An Taisce, a charity that works to preserve and protect Ireland’s natural and built heritage, has assembled for the fifth time what it determines to be the country’s Top 10 Most-at-Risk Buildings.

These are all buildings of importance, both intrinsically and to the heritage of their local areas; buildings that lie vacant and are in such a state of disrepair that they may be dangerous or have no identifiable new use. These buildings could be lost to future generations unless direct action is now taken to preserve them.

An Taisce’s Head of Advocacy Ian Lumley said, “We are seeing widespread vacancy and dereliction of heritage buildings in Irish towns and cities. The House by the Churchyard in Chapelizod which was on our 2020 top ten buildings at risk list is one example. The one-time home of one of Ireland’s most iconic horror writers Sheridan Le Fanu, and a fine example of an 18th century house is being left to deteriorate. Le Fanu is now part of an equally scary story as his famed, The House by the Churchyard novel, that of dereliction and vacancy”.

Mr. Lumley continued, “There is so much opportunity in restoration and conservation. In these pandemic times, we have seen the value of community and a growing appreciation for spending time and getting to know our local areas. Together with a homeless crisis that has not gone away, offer a compelling argument to save and repurpose many of the buildings listed below and many more for either community or residential use. Restoring and repurposing heritage buildings is also far more sustainable than allowing them to deteriorate, bulldozing them, and constructing new developments from scratch”.

The ‘Top 10 Most-at-Risk’ list is compiled and updated by An Taisce annually.

In alphabetical order, the ten buildings deemed most at risk in 2021 are:

  • Aldborough House, Dublin
  • Bishop's Palace, Raphoe, Donegal
  • Canal Hotel, Robertstown, Kildare
  • Castle MacGarret, Claremorris, Mayo
  • Castle Saunderson, Cavan
  • Charter School, Monasterevin, Kildare
  • Debtor's Prison, Green Street, Dublin
  • Donaghy's Mill, Drogheda, Louth
  • Knocklofty House, outside Clonmel, Tipperary
  • The House by the Churchyard, Chapelizod, Dublin 

See for further details and images of all the listed buildings.


PR Contact Name: Ian Lumley
Phone number: 083 1532384
Email: [email protected]

Further information

The House by the Churchyard

No. 34 Main Street, Chapelizod, Dublin 20

Several heritage buildings stand derelict in the pretty suburban village of Chapelizod, but none can match the eminence and literary connections of Number 34, Main Street: a house that is synonymous with the novel The House by the Churchyard, which subsequently became an inspiration for James Joyce’s Finnegan’s Wake.

Sheridan Le Fanu’s 1863 novel was set in the 1760s, just a few decades after the eponymous house was constructed, and for most of its existence it has stood in the centre of this heritage village: a fine, imposing building in front of the medieval bell tower of St Laurence’s Church. Although number 34 remains in situ today, it is now in a shamefully poor condition. The house has deteriorated at such a rate over the past few years that the internal structure has disappeared; the floors and roof collapsed earlier this year and the front façade and eastern gable now appear to be bowing. Its four walls are being held up instead by supportive steelwork.

The House by the Churchyard was the early childhood home of Le Fanu and is a well-proportioned early Georgian building: a detached, three-story house with a small, (now overgrown) yard in the lee of the western gable. Le Fanu wrote the book in serial form and thus the finished novel has a rather convoluted plot. The fate of the house, around which his narrative forms, ought to be less intricate today and deserving of a more positive outcome.

Built: c. 1740

Recommended use: Residential

Buildings-at-Risk Register 

The Buildings-at-Risk Register was put in place in response to the growing number of structures that are vacant and are falling into a state of disrepair.

The assessment of risk is directly associated with the condition of the structure and not the external processes affecting it. The Register does not include national monuments, as set out in the National Monuments Acts, 1930 to 2004. The Register is correlated with the National Inventory of Architectural Heritage, if you would like to know more detail on the architectural merits of a certain building.

What makes a structure an ‘at-risk’ building?

For a structure to be at risk, it should meet one or several of the following criteria:

  • Vacant with no identified new use
  • Suffering from neglect and