Augustinian retreat in Rathfarnham bought for €2.85m

Georgian mansion Orlagh on 100 acres to be used as medical centre or hospitality facility

A former Augustinian novitiate and retreat centre on almost 100 acres at Old Court Road, Rathfarnham, Dublin 16, is expected to be used either as a medical centre or hospitality facility following its sale for €2.85 million.

The Georgian mansion, Orlagh, and its sweeping parklands on Gunny Hill have been bought by a London-based investor with strong local connections along with his brother, an orthopaedic surgeon at Beacon Hospital, and a number of close friends.

The main purchaser, who asked not to be named, said they had some firm ideas about the future use of Orlagh but was not rushing any of them while they figured out the best long-term use for the house and grounds.

“We would like to do something positively contributing to this area of Dublin that is underserviced whether it be medical uses or something in the hospitality industry. I am very mindful of the plans for both the Spawell and the Hell Fire Club and am respectful of the various stakeholders in the area,” the purchaser said.


Modern extensions

The Augustinian order acquired the Orlagh estate in 1872 for use as a novitiate and since 1997 has been using it as a retreat and conference centre. The house is particularly spacious with a floor area of 1,608sq m (17,308sq ft) including 31 bedrooms, an oratory, a drawingroom and three interconnecting rooms for dining and entertaining.

A timber-framed glazed cloister connects the large house to two modern 1960s extensions to the rear. The grounds have a range of leisure facilities including a walled garden, streams and tree-lined walking trails, a farmyard, a handball alley and outdoor swimming pool, all in need of upgrading.

The Augustinian order said that after much consideration it was decided to sell Orlagh Retreat Centre as part of an overall rationalisation of its facilities.

“Regretfully we are no longer in a position to maintain this historic property which was not being used to its full capacity for many years. We, not unlike other religious communities, are also experiencing a major reduction in the personnel available to manage such a centre and this was also a factor in making this difficult decision,” it said.

Lisa McInerney of GVA Donal O Buachalla, who handled the sale, said the estate had attracted strong bidding from both Irish and overseas interests. This was hardly surprising because the Orlagh lands were located "on the edge of suburbia" with future development potential subject to zoning.

Jack Fagan

Jack Fagan

Jack Fagan is the former commercial-property editor of The Irish Times