Mother Morrogh – Bernard

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Cork City Hall 2014 William Murphy
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Strokestown House, Co. Roscommon 2011 Laura Lodged
Moy at Foxford (assessed 2014)
Foxford, Co. Mayo


This Catholic Nun ensured a town would prosper with her work ethic.

Agnes Morrogh was born in Cheltenham, Gloustershire England on 24th February 1804.  Her father John was a member of the Morrogh family from Glanmire in Cork City. (Rosaleen Snee Gaughan)  [i]    

Cork & Kerry

Shortly after her birth she returned to Cork with her mother.  She remained there until 1849 when her father inherited the Bernard Estates.  They moved to Kerry, then her father became known as John Morrogh – Bernard.  He acted as Landlord there.  He provided work for the women on the Estates with the result that Agnes Morrogh learned the practice early in life that all people must be allowed the dignity to earn their living.  From both her parents she learnt a deep sense of self – sacrifice, charity, humility which formed the reason for her devotion to assisting the poor. (Rosaleen Snee Gaughan[ii]

Early Years

During those early years she realized her desire for a Religious life. By 1860 she made the decision to enter a Convent in the future. (Rosaleen Snee Gaughan) [iii]  


She was home schooled by her mother in early years prior to her study at Laural Hill Convent in Limerick for three years.  She travelled to the Continent to continue her education at Daimes Anglaises Convent in Paris during 1858. (Rosaleen Snee Gaughan[iv]


She celebrated her twenty – first birthday on 24th February 1863.   She entered the Novitiate of the Sisters of Charity on 2nd July that year.  (Their Vows of chastity, poverty, obedience but especially devotion to the poor appealed to her )  She spent six months as a Postulant followed by a two – year testing period. (Rosaleen Snee Gaughan)


She was Professed on 16th January 1866.  (Rosaleen Snee Gaughan[v]


St. Morrogh – Bernard was posted to teach in Gardner Street School in Dublin.  A few months later she was sent to Kings Inns School. (Rosaleen Snee Gaughan[vi]


During October 1869 she suffered a serious illness.  This was followed by Convalescence at a Convent in Donnybrook. (Rosaleen Snee Gaughan)  [vii]


On her recovery she was appointed an Attendant to Mountjoy Street School. (Rosaleen Snee Gaughan)  [viii]


She was employed as an a Staff Member at Lakelands Orphanage. (Rosaleen Snee Gaughan)  [ix]


During April 1877 by then known as Mother M. Arsenius: she moved to Ballaghdeereen in Co. Roscommon as Rectress of a new Convent in the town.  She proceeded to use her time there to relieve poverty while assisting all people. (Her mother died during that time) (Rosaleen Snee Gaughan)  [x]

Foxford Convent

A suggestion was made by the Sisters of Charity Conference to open a Convent in Mayo at Foxford.  With some friends & the local Sergeant’s assistance a house was found.  Mother Arsenius moved in with another sister on 9th December 1890 to open the Convent of the Divine Providence. She opened a school. She encouraged sports also music among the students. Her application for a Grant to the Congested District Board to enable training in Domestic Science also to farm areas of the community was provided during 1893. She was instrumental in the building of a Convent Chapel during 1925. [xi]

Woollen Mills

She decided that the small weaving & spinning business from Ballaghdeereen could be transferred to Foxford on a larger scale.  By 1892 the Foxford Woollen Mills was founded.  She continued to upgrade & improve the Woollen Mills during her time in the area. (Rosaleen Snee Gaughan) [xii]


Mother M. Arsenius founded the Foxford Brass & Reed Band during 1897.  (Rosaleen Snee Gaughan[xiii]

Handball Alley

Due to her efforts a Handball Alley was built  beside the Bridge on Ballina Road during 1908. (Rosaleen Snee Gaughan[xiv]

Music School

She opened a Music School in Foxford during 1923. (Rosaleen Snee Gaughan)   [xv]

Gaelic Culture

According to this site she supported the revival of Gaelic Culture.  She arranged houses for the workers.  She organized cart roads to provide access roads for one hundred – eighteen houses. [xvi]


Mother Morrogh – Bernard’s demise occurred in the Convent on 20th April 1932. [xvii]


According to ‘Virtue of a Mill’ the River Moy provided the power, the sheep farmed locally provided the wool. Locals people provided the labour. [xviii]

Mother Morrogh – Bernard is referenced in ‘Agnes Morrow – Bernard: Foundress of Foxford’ Mulloy Margaret 2014 Mercier Pres. (with a foreword by Mary Robinson)  Gildea Denis 1936 ‘Mother Mary Asenius of Foxford.’ References her in this publication . Burns, Oates & Washbourne  [xix]

Mother Morrogh –  Bernard the Founder was displayed for some years in an Audio – Visual Presentation with Models at a Tour of the Woollen Mills: Her story with images may be viewed at this site:

A video of the Woollen Mills Tour may be seen here:

Rev. Fr. Kevin Hegarty referenced Mother Morrogh –  Bernard in his column ‘Second Reading’ 1st September 2020 ‘The Mayo News’ (page 27)  He referred to Mother Bernard with ‘her legacy of a remarkable woman with her greatest achievement being the establishment of The Woollen Mill.  She employed over two hundred workers, she fostered a love of music, drama & sport among her employees. She oversaw the instruction of over eight hundred farmers in gardening, poultry breeding, with improved agricultural works.’ [xx]

Mother Morrogh – Bernard’s life was covered by Fox Patrick in ‘The Mayo News’ 9th March 2021 (pages 24 / 25)  He stated that Mother Morrogh – Bernard was synonymous with Foxford: she set up the Irish Sisters of Charity Providence Woollen Mills plus Convent during 1892.  She left a legacy in that she has been one of the most remarkable women to live in Mayo. [xxi]

Gargan Megs 2014 penned an article re Mother Morrogh – Bernard that may be viewed at this site:

Morrin Olive Special Collections & Archives features an image of Mother Morrogh – Bernard with an article on 23rd January 2017 this site:

Harrison Bridget 2022  ‘The Nun of Kenmare: the true fact’s’ PDF may be viewed at this site:

One may download the U. S. Historian Janet Davis Richardson’s 2004 ‘Margaret Anna Cusack, the Nun of Kenmare: A Voice for Justice in Ireland’  Catholic University of America Press Vol. 22 No. 3, Ireland and America: Religion, Politics & Social Movements ( pages 97 – 112) on this site:

Publications pertaining to The Nun of Kenmare include the following:

Irene ffrench Eager 1970 ‘The Nun of Kenmare’ Mercier Press

‘Margaret Anna Cusack: one woman’s campaign for women’s right’ Irene ffrench Eagar 1979 Arlen House

‘Margaret Anna Cusac’ 2008  Catherine Ferguson Gaelbooks. [xxii]

Nolan Gerry 2013 ‘Nun of Kenmare Embattled Religious Reformer’


[i] Agnes Morrogh – Bernard ( ) [assessed 12th September 2019]

[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] Agnes Bernard ( ) [assessed 13th September 2019]

[xvii] Ibid

[xviii] Things to do in Foxford ( ) [assessed 12th September 2019]

[xix] Agnes Bernard ( ) [assessed 13th September 2019]

[xx]  ‘The Mayo News’ 1st September 2020

[xxi]The Mayo News’ 9th March 2021

[xxii] The Nun of Kenmare |( [assessed 13th September 2019]


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