The Hermitage aka Odin's Rest is a late eighteenth-century classical house, built circa 1786. It was commissioned by the State Dentist Edward Hudson of St. Stephen’s Green as a country retreat, hence the name. Hudson leased these lands (the ‘Fields of Odin’, now St. Enda's Park) from Thomas Connolly of Castletown House. Hudson's garden monuments and follies were built in imitation of ancient Irish field monuments, including the ogham stone which bears his name.
Across the road stood The Priory – home of John Philpot Curran a famous lawyer. His daughter, Sarah Curran, was the sweetheart of the rebel Robert Emmet. Legend has it that Hudson allowed the two young lovers to meet in the grounds of the Hermitage away from the disapproving stares of her father.
The Hermitage was inherited by Hudson's son, William Elliot Hudson, who shared his father’s fascination with Irish history (and in particular the Irish language). William was a friend of Thomas Davis and a founder of the Celtic Society. He was also a lawyer and was involved in the defence of the Young Irelanders, Thomas Francis Meagher and William Smith O’Brien, following their rebellion in 1848.
In 1847, Husdon sold The Hermitage to a legal colleague, Justice Richard Moore (the man who would who eventually pass sentence on Meagher and Smith O’Brien).
In 1859, Moore sold the property to Major Richard Doyne, a veteran of the Crimean War. It was then inherited by his son, Lieutenant-Colonel Philip Kavanagh Doyne, who spent much of his life serving with the British Army in India.
In 1898, The Hermitage was purchased by William Woodbyrne who had made his fortune in the diamond mines of South Africa. Woodbyrne made many improvements to the grounds, including the creation of the ornamental lake. He never lived in the house (as his wife contracted TB requiring they move to a warmer climate) and rented it to a series of tenants instead.
Scoil Éanna aka St. Enda's School for Boys (est. 1908 at Cullenswood House, Ranelagh by Pádraig Pearse) moved to the Hermitage in Rathfarnham in the summer of 1910. Having felt drawn by the above story, the Hermitage was perfect for Pearse's idyllic image of what he had hoped to achieve. The new location was too long a commute for its day pupils however and proved to be a financial disaster. Pearse's involvement in activities that led up to the Easter Rising (in which 15 of his students took part) also left St. Enda's with a less devoted master than it had previously. Following the execution of the Pearse brothers in 1916, their mother reopened St. Enda's back at Cullenwood House in Ranelagh.
The international fame the rising had given Pearse and his martyrdom facilitated fund-raising however, and the school returned to the Hermitage in 1919. Within a year Margaret Pearse had raised enough to purchase the property outright. However, St. Enda's would not last, and eventually closed its doors for good in 1935.
Today the Hermitage stands as the Pearse Museum, dedicated to the memory of the school's founder.
~ Have ancestors who lived or attended school here? Please post your connection below! ~