Welcome

Welcome to the Margaret Aylward Centre for Faith and Dialogue, named in honour of Margaret Aylward, the founder of the Holy Faith Sisters; in whose grounds the centre sits.

I'm not a poet, though Glasnevin might make one a poet.

Margaret Aylward

The Holy Faith sisters built the centre to share the beauty of our natural resources and the spiritual heritage of Glasnevin which is associated with the monastic settlement of St Mobhi. Here we hope to continue our mission in a spirit of inclusivity in contemporary Ireland. Read more here

This is an extraordinary building. It takes us all by surprise.
It is a wonderful example of contemporary creativity in building and style and yet it is surrounded by so many symbols of Dublin life, past and present.
Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, Blessing of the Centre, 2014

Profile of the Centre

It (the Margaret Aylward centre) is like a new frame within which and through which we see Dublin differently. The building and Dublin life come together into a type of contemporary fusion which challenges our set patterns and leads to reflection. It is a space where we are challenged to reflect anew, but not to flee from the realities that surround us.

Archbishop Martin, 2014

Architecture

We are grateful to our architect, Ralph Bingham and his assistant architect, Kieran Fitzgerald, of MOLA Architecture for capturing our vision and translating it into a stunning building; to Glenbeigh Construction and to Mr Mark Johnston, project manager with W.K. Nowlan, for delivering the building with great efficiency. 

Design – Ralph Bingham,  MOLA Architecture:  We were particularly conscious of the vistas and views from the site and the pristine green lawn and yew walk in front of Glasnevin House. We wanted the new Centre to sit and float above this fabulous green carpet. It was also our intention that the new building should sit as a pavilion or folly within its classical setting and should appear weightless as an object building. We decided to use opaque glass panels to mirror its glorious surroundings. The external skin will thus reflect the trees, sky, lawn and convent buildings around it. 

The plan of the centre represents a journey of discovery, a spiral and labyrinth.  It is formed from a series of axial circulation routes which are geometrically formed to contain space. These spaces operate as a theatre, a sacred space, a multi- purpose space and a series of small office-size rooms, all linked and interlocked with ramps and steps. 

The main stairs that rises up to the sacred space is on axis with Mitchell’s Cedar tree.  The steps down to the theatre space are in line with the O’Connell tower and tree tops of Glasnevin cemetery. The view from the large curved window in the first floor sacred space acts as a lens over the city skyline.  A large roof terrace provides a breakout area from the sacred space and as a further place of contemplation. 

The exterior of the building is contemporary with a neutral colour palette of greys and whites the interior comprises natural materials of timber wall linings, stone and oak flooring. 


Walking the Grounds

In the busyness of life and the everyday stresses we all encounter, it is refreshing to take time for space and silence. You are welcome to come to our centre to spend some time in our Sacred Space. There you can be nourished with silence, reading and reflection against the backdrop of the beauty of nature’s bounty.

Of the spiritual nature of our grounds in Glasnevin our foundress Margaret Aylward says: ‘Nature seems indeed to rest here and contemplate her God in quiet seclusion; and in her silent way invites the soul to lift herself to Him that made her.’

Click HERE to download a booklet with historical and botanic information

Click HERE to download a booklet with a reflective walk in the grounds

As this is a private grounds, please do call ahead to ensure access, and please sign in at the centre on arriving and leaving the site for insurance reasons. Unfortunately no dogs can be permitted on site for safety and bio-diversity reasons.

Background History

Opened in February 2014, this contemporary building, set in beautiful surroundings in north Dublin, is framed by old trees and a quiet walkway. The site is steeped in rich history and has a long association with the spiritual life, from St Mobhi in the 6th century up to today. Several religious orders and even a Bishop and his family called this place home! Now we are delighted to welcome you too into its beauty. Be inspired and nourished in this welcoming space where people of all faiths and none can immerse themselves in stillness and dialogue. #cityoasis.

Who was Margaret Aylward?

Margaret Aylward, a Waterford woman, founded the congregation in Dublin in 1867 following many years of serving children in distress. This work was formalised in 1857 in St Brigid’s Orphanage – never a residential facility but a system of placing children with families in long-term fosterage. The need to provide school education for poor children saw the beginning of the network of Holy Faith schools. In these works, Miss Aylward was assisted by Fr John Gowan, a Vincentian priest based in Phibsborough, Dublin. The sisters first came to Glasnevin in 1865.

Who are the Holy Faith Sisters?

We are a religious congregation of Roman Catholic women living and working in four continents. Our purpose is to proclaim by word and action the love and truth of Jesus to the people of our day and to collaborate in creating a just world. Our consecration to God is expressed in the three vows we take at our profession, but living the vows is a daily commitment. We pray together, live together, love and laugh together. Relating to one another in love is at the heart of our life in community and we are in community for the mission entrusted to us. For more see holyfaithsisters.org

Wall Hanging in the Events Room by Daiva Stasiukynaite

Many people ask about the vibrant wall hanging in our Events Room downstairs.  

It was commissioned by the centre, especially for this space and arrived on June 5, 2015.  

Daiva Stasiukynaite was invited to create this unique piece. We wanted colour; a piece that would inspire and draw us into beauty, silence and contemplation. This, and more, is what Daiva has achieved. 

Daiva is a Lithuania-born, Irish-based textile designer, who loves natural fibres and works under Daiva’s Textiles brand producing local and quality wearable and fine art textiles. Her work reflects her love of art and inspiration drawn from nature distinguished by brushstrokes and watercolour-like signature.  She spent many months designing and creating the beautiful wall hanging for our Events Space.  

It is timely that the piece was ready for the first week in June, the month of vibrancy and colour. 

