A poustinia is a small cabin or room used for silence and prayer, quiet reflection and meditation. The word itself means 'desert' in Russian, and in old Russia a poustinia was a quiet place where people went to find god within themselves, far from the noise of everyday life. These poustinia can be found at the Glencomeragh House Retreat Centre in Ireland, somewhere between Tipperary and Waterford.
The house belongs to the Rosminian congregration, a Catholic group that has been living there since 1960. Thirty years after they moved there, they opened up the premises of their main 19th-century building to retreats of all kinds. A decade later, they asked architects Bates Maher to design some poustinia.
The poustinia are set into an incline, surrounded in wildflowers and positioned to capture different views of the surrounding countryside. With shutters closed, the inside space is designed to encourage contemplation and meditation. Whether you find god is of course up to you. RM