In 1913, the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) purchased the 16th century-built Rathfarnham Castle from a Dublin building company, Bailey and Gibson. Initially, the plan was for a noviciate for Jesuit novices and in time, for working men’s retreats to be established at the Castle. However, by September 1913, this had changed to a house of studies for those Jesuits attending university. This decision was made following the change of regulations to the National University requiring students to attend lectures whereas previously they could be prepared for examinations elsewhere. The Jesuit Juniors as they were known would live at the Castle and cycle to lectures at University College Dublin, then located at Earlsfort Terrace in the centre of Dublin.
The Jesuits engaged the architect, Charles B. Powell to modify the Castle in the summer of 1913.
Some Jesuits on mission staff lived there. Became a home for tertian fathers (those Jesuits taking a renewal course following ordination) in 1940.
The Venerable John Sullivan SJ (1861-1933) was Rector of Rathfarnham Castle for the years 1919-1924. Sullivan was a convert and the son of Sir Edward Sullivan, Lord Chancellor of Ireland (1883-1885). Sullivan’s rectorship was significant for the building of the retreat house in 1922, (working men’s retreats at the weekends and boy’s during the week). The Castle continued to function as a Juniorate until 1975 and for retreats until 1986 when the Jesuits sold Rathfarnham Castle. The following year, it was purchased for the nation by the Office of Public Works.
Archival History ↴
Material collected by Irish Jesuits.
Immediate Source Acquisition ↴
Content & Structure
Scope & Content: Irish Jesuits ↴
The papers of Rathfarnham Castle concern: the management of the Castle 1911-1995), the Jesuit community (1913-1985), history of Rathfarnham Castle (1912-1994), farm (1917-1920), seismograph (1918-1954) and retreats (1922-1995). Material is in the form of letters, plans, maps and photographs.
Appraisal Destruction ↴
All items retained permanently
No further accruals expected
Material was catalogued in 1999, with some additions in 2009 and 2013.
Conditions of Access & Use
The Irish Jesuit Archives are open only to bona fide researchers. Access by advance appointment. Further details: www.jesuitarchives.ie
Conditions Governing Reproduction
No material may be reproduced without the written permission of the Archivist. Copyright restrictions apply. Photocopying is not available. Digital photography is at the discretion of the Archivist.
IE IJA/ADMN/3 - purchase of Rathfarnham Castle
The forty books at Rathfarnham Castle relate to the period in the twentieth century when it was owned by the Society of Jesus. They are all of a religious nature and were donated to the OPW by Fr. Edmund O'Keeffe S.J. in 1998. Twelve of them, bearing various Jesuit library bookplates, were in a box with the note 'room of Fr. John Sullivan S.J.'. They were found in Fr. Sullivan's room at the time of his death. He had been Rector of Rathfarnham Cast le from 1919-1924.
Ingram, Fr Richard SJ & Troddyn, Fr Peter. M. SJ. ‘Earthquake recording at Rathfarnham Castle’. Irish Jesuit Directory and Year Book, pp139-147, 1938.
Leaflet on Rathfarnham Castle history from 16th to 20th century, produced by the Office of Public Works. c. 1990.
McMahon, Fr T. SJ: ‘Old Rathfarnham Days’, Dublin Historical Record, Vol. 40, No. 4 (Sep., 1987), pp. 143-144. ‘Rathfarnham Castle’, Dublin Historical Record, Vol. 41, No. 1 (Dec., 1987), pp. 21-23.
O'Sullivan SJ, Fr Donal. ‘Inside the noviceship’, pp20-28, Jesuit Year Book, 1955.
‘Rathfarnham Castle’, Jesuit Year Book, pp92-93, 1960.
Scantlebury, Fr Charles SJ, ’Rathfarnham Castle’ in Dublin Historical Record, Vol. XII, No. 1 (Feb., 1951), pp. 20-30.
Somerfield, Dr. A.E. ‘Rathfarnham Castle once shook to another beat’, Lifetimes, c.1995.
Visitors’ guide on Rathfarnham Castle history from 16th to 20th century, produced by the Office of Public Works. 2008.
Walsh, Louise.’ Rathfarnham Castle: A history.’ 1995.
Descriptive Control Area
IGAD: Irish Guidelines for Archival Description. Dublin: Society of Archivists, Ireland, 2009.
ISAD(G): General International Standard Archival Description. 2nd ed. Ottowa: International Council on Archives, 2000.
National Council on Archives: Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names. Chippenham: National Council on Archives, 1997. Irish Guidelines for Indexing Archives. Dublin: Archives and Records Association, Ireland, 2013