Library Dedicated to a Remarkable Woman

The plaque and its inscription which was unveiled at the library in Castleisland on Wednesday. ©Photograph: John Reidy

There are many things that need to be done in Castleisland in order to provide its storied past with a sound future. One major task, with deep and wide ranging implications, was performed at 5pm last evening.

It was carried off in the course of a heart-warming and simple ceremony.

Mayor Bobby O’Connell teamed up with a small band of Presentation Sisters: Sr. Maureen Kane, Sr. Mary Buckley and Sr. Theresa McAuliffe to have Castleisland’s fine, new – still new – library dedicated to the legacy and the memory of a remarkable, local woman.

Sandville House

The story of Mother Joseph Harnett (1798 – 1888) who was born in Sandville House is one intertwined with the harshness, unrelenting poverty and the huge, daily death toll so typical of the famine years in which she shone her particular light.

But for the light she and her sisters brought here during those days of constant darkness, the toll of famine-time deaths would have been far higher.

A relation of Mother Joseph Harnett’s, Michael Harnett and his wife Ann travelled from Co. Down for the ceremony. Mr. Harnett revealed that he had conducted quite detailed research on Mother Joseph. This was based on a book which had been written years ago by his father. His own book is ready to go to the printers and it will be welcomed by all those who attended the ceremony last evening.

Royal Blue Curtain

After Mayor O’Connell drew back the royal blue curtain on the plaque during that little ceremony yesterday evening, Castleisland Library is now dedicated to Mother Joseph Harnett.

It also highlights the contribution made by the Presentation Sisters to the education and well-being of the population of Castleisland and its hinterland down through all those years since the founding of the convent here in 1846.

Tributes were paid to the pioneering spirit of Mother Joseph and her sisters by speakers, Angela McAllen, Head of Finance, Kerry County Council; Mayor O’Connell and by Sister Pauline Casey, of the provincial team.

Nano Nagle Primary School

Mayor O’Connell recalled his own days at the Nano Nagle Primary School and, while he had the floor, he reminded the gathering that the Presentation Sisters were still giving for the good of the area.

They provided, free of charge in 2000, the site on which the Castleisland Day Care Centre now stands and, more recently, donated extra space for an extension there.

Sister Pauline Casey said that they knew not what the future holds for Castleisland and its cherished and long association with the Presentation Sisters and their convent.

“I feel that the plaque being unveiled and the fact that it is dedicated to Mother Joseph Harnett will remind generations to come of that vital link when all here today will be gone,” she said.