An Taisce lists Kilkenny buildings as one of top ten 'most at risk' in country

The 18th Century building is located at John's Green

Sam Matthews

Reporter:

Sam Matthews

Email:

sam.matthews@kilkennypeople.ie

KILKENNY

The site at John’s Green, Kilkenny

A building in Kilkenny City has been identified by heritage body An Taisce as being one of the ten most at-risk buildings in the country.

The Ormonde Centre is a large 18th Century building, in the middle of a  site at John’s Green which was recently placed on Kilkenny’s Vacant Sites Register, despite an appeal to An Bord Pleanala. The site is currently for sale as a ‘hotel use’ site.

An Taisce’s list of top ten most at-risk buildings for 2020 identifies buildings  of  importance, both  intrinsically  and  to  the  heritage  of their  local  areas,   that lie vacant and are in such a state of disrepair that they may be dangerous or have no identifiable new use. It says these buildings could be lost to future generations unless direct action is taken soon to preserve them.

The Kilkenny entry reads:

“A building that is elegant and classically proportioned, the Ormonde Centre in Kilkenny opened first  in 1767 as a hospital, and today it remains one of the earliest-surviving purpose-built civic or health  institutions  in  the  county.

“The seven-bay, three-storey building  was  later converted  for use  as  a  county infirmary before being renovated and extended at the start of the 20th century: for most of the last century it functioned as a college. 

“Despite the various renovation projects needed to accommodate these alternative functions, much  of the historic fabric of the building is still intact. This goes for the interior too, where thankfully the mid-18th century staircase still remains intact. 

"At the start of this century, the property was in use as a hostel, but unfortunately the building has been  vacant now for several years.  Nor has  it  been  well maintained:  there  are  obvious  signs  of  deterioration,  particularly  water  penetration,  slipped  slates,  vegetation  growth,  broken  windows,  and vandalism. 

“This  is  an  important  historic  building  in  Kilkenny  and  unless  action  is  taken  soon  to  preserve  it,  it  could disappear from the city fabric.”

The site is located on lands that are subject to zoning ‘General Business’ with the objective  “to provide for general development.” The site is located within the Michael Street and Wolfe Tone Street Architectural Conservation Area.

Upon visiting the area, An Bord Pleanala inspector Erika Casey noted  works had been under taken to improve the visual appearance of the site, and that the windows had been boarded up.

“This in my view however, does not mitigate the fact that the site and existing structures on the site clearly have a neglected appearance and that the presence of such derelict and vacant buildings in a prime urban area significantly detracts from the streetscape,” she noted in her report, dated April 17, 2020.