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The many lives of Manresa House

Manresa, Jesuit Centre of Spirituality, is hosting a special event for Culture Night 2015 on Friday 18 September, the celebration of Dublin’s heritage and history which is in its tenth year. As part of the event Manresa House will be the subject of a lecture “The many lives of Baymount Castle: the history of a Dollymount house” and limited access will be provided to the castle. The lecture which will be given by local historian Bernardine Ruddy will look at the history of the building which, in 250 years of occupancy, has been previously known as Granby Hill and Baymount Castle.

The Jesuit Community are the longest continuous occupants of the building since it was leased by George Vernon in 1763. It was once the residence of Dr. Traill, a northern Church of Ireland Bishop before it was renovated in 1838 by Robert Warren and later owned by the Irish Loreto Sisters who had a school there. Gutted by fire in 1851, the Sisters had it renovated again, sold it, and moved to Balbriggan. In 1898 the building became the property of Lord Ardilaun, a member of the Guinness family and owner of the adjoining St. Anne’s estate. About the beginning of the First World War, William Lucas Scott opened a preparatory school for boys which continued until 1936, when it was acquired by John T. Gwynn, of the well-known literary family. The Jesuits purchased the property after the Archbishop of Dublin asked the congregation to establish a north-side retreat house in 1948.

Meanwhile prayer, art, dance, music, dreams and films are among the many aspects of life addressed in the new programme of retreats, course and events for the Autumn/Winter season at Manresa. The new season sees the return of some regular programmes as well as the introduction of some new courses to reflect on faith and life and honour God’s presence in the everyday.

‘Spirituality in Prayer and Song’ directed by Tom McGuinness SJ – a new member of the Manresa staff, will offer participants the opportunity to consider favourite poems and music and to reflect on them prayerfully. ‘Dreams – the Real Agenda’ is a course that will explore the way dreams can point to places of growth, healing and surprise; while the ‘Expressing the Creative Spirit’ series will explore how feelings, thoughts and memories are brought to life by what we see.

Other events in the Autumn programme include ‘Laudato Si – Caring for our Common Home’ – a weekend retreat from 25-27 September led by Paddy Greene SJ, which will reflect on Pope Francis’s second encyclical and his call for a new dialogue about how we are shaping the future of our planet; and ‘Consecrated Life: A Living Tradition within the Church’ – a retreat from 23-26 October directed by Brian O’Leary SJ, which will offer reflection and appreciation on the charisms of consecrated life.

Manresa also offers regular opportunities for Oasis days, training in spiritual direction, directed or preached retreats and Exercises in Daily Life, details of which are available on their website. These programmes have been especially popular over the summer months. Piaras Jackson SJ, director of the centre of spirituality explained how during that time the centre facilitated hundreds of people to “spend time in the quiet, being touched by God’s mercy, each one a sign of hope and faith”.