Work on ‘Godpods’ in Glenstal Abbey in County Limerick nearing completion

Donal O’Regan


Donal O’Regan

THE NOVEL “Godpods” thought up by the monks of Glenstal Abbey will be heaven sent when they are completed.

THE NOVEL “Godpods” thought up by the monks of Glenstal Abbey will be heaven sent when they are completed.

It’s been a hell of a summer but they hope that the two ‘Godpods” will be finished by the end of September.

Centuries ago monks found spirituality in the solitude of beehive huts and now the monks in Glenstal are continuing that ethos with a modern twist.

The monks came up with the idea in 2010 after seeing a big increase in demand for their guesthouse and people wanting “time-out” from their lives.

Thanks to a €200,000 donation from the JP McManus Pro-Am Fund, Glenstal commissioned Solearth Ecological Architecture to design their “Godpods”.

They are eco-friendly and include solar panels, water collection and biomass heating. They are situated on the edge of a wooded area on their grounds in Murroe.

Fr Simon Sleeman says they are self-contained so people can completely get away from it all, but still travel to the monastery and attend church service if they so wish. And they have already seen a lot of interest.

“We actually had bookings for September but we had to put them back because they are not going to be ready. The weather has been against us, to do an outside job has been very difficult,” said Fr Simon, who thanked JP McManus for making the project possible.

If Mr McManus ever feels like a break from Martinstown, Fr Simon said they are offering him first refusal on a stay there.

They plan an official opening once they are completed and Fr Simon says the Abbot of Glenstal, Mark Patrick Hederman, is particularly delighted with their progress. The “Godpods” are being built by their own labour under carpenter Pat Daly.

The Abbot wrote in his proposal to the JP McManus Fund that “one of the services, we as a monastery can supply to our beleaguered society, is to offer time and space for people to have ‘time-out’, to be alone without noise, over-crowding, or technological intrusion.”

He said that many people are living lives of quiet desperation full of tensions which are unavoidable.

“They lack 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,” wrote Br Hederman.

He says that such people require an oasis where they can refresh themselves, where they can get away and be guaranteed complete freedom.

Architect Brian O’Brien, of Solearth said: “They are 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.” See for updates on the progress of the “Godpods”.