The Main House
This heritage house, built by John Darragh, a former lord mayor of Dublin, can be described as a two storey over basement, five bay, Georgian residence with projecting semi-hexagonal bay to the west, parapet hipped roof to east, treble hipped “a” roofs to west. Venetian windows with sidelights feature on both principal facades. The house retains many original features, including decorative plaster ceilings, stone flooring, vaulted construction to basement level, staircases and internal joinery of architectural and historic importance. The original house was completed c.1782. The facade was brickwork, but is now concealed behind painted render. The three-storey extension to the north is possibly mid 19th century. The facade of this extension was set back from the original, thereby retaining the symmetry of the original.
Photographic evidence from the 1870’s illustrates the former grandeur of the lower walled garden complete with an extensive glassed greenhouse, tea-house and ornamental bridge. The walls and entrances remain. It still features a meandering stream, the bridge base and the old tea-house, presently in need of restoration.This lower garden is now overgrown.There is a second walled garden adjacent to the house which is well maintained. Originally it is thought to have had a tennis court as well as fruit trees. It now has a vegetable patch, fruit trees and flower beds, as well as a small greenhouse.
The estate is still farmed and used as grazing for livestock. The original estate area has been reduced by the donation of sites for the adjacent church and school and a plot given to the Saint Vincent de Paul Society. The southern of the two gate lodges has been demolished. The original driveway configuration and width survives with some railings retained. That the house and estate have remained in a legible form over their 250 year history, through two different ownerships, is a key element of significance. The main house retains sufficient original and authentic design, detail and fabric that are of architectural and historic merit. The tenure of the religious order (Holy Faith Sisters) has added another layer of social significance to the property. The educational and boarding facilities that were set up within the estate provide a historic link for those who attended or contributed to these facilities. The continuation of formation, spiritual and ecclesiastical foundations, on what was the original estate, provides links to the community, and inclusion to local society. The remaining original estate lands provide the setting to the buildings, which is inseparable from the history to which it bears witness. The history is physically manifest in the mature designed landscapes.
The main house is undoubtedly the principal element of the estate, being the Protected Structure. The other elements, being both ancillary and associated to the house, give additional significance and meaning to it. In the case of the outbuildings and the schoolhouse, these are evidence of the main building’s evolution from landed residence to educational, ecclesiastical use and its current use as a centre for spirituality. They are important and essential to the full understanding of the development of the house over time.The formal gardens and estate provide a physical reminder of the grandeur and scale of the original development, and are inextricably associated with it.
The Holy Faith Sisters have been in residence since 1897 working in the fields of education and pastoral and spirituality work in the local area. In 2004 the ministry of the Luisne Centre for Spirituality began, first mainly in the local school and at present almost exclusively in the main convent.The ambience of the main house and landscape enhance the work of Luisne and are in keeping with its vision.
Open and without walls, Luisne is a contemporary monastic settlement inspired by the early Celtic monasteries and the scientific revelation that all life is intimately interconnected and richly diversified.Believing that truth is multi-faceted and spirituality is common to people of all cultural backgrounds, Luisne welcomes people of all faiths and none. Luisne encourages its replication wherever it is needed to improve the local or global community and to demonstrate respect for and preservation of all life.