Let me, O let me bathe my soul in colours; let me swallow the sunset and drink the rainbow.

Kahlil Gibran

Team

The Margaret Aylward Centre is a community of sisters and friends who work together to create a welcoming space and an inspirational program of events for those who join us.

Our Director is Dympna Mallon.

Dympna has been active in social justice and pastoral issues for more than 20 years.  She is passionate about the importance of dialogue and communication, promoting the dignity of each person and caring for our common home.

Our Office Manager is Geraldine Farrell.  

Geraldine has worked for the Holy Faith Sisters for 12 years, supporting the General Team and the Margaret Aylward Centre.  

Our Team of Volunteers

The Margaret Aylward centre relies on a team of volunteers – normally about 10-15 people – who welcome visitors and help create hospitable spaces.

All unattributed photographs on the site are by MOLA architecture, Donal Murphy, Ben O'Farrell and/or team members. 

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News

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Cry of the Earth, Cry of the Poor!…

Cry of the Earth……..   Healthy Planet, Healthy People Petition. Among the challenges posed to us by Pope Francis in Laudato Si’ was to become more socially and politically active. The Healthy Planet, Healthy People petition, to be presented to world leaders at the forthcoming…

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Year of St Joseph

2021 has been dedicated by Pope Francis as a “Year of St Joseph” for which Sr Marie Dunne CHF has composed a beautiful hymn “Joseph Ever Faithful”. Click on the link below for a moment of reflection on St Joseph’s care and protection as we…

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Laudato Si Animators – The leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations ….

Some of our Holy Faith sisters who worked in South Sudan in recent years will remember fondly Fr Tim Galvin, a Kiltegan priest from Brosna, Co Kerry, who has lived there since 1983. Fr Tim recently trained as a Laudato Si Animator and created THIS…

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As we emerge…

As we emerge from lockdown and begin to step out into the summer, its a good opportunity be grateful for all that we have been given. Had we been told in February 2020 that we were entering into more than a year of isolation, we…

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A Pentecost reflection

On Saturday 22nd May, we gathered before Pentecost to reflect on the guidance of the Holy Spirit with our friend and guide Donal Dorr. Participants logged in from across this island, England, Scotland, America, Australia and from parts of Asia and Africa too. Much like…

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Launch of a New Book Reflecting on Covid
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The Irish Catholic Church Calls a Synod – Irish Bishops Ask for your Opinion
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From Gloom to Zoom – Creating New Communities of Hope Online

When the centre closed in doors in early March 2020, we imagined that a 12 week closure might be the worst possible scenario. Our first thought was how we might support both facilitators and participants on our courses in this challenging time. We decided to do three things To change our…

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Deirdre Ni Chinneide – Crossing the Threshold of Hope
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Laudato Si, Bookclubs and Celebrations – Caring for our Common Home Online

A book club with Dermot Lane on his new book ‘Theology and Ecology in dialogue: the wisdom of Laudato Si’. A fantastic opportunity to unpack Dermot’s important contribution to this conversation as we explored how every aspect of our theology and faith was, and is,…

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Thank you – Lent and Easter at the Margaret Aylward Centre

If you would like to send us a testimonial or review of any events that we might be able to share with newcomers, please email info@macfd.ie. Thank you.

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#DareToCare – A Webinar Encouraging Engagement and Appreciation in Society.
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Marie Dunne CHF – Sharing Music and Healing Across Lockdown

Marie Dunne is ‘one of our own’ here in the Margaret Aylward centre – a Holy Faith Sister choir director, and composer of Liturgical Music amongst many other gifts. She is always a friendly, encouraging voice for us all, so we weren’t surprised when across…

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January 2021 – New Year, New Possibilities

As we begin again we want to offer our friends and community some gentle, encouraging events to lift our spirits. So we are delighted that Anne F O’Reilly has come together with Deirdre Ní Chinnéide to offer two courses for you, and that Martina Lehane…

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Advent and Christmas 2020

 It was a lovely end to a busy year, and we are grateful that we could gather, if only online. We really look forward to being able to meet in person again soon.

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The Digital Parish

We continue our Facebook series today here on The Digital Parish asking some questions of priests, religious, bishops, lay people, who have been using digital media before and during the Covid-19 pandemic to reach out online. As well as finding out how people are reaching…

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A Love Letter to the Earth

On Sunday, 24 May 2020, we are celebrating! The Margaret Aylward centre is delighted to be part of the organising committee for the prestigious event “A Love Letter to the Earth”. An evening of music, poetry and song with internationally known speakers sharing hope!! Register…

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Laudato Si Week!

This week is designated as Laudato Si week! It is the fifth anniversary of the publication of Pope Francis letter to all about caring for our common home. So as we start Laudato Si week today (16-24th May), I invite you to read one chapter…

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Colour In The Cracks!

Just sharing a recent sight that spoke, indeed is still speaking Hope to my spirit and brought unexpected Joy to my heart; a gift from “the God of Perpetual Surprises” (Pope Francis, Lumen Fidei 35). Having been ill and cocooned for roughly a month my…

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Beyond A Throwaway Culture

It was a great joy to gather together a group of interested, invested participants for a day of reflection and challenge on the theme of eco-justice in our world this February. As a centre, we are convinced that the climate change conversation is the most…

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Thought of the Week

“In winter I get up at night
And dress by yellow candle-light.
In summer quite the other way,
I have to go to bed by day

I have to go to bed to see,
The birds still hopping on the tree,
or hear the grown up peoples feet,
still going past me on the street.

And does it not seem hard to you,
When all teh sky is clear and blue,
And I should like so much to play,
To have to go to bed by day?”