Mother Morrogh – Bernard

Neptune's Fountain, Royscot House, Cheltenham 1995 Rodhullandemu,_Royscot_House,_Cheltenham.jpg
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.  [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.  [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.  [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.  [iv]

Novitiate / Profession

She celebrated her twenty-first birthday on 24th February 1863.  Agnes Morrogh 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.  She was professed on 16th January 1866.  [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.  [vi]


During October 1869 she suffered a serious illness.  This was followed by convalescence at a convent in Donnybrook. [vii]


On her recovery she was appointed an attendant to Mountjoy Street School.  [viii]


She was employed as an a staff member at Lakelands Orphanage.  [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)   [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. [xii]


Mother M. Arsenius founded the Foxford brass & reed band during 1897.  [xiii]

Handball Alley

Due to her efforts a handball alley was built beside the bridge on Ballina Road during 1908.  [xiv]

Music School

She opened a music school in Foxford during 1923.   [xv]

Gaelic Culture

Mother M. Arsenius 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]

Further Information

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

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

Mother Morrogh-Bernard the founder was displayed for some years in an audio-visual presentation with models at the woollen mills tour: 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 The Mayo News 1st September 2020  (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 & 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:


[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 

[xxi] The Mayo News


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