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Penal Laws

The Penal Laws for Ireland between 1723 and 1782, were imposed in an attempt to compel Irish Roman Catholics and Protestant dissenters to conform to the established faith of the Anglican Church, or Church of Ireland, and being forbidden to travel to the continent to be educated. These Penal Laws specifically targeted education by the Catholic religious orders, whose wealthier establishments were sometimes confiscated. These laws were further reinforced by the Act of Union of 1800 by Article V which “united the established Church of England and Church of Ireland into "one Protestant Episcopal Church, to be called, The United Church of England and Ireland"; but also confirmed the independence of the Church of Scotland.”

In total defiance of these Penal Laws, Bishop of the Diocese of Cloyne, Doctor William Coppinger (1753 - 1830) who hailed of Barryscourt, with Bishop Francis Moylan (1735 - 1815) of Cork Diocese were instrumental in returning Nano Nagle (1718 - 1784) from Paris to her native Cork, a as a member of the Ursuline order. Here Nano established her seven schools across Cork City for the poor Catholic children of the City between 1754 and 1757; the first of which was at Cove Lane, the site of the South Presentation Convent. By 1802, Edmund Ignatius Rice (1762 - 1844) established his Christian Brothers Order, and his first school in Waterford. Then some years later in Cork City he established Presentation Brothers.

In a letter published by the Dublin Weekly Recorder, 4th May 1822, Bishop of Cloyne and Ross, William Coppinger made the following observation in relation to Carrigtwohill:

“… I then returned to the diocese of Cloyne, where, in the Parish of Carrigtwohill, I found three schoolmasters with 171 scholars.”