the departure of the Dawson-Damer family to
1929, the Society of Jesus decided to look for a new novitiate house which
would be suitably remote and peaceful.
House was opened as the Novitiate of the
Jesuits had bought the house, the gardens with walks,terraces and the Grapery behind it, the walled
garden with glasshouses, and the lake. They also had right of way around the
lake. Much of the original estate had been retained by the Land Commission and
was let out to local farmers and there was also a
Changes had to be made to turn the family home into an institution. There had always been some difficulties with water but these were sorted by taking a supply via the lake from the Toberkine well. 3000 gallons a day were pumped to the house.
A large shed (called the ambulacrum) was raised at the back of the house so that exercise could still be taken in bad weather. This shelter was used as a temporary chapel while alterations were being made within the house.
Central heating and washing facilities had to be installed. Bedrooms had to be turned into dormitories.
Perhaps most importantly, a chapel had to be constructed by amalgamating the rotunda and the (now) library and removing columns, doors, a mantlepiece and walls. Anything that was removed was stored in the basement.
The ballroom or saloon (originally the library) at the east end of the house became the community refectory, and the marble columns here too were removed and stored.
altogether barbaric record” says Fr Anthony Symondson
in his article in the Irish Arts Review
1997 ‘A Miraculous Survival:
In 1958, dry rot was discovered and the roof needed repairs. There was damp in the Bachelors’ Quarters, where some of the Jesuits slept. More space was needed also. Michael Scott, the well-known architect, was consulted and recommended pulling down the whole building and starting afresh. This was not done, but extensive repairs and rebuilding were carried out at the instigation of the Rector, Fr Donal O’Sullivan, and oil-fired central heating was installed. Overall, £40,000 was spent on building works by the Jesuits.
60s, it became apparent that St Mary’s was too isolated for the more modern
ideas about training novices for work with the Society. The Novitiate moved to Manresa House in north
In the late 60s, the number of Novices had diminished, so that in the final years at St Mary’s, there were 15 Novices, of whom 6 had dropped out during their two years training. This meant that it was exceedingly expensive to run the house for so few men, even with visitors coming to stay for various reasons. In September 1969, the Jesuits left Emo for Manresa House in Dollymount. Over 500 young men had begun their lives as Jesuits at Emo.