Final reports: Vicar Street houses not Medieval

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The final reports into the architectural heritage of two houses on Vicar Street due for demolition have said that the buildings do not contain Medieval fabric.

The final reports into the architectural heritage of two houses on Vicar Street due for demolition have said that the buildings do not contain Medieval fabric.

The reports, published today, were carried out by consultant archaeologists Valerie J Keeley Ltd, and historic buildings specialist Rob Goodbody respectively, under licence from the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht.

The houses at 21 and 22 Vicar Street are due to be dismantled to make way for the Central Access Scheme. The €10.7 million project involves the construction of 700 metres of a new road across the former cattle mart and the Smithwicks brewery lands, with a new bridge.

But the houses have been at the centre of controversy, with over 6,000 people signing a petition calling on the local authorities to halt the scheme and preserve Vicar Street. In addition, a number of archaeologists, including Patrick Neary and Cóilín O Driseoil, and renowned historian John Bradley, have asserted that one of the houses contains a late medieval gable, or the remnants of one.

These reports today reject that assertion.

The Rob Goodbody report says that the front and rear walls of 21 and 22 Vicar St, and their internal walls date mostly from 1881 and 1908 respectively with no evidence that they date to medieval times. It says there are small remnants from the eighteenth or early nineteenth century.

Mr Goodbody says that the south gable wall has now been shown to date “in all likelihood” to the 18th Century, but with significant alterations and additions in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Meanwhile, the report from Valerie J Keeley Ltd, who was commissioned to carry out a series of archaeological investigations says that earliest archaeology found dated from the late 17th/early 18th Century, and not further back to Medieval times.

For more on this story and the full, completed reports, see next Wednesday’s Kilkenny People.