Mother Morrogh – Bernard

Neptune's Fountain, Royscot House, Cheltenham 1995 Rodhullandemu,_Royscot_House,_Cheltenham.jpg
Cork City Hall 2014 William Murphy
Paris Plains Church 1845 Mac Armstrong,_1845,_cobblestone_architecture.jpg
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, Gloucestershire,  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]


She was home schooled by her mother in early years prior to her study at Laural Hill Convent in Limerick for three years.  During those years she realized her desire for a Religious life.  She returned to Shehree House for a year.  Then travelled to the Continent to continue her education at Daimes Anglaises Convent in Paris during 1858.  By 1860 she had made the decision to enter a Convent in the future.  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.  She was Professed on 16th January 1866.  (Rosaleen Snee Gaughan)  [iii]


St. Morrogh – Bernard was posted to teach in Gardner Street School in Dublin.  After a few months she was sent to Kings Inns School. (Rosaleen Snee Gaughan)  [iv]


During October 1869 she suffered a serious illness.  This was followed by convalescence at a Convent in Donnybrook.  On her recovery she was appointed an attendant to Mountjoy Street School prior to a time at Lakelands Orphanage. (Rosaleen Snee Gaughan)  [v]


During April 1877 – known as Mother M. Arsenius – she moved to Ballaghaderreen 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)  [vi]


A suggestion was made by the Sisters of Charity Conference to open a Convent in Mayo at Foxford.  With some friends plus 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 decided that the small weaving & spinning business from Ballaghaderreen could be transferred to Foxford on a larger scale.  By 1892 the Foxford Woollen Mills was founded.  She opened a school.  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 encouraged sports plus music, she founded the Foxford Brass & Reed Band during 1897.  Due to her efforts a Handball Alley was built during 1908.  She opened a Music School in 1923.  She was instrumental in the building of a Convent Chapel during 1925.  She continued to upgrade & improve the Woollen Mills during her time in the area.  (Rosaleen Snee Gaughan)  [vii]   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.  Mother Morrogh – Bernard’s demise occurred in the Convent on 20th April 1932, she was interred within the convent grounds. [viii]


According to ‘Virtue of a Mill’ the River Moy provided the power, the sheep farmed locally provided the wool plus locals provided the labour. [ix]

Mother Morrogh – Bernard is mentioned in ‘Agnes Morrow – Bernard: Foundress of Foxford’ Mulloy Margaret, 2014, Mercier Press, with a foreword by Mary Robinson.  Another mention of her is in a book entitled ‘Mother Mary Asenius of Foxford.’ Gildea Denis 1936, Burns, Oates & Washbourne  [x]

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 plus images may be viewed at this site:

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

Rev. Fr. Kevin Hegarty mentions Mother Morrogh – Bernard in his column ‘Second Reading’ on page 27 of 1st September 2020’s edition of Mayo News.  He refers 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.’

Mother Morrogh – Bernard’s life is covered in the Mayo News 9th March 2021 on pages 24 – 25 by Patrick Fox.  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, that she one of the most remarkable women to live in Mayo.

Conor Mc Guire on page 30 in ‘The Western People’ dated 21 st  September 2021 wrote an article on Mother Agnes Morrogh – Bernard: ‘Nun’s influence on Foxford was remarkable.’ 


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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