublin to Westport in the company of Reverend James Freke with a cargo of Indian meal.[vii]


Edward Nangle met Reverend William Baker Stoney in Westport who persuaded him to visit Achill.  He spent a night at Achill Sound prior to a crossing on foot at low-tide followed by a journey on horseback to Bullsmouth, Dooniver also Keel.  He discussed his findings with Rev. Stoney when he returned to the mainland thus a Mission was put in train. [viii]


Nangle leased one hundred acres from Sir Richard O’Donnell of Newport.  A committee was set up of Daly later Bishop of Cashel, Bishop Joseph Henderson Stringer also a Reverend Ceasar Otway.  Nangle secured the support of Archbishop Power Le Poer Trench of Tuam. [ix]


On 30th July 1834 the Nangle family moved to Dugort in Achill.  He was appointed Rector / Vicar of Achill plus Canon of Tuam Cathedral.  The Nangle family were joined by an assistant Reverend Joseph Duncan, two scripture readers also Dr. Neason Adams & family.  It is a testament to the hard work and commitment of Nangle that a settlement of a church, hospital, a steward’s house, substantial clergyman’s dwellings, thirty cottages, a dispensary, a corn mill, plus farm buildings were founded.  By 1847 it was reported that the mission had two thousand, one hundred & ninety-two labourers also that food was available for eight hundred Islanders.  Hundreds of people from Dooniver, Bullsmouth also Ballycroy approved a Declaration of Thanks during 1848 to Canon Nagle for the supply to them of potatoes & turnips from a mission field.   During 1852 Edward Nangle left the Island following his mission of eighteen years. [x]


A school at Slievemore was opened two days prior to Christmas with forty- three  pupils.  The schools in Dugort, Cashel, Keel along with Slievemore catered for four hundred & ten children by the following Sunday!  During 1848 over two thousand children attended the schools. [xi]

Printing Press

With support from friends in London & New York a printing press was established during December 1937 with the publication of the first edition of the ‘Achill Missionary Herald and Western Witness.’    (This newspaper lasted for forty years when it merged with other Ministry Publications)   An orphanage was established during 1838. [xii]

Family Trauma

The Nangle family suffered severe trauma when five of their eight children died in infancy, Elizabeth herself died during 1850. [xiii]

St. Thomas’s Church

On 30th September 1849, the foundation stone of St. Thomas’s Church in Dugort was laid by Lord Plunkett, Bishop of Tuam.  The lands leased from O’Donnell were purchased by the Mission Committee in 1851.  Four years following  his arrival on the Island Nangle wrote; ‘The Missionary Settlement has since grown into a village – the sides of a once barren mountain are now adorned with cultivated fields and gardens… and the stillness of desolation which once reigned is now broken by the hum of the school and the sound of the church – going bell.’  According to him Achill was to him; ‘the happy valley, in spite of all our trials, I know of no place like it. [xiv]

Later Years

Edward Nangle was appointed rector of Skreen, Co. Sligo in the diocese of Killala during 1852.  He remained there until September 1873 when he resigned as a trustee of the mission & rector.  xv]

Return to Island

During 1879 he lived briefly in Achill ‘As I have now completed my 80th year, and am very infirm, I am unable to work for our dear people in Achill as I did for upwards of 40 years of my life.’   [xvi]


Edward Nangle published The Tourist’s Guide to Achill   during 1879 in the Irish Ecclesiastical Gazette.  [xvii]


He returned to Dublin during 1881 with his wife:


Edward Nangle’s demise occurred at his home 23 Morehampton Road, Dublin with his second wife, Sarah by his side on 9th September 1883.  Edward and Sarah had four children: but his surviving son Dr. Edward Nangle had emigrated to Africa.  Edward  Nangle is buried in Deansgrange Cemetery, Monkstown Dublin. [xviii]

An image by Patricia Byrne (9th September 2013) of Edward Nangle’s memorial at St. Thomas’s Church also his grave in Deansgrange feature at this linl:


