Papers of Loreto Convent, Navan, Co. Meath

Repository: Loreto Central and Irish Province Archives

Identity Statement

TitlePapers of Loreto Convent, Navan, Co. Meath
Archive ReferenceIE LA/NAV
Web Link to this Entry
Creation Dates1818-2005
Extent Medium62 Archival Boxes + outsize items


Creator(s): Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Loreto), Navan, Co. Meath

  • Administrative History ↴

    Loreto Navan boarding and day school offering primary and second level education, convent, novitiate and farm were established by the Irish branch of the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Loreto) in 1833. It was the first foundation made by M. Teresa Ball, and was established under the patronage of Rev. John Cantwell, Bishop of Meath. In 1836, Loreto Navan officially separated from the Generalate in Rathfarnham, and was officially brought under the jurisdiction of the Diocese of Meath. Loreto Navan evolved and developed as an independent foundation. The constitutions observed there were based on the constitutions observed in Loreto Abbey Rathfarnham, but adapted to allow for the jurisdiction of the local bishop. The Superior General and General Council administered this branch of the Institute from 1833 – 1905 from St Anne’s, and thereafter from the newly built St Michael’s. Although an independent foundation, it remained a part of the wider community of the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary throughout Europe. A novitiate for the training, education and formation of young women was established in 1833. In the second half of the 20th century, declining numbers meant that Loreto Navan was unable to sustain a novitiate. In 1968 it was decided that all novices and newly professed sisters from Loreto Navan would complete their religious training at Loreto Abbey Rathfarnham. On the arrival of the Loreto community in Navan, a large free school was opened, followed in August 1833, by a day (fee paying) school. A boarding school was opened on 1 September 1834. The boarding school accepted its last pupils in 1980, and closed its doors in 1985. Missionary houses were established in Ireland, East India, England, South Africa and America. Foundations were made in Balbriggan in 1857 and Mullingar in 1881. The first foreign mission was established in Dacca, East India in 1847; war forced its closure in 1858. Missions were established in Kidderminster (1858) and Leek (1860) in England, and a mission in Leith (1863), Scotland. Kidderminster and Leith both failed due to financial reasons, Leith in 1866 and Kidderminster in 1869. In 1877, a mission was undertaken in Pretoria, South Africa, and continued in difficult circumstances until 1904, when it was united with Rathfarnham. The final foreign mission founded from Loreto Navan was made in Phoenix, Arizona in 1954 in the parish of SS Simon & Jude, Phoenix City. In 1966, negotiations began towards amalgamation or reunion of Navan with Rathfarnham. Union with the German branch of the Institute was considered but rejected. By 1969, a process of discernment and voting was completed and the three houses under the jurisdiction of Loreto Navan (St Anne’s, St Michael’s and Mullingar) were amalgamated with Rathfarnham. The mission in Arizona was asked to choose between an amalgamation with Toronto (Generalate of the North American branch) and Rathfarnham. In 1970, the mission in Arizona was also amalgamated with Rathfarnham.
  • Archival History ↴

    The material in this fonds was created, or received, by the General and Local Superiors and members of the community of Loreto Navan, and its missions, from 1833 – 2005. Material was periodically transferred to Loreto Central and Irish Province Archives; the bulk of material was transferred in 2008.
  • Immediate Source Acquisition ↴

    Official Transfer

Content & Structure

  • Scope & Content: Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Loreto), Navan, Co. Meath ↴

    The papers of Loreto Navan, consists of the papers of the Generalate, local community, novitiate, and missions administered from Loreto Navan, Co. Meath.
    The papers of Loreto Navan contain a wealth of information for those interested in religious sisters, education in Ireland, women’s history, education in the British Empire, and local history.
    Minutes of community, local council meetings, amendments and corrections to constitutions, rules and customs observed by the houses under Loreto Navan, regulations from the Superior General establishing or modifying rules for behaviour, customs and religious observances and letters from M. Kieran Duigenan, Superior General (1943-1949), reflect the administration of the Generalate, in series NAV/ADM. As a branch of separate from Rathfarnham, the Generalate at Navan had to communicate with Church authorities in Rome, NAV/VAT, for permission, degrees and indulgences.
    Registers of women who entered the novitiate are included in NAV/NOV.
    Minutes of the General Chapters and the General Councils 1950s – 1960s, acts of election recording the election of delegates and General Councillors 1922 – 1963, along with annual reports are included in NAV/GEN.
    Accounts, bequests and legacies and material relating to benefactors, can be found in NAV/FIN.
    The annals of Loreto Navan, NAV/ANN, record events of significance to the community, visitors, professions, ill health and death, changes of sisters, and other items.
    Letters received by successive Superior Generals, Loreto Navan, NAV/CSG, include letters from Superior Generals, Loreto Abbey Rathfarnham; letters from Bishops of Meath and Bishops of other dioceses; Archbishops of Dublin including Dr Murray, Archbishop of Dublin and Dr Cullen, Archbishop of Dublin, and letters from members of the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Also present are letters from members of the clergy, other religious and seculars.
    Two attempts at the amalgamation of the wider global Institute in 1900, and the amalgamation with Loreto Rathfarnham in 1969, are reflected in NAV/AML.
    Documents relating to the foundations made in Ireland and abroad are present in NAV/BAL and NAV/MUL and the NAV/MIS series.
    Also present are reading material of a spiritual nature and a selection of books, articles, booklets and pamphlets acquired and used by the community at Loreto Navan.
    Attempts in the early 20th Century to secure the beatification of Mary Ward, 17th century foundress of the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary are included in NAV/MWD.
    Material relating to the sale, conveyance, lease and building works undertaken on land and property belonging to the local Loreto community in Navan are documented in NAV/LAN.
    School records NAV/SCH include financial records, sodality registers, building works, extra-curricular activities including music, choir, and drama. A large collection of photographs NAV/PHO document community and school in Loreto Navan.

  • Appraisal Destruction ↴

    Permanent Retention
  • Arrangement ↴

    Previous arrangement and cataloguing of the papers had been undertaken in the General Archives, but a decision was taken in 2009 to update the catalogues in order to bring them to ISAD(G) 2006
    standards. Care has been taken, where possible, to retain the original order in which the documents were arranged. The papers of Loreto Navan have been arranged into 29 series, arranged according to the functions of the Generalate and community, (administration, novitiate, missions, etc).

Conditions of Access & Use

Access Conditions Generally Open Access by Appointment Some access restrictions may apply, and access is at the discretion of the Archivist.
Conditions Governing ReproductionReproduction is dependent on condition of original item
Creation Dates1818-2005
Extent Medium62 Archival Boxes + outsize items
Material Language ScriptEnglish
Characteristics Tech ReqBound volumes + loose documents. Some items may be difficult to read. Careful handling is required.
Finding Aids Catalogue can be consulted in Loreto Central and Irish Province Archives, Reading Room. Archive Web Link →

Allied Materials

There are no Allied Materials

Descriptive Control Area

Archivist NoteÁine Mc Hugh
Rules/ConventionsISAD(G): General International Standard Archival Description. 2nd ed. Ottowa: International Council on Archives, 2000.
Date of Descriptions40969