'Godpods' to open in September at Glenstal

Last week the ground was broken for the first of two hermitage-style accommodation units modelled on ancient monastic beehive huts which will come on stream in Glenstal Abbey, Co. Limerick, in the next month. 

The Benedictine abbey’s 'Godpods' will be made available for guests who wish to take time out for private reflection or rest.  The Glenstal monks decided to build the units, which are located on the edge of a wooded area on the abbey grounds, because of a big increase in demand for their guesthouse and people wanting time out from their lives.

They were assisted with funding the development by a €200,000 donation from the JP McManus Pro-Am Fund.  The eco-friendly units were designed by Solearth Ecological Architecture and include solar panels, water collection and biomass heating.

Architect Brian O’Brien said the ‘Godpods’ were, “conceived as being a series of hides straddling the ecotone where forest and meadow overlap, made of natural materials and constructed to nestle into the oak trees.”

Fr Simon Sleeman of the Glenstal community said they are self-contained so users can choose to be completely solitary, but if they want, they can still visit the Abbey and attend its church services.

“We actually had bookings for September but we had to put them back because they are not going to be ready,” he said.  “The weather has been against us, to do an outside job has been very difficult,” he explained.

Fr Sleeman praised the millionaire businessman for helping with the venture and said that the abbot of Glenstal, in his proposal to the JP McManus Fund, had pointed out that one of the services the Abbey could offer, “to our beleaguered society,” was to, “offer time and space for people to have time-out, to be alone without noise, over-crowding, or technological intrusion.”

The abbot said that many people are living lives of, “quiet desperation full of tensions, which are unavoidable,” and need, “a place to go where they can recover and take stock.”

“Many people in the front line of our social services are experiencing burn-out from the pressures of their ever-expanding work-load and from the ever-increasing number of people in need,” the submission continued.

by Fintan Deere

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