Pair must block up window overlooking enclosed order

Fri, Jul 13, 2012, 01:00

A DUBLIN businessman and his wife, whose main bedroom window overlooks the convent of an enclosed order of nuns, have been told by a judge to block it up.

John and Ita Murray, Wesbury, Upper Kilmacud Road, Stillorgan, had been sued on breach of privacy grounds by the nuns of the Carmelite order at Kilmacud.

James Doherty, for the nuns, told Judge Jacqueline Linnane that the Murrays built an extension to their home which included the offending window overlooking the convent and grounds.

When the convent sold some of its lands for housebuilding in the 1970s, the title documents included a restrictive covenant which subsequently attached to the deeds of any successor in title, he said.

The clause legally precluded any householder fitting windows above a height of 10 feet which directly overlooked the convent and grounds.

Jadel Naidoo, for the Murrays, told the Circuit Civil Court that when the couple bought their house in 2001, they had not been made aware of a restrictive covenant in their title.

The couple joined their then solicitors Conor O’Reilly and Frank Egan, practising as Egan O’Reilly solicitors, as a third party defendant to the proceedings.

Carmelite prioress, Sr Mary Brigeen said the nuns were often referred to as “hermits in community”. The restrictive covenant fully protected the privacy of the convent and grounds and she felt they had a duty to protect their enclosure for the future.

She said some houses on the Wesbury boundary had dormer windows with an oblique view of the convent but none directly overlooked the convent and its rooms as obtrusively as the Murrays’ bedroom window did.

While the nuns found the legal proceedings distressing and contrary to what they would wish, they valued and wished to protect their enclosure and reluctantly had to take action, she said.

Mr Murray said he had not been aware of the restrictive covenant when he bought the house or when he negotiated his remortgaging and obtained planning permission for the extension.

To block up the window in his new main bedroom, the only one in the house with en suite facilities, would leave the room in complete darkness.

The case settled yesterday with a consent court order directing the Murrays to block up their bedroom window and not to open any other window in the room in breach of the covenant.

An order for legal costs against the Murrays was made in favour of the nuns with a consent “order over” directing Egan O’Reilly Solicitors to pay the Murrays’ costs.

Mr Murray later said he would “very possibly” have to turn his bedroom into a store room, as fire regulations meant it could not be used as a bedroom without a window.

The convent was “a football field away” and he would not normally see the nuns, he said. He had “better things to be doing”.