John and Ita Murray, of 120 Wesbury, Upper Kilmacud Rd, Stillorgan, Dublin, had been sued on breach of privacy grounds by the sisters of the Carmelite Order at Kilmacud.
James Doherty, counsel for the nuns, told Judge Jacqueline Linnane that the Murrays built an extension to their home which included a window overlooking the convent and grounds.
He said that when the convent sold some of its lands for housebuilding in the 1970s, the title documents included a restrictive covenant which subsequently attached to the deeds of any successor in title. The clause legally precluded any householder fitting windows above a height of 10ft which directly overlooked the convent and grounds.
Jadel Naidoo, counsel for the Murrays, told the Circuit Civil Court that when the couple bought No 120 Wesbury in 2001, they had not been made aware of a restrictive covenant in their title.
The couple joined their then solicitors, Conor O’Reilly and Frank Egan, who were practising as Egan O’Reilly solicitors, as third-party defendants to the proceedings.
Carmelite Prioress, Sr Mary Brigeen, said the sisters were often referred to as “hermits in community”. The restrictive covenant fully protected the privacy of the convent and grounds and she felt they had a duty to protect their enclosure for the future.
She said some houses on the Wesbury boundary had dormer windows with an oblique view of the convent but none of them directly overlooked the convent and its rooms as obtrusively as the Murray’s bedroom window.
She said that while the sisters found the legal proceedings distressing and contrary to what they would wish, they valued and wished to protect their enclosure and reluctantly had to take action.
John Murray said he had not been aware of the restrictive covenant when he bought the house or when he negotiated his re-mortgaging arrangements and obtained full planning permission for the extension.
To block up the window in his new main bedroom would leave the room in complete darkness.
“I will effectively lose my largest bedroom and cannot use it,” he said.
The case settled yesterday with a consent court order directing the Murrays to block up their bedroom window and not open any other window in the room in breach of the covenant.
An order for full legal costs against the Murrays was made in favour of the Carmelite Order with a consent “order over” directing Egan O’Reilly Solicitors to pay all of the Murrays’ costs in all of the proceedings.
Judge Linnane said the Carmelite Sisters had been extremely reluctant to bring the action but clearly had no alternative.