A drone picture from PJ Dunne shows the damage caused to the building in the fire
Following the recent fire which badly damaged the historic Bridge House in Kilkenny City, a local councillor has said that Kilkenny County Council should carry out an inventory and risk assessment of other vulnerable buildings in the city and county, as a matter of urgency.
Green Party councillor Malcolm Noonan also says that Kilkenny Civic Trust should be given a key role in the conservation of heritage buildings, as per its constitution.
"Lessons must be learned from the Bridge House fire," he said.
"While many attempts were made to bring the building back into civic and productive use, it now lies partially ruined but not beyond restoration. It could well be the case that other buildings and in particular heritage buildings within the city could be vulnerable to meeting a similar fate."
Previously, at a Kilkenny City Municipal District Meeting, Cllr Noonan asked that the Planning Enforcement section and Kilkenny Fire Services carry out an inspection of other at risk buildings to assess them for safety and security and to issue orders if necessary to premises owners. He referenced buildings such as John’s Green House, which has been lying idle for years and said it could be used to provide accommodation for families.
"I am also concerned regarding a number of buildings that, given their age and condition, could be at risk," he said.
"We have a Civic Trust here similar to Dublin and Limerick. However unlike Dublin and Limerick, Kilkenny Civic Trust is in my view taking a very narrow view of its remit, concentrating albeit quite well, around the management of existing properties under its stewardship. Yet its constitution is quite clear: ‘To encourage the conservation and use of the architectural cultural and historic heritage of Kilkenny City and County’."
Cllr Noonan noted there is only one conservation officer to cover the entire county, and said it was his view that the Civic Trust should complement the council's work by appointing a conservation architect, support the restoration and conservation of built heritage assets, and realise the development of a National Traditional Building Skills Centre in Kilkenny.
"This would create employment and become a part of our proposed centre for design," he said.
The Green Party councillor said that Kilkenny City has lost a 'significant amount' of heritage buildings over the past century.
"It’s time to call a halt to this destruction," he said.
"My hope is that the Bridge house will be restored to as close as is possible, its original integrity and of equal importance is for us to collectively work towards high standards in our built urban centres."