Poustinias, Comeragh Mountains, County Tipperary, Ireland

architects Architects Bates Maher
project Single/Two Person Retreat Dwellings, Ireland
written by Alexander Kearney


Glencomeragh House is a retreat centre and house of prayer run by the Catholic Rosminian order for people of all faiths, and none, since 1990. Its setting is a picturesque valley between the Comeragh mountains and the peak of Slievenamon, on the very border between Counties Tipperary and Waterford in Ireland’s South-East. The commission – to provide self-contained units for spiritual rest and contemplation – would seem a godsend to any practice just starting out, and here Architects Bates Maher have seized the opportunity with assurance and vision. The scheme was informed by the concept of “Poustinia”, deriving from an old Russian word for ’desert’ and used to designate a small cabin or room set aside for silence and prayer. Where it surely differs from any of its predecessors is in its spatial sophistication and command of site.