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.