The Irish Ecclesiastical Gazette  reported his obituary with ‘Nangle is an Evangelical of the old school.’   The Church Advocate  stated that ‘few Clergymen of the Church of Ireland were better known or more highly valued in his day, as he was a man of much intellectual power, a clear expositor of sound scripture, and a powerful writer.’  [xix]

Several years after his death a committee was formed & chaired by William Johnston at no. 17 Upper Sackville Street Dublin to raise funds ‘for the purpose of purporting in a suitable manner the memory of Reverend Edward Nangle of Achill and Skreen.’  [xx]

A memorial stone was erected in his memory at St. Thomas’s Church in Dugort on Achill Island:

Further Information

During 1921 The Nangle Mission was sold to the Congested District Board.  The estate was purchased in 1916. [xxi]

On 24th September 2011 a healing & memorial ceremony was conducted by Rev. Michael Neary Roman Catholic Archbishop of Tuam, the Church of Ireland Clergymen Rev. Val Rogers Westport, also Rev. Patrick Rooke Bishop of Tuam in remembrance of the one hundred & nine unmarked graves of Nangle’s mission also for all famine victims of the nineteenth century.’ [xxii]

Edward Nangle is referenced in these publications:

Joyce P. J.  B .D. of Philadelphia  1910  A Forgotten Part of Ireland  (Tuam) [xxiii]

Mc Donald T. 1997  Achill Island Archaeology, History, Folklore. [xxiv]

Seddall Henry 1884  Edward Nangle, The Apostle of Achill – A Memoir and A History  (Hodges, Figgis & Co  Dublin)(page 34) [xxv]

Niall R Branach Autumn 2000  Edward Nangle & the Achill Island Mission  in  History Ireland  [xxvi]

Patrick Comerford  Edward Nangle (1800-1883): The Achill Missionary in a New Light  [xxvii]

Ní Ghiobúin Mealla 2001  Dugort, Achill Island -The Rise and Fall of a Missionary Communit[xxviii]

The Preacher & The Prelate: The Achill Mission Colony & the Battle for Souls  Byrne Patricia was featured in an article in on 27th May 2018. [xxix]

Kevin Toolis referenced Edward Nangle in an interview with Ger Flanagan in The Mayo News 4th August 2002.  The following is a small extract.  He stated that ‘Edward Nangle, an Irish Protestant born in Meath in 1800, and Founder of the Achill Mission raised millions in donations, in today’s money, to build his Achill Colony in Dugort.’ [xxx]

Tom Gillespie referenced Edward Nangle with several images on pages 16 /17 re. the rivalry between leaders of both Catholic & Protestant Religion in The Connaught Telegraph  issue 9th January 2021  He provided Nangle’s life story plus comments from The Church Advocate  also The Achill Herald.  [xxxi]

Patricia Byrne published this article titled Weapon of his own forging: Edward Nangle, Controversial in Life & Death  on 9th September 2013. [xxxii]

Áine Ryan penned an article in The Mayo News  23rd February 2021 titled Steadfast in the shadow  that referred to Eliza Nangle & her husband Edward. (pages 24 / 25)

McDonald Theresa’s 1997 (new ed. 2006, edited by Jim Higgins) Achill Island Archaeology-History-Folklore referenced Nangle, Slievemore etc. in depth  in chapter 14. (Turner Print Group Longford) (NBC)

This site has an excellent view of the Colony also information re Rev. Edward Nangle:



[ii] Ibid

[iii] Ibid

[iv] Ibid

[v] Ibid

[vi] Ibid

[vii] Ibid

[viii] Ibid

[ix]  Ibid

[x] Ibid

[xi] Ibid

[xii] Ibid

[xiii] Ibid

[xiv] Ibid

[xv] Ibid

[xvi] Ibid

[xvii] Ibid

[xviii] Ibid


[xx] Ibid

[xxi] Ibid

[xxii]  The Mayo News  27th September 2011











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