Call for exhumation of ‘Little Nellie’ to allow faithful to pray

Bishop of Cork wants remains of Ellen Organ to be moved from convent grounds

The Bishop of Cork hopes the body of a five-year-old girl who died more than 100 years ago can be exhumed to allow people to pray at her graveside.

Bishop John Buckley has called for the remains of "Little Nellie" (Ellen Organ – depicted in the illustration above) to be moved from the grounds of a convent bought by developers in 2005.

The now-derelict Good Shepherd Convent at Sunday's Well became the property of Ulster Bank and KPMG in 2010. Gaining graveside access required permission from the owners, Dr Buckley said. "They would be reluctant from a security point of view," he said.

Little Nellie was born in 1903 and became known for a spiritual awareness deemed extraordinary for a young child. She suffered from TB and was placed in the care of the nuns at the Good Shepherd Convent in 1907. She died in 1908 but received Holy Communion before her death, prompting Pope St Pius X to lower the age for communicants from 12 to seven.


“She was buried in St Joseph’s Cemetery but was exhumed and reburied within the convent grounds at the nuns’ request,” Dr Buckley said.

At the time of the exhumation, a year after Nellie’s death, her remains were found to be intact.

“There were four people present at that first exhumation, including two nurses, and they witnessed her body was intact. After her reburial, many favours were recorded,” Dr Buckley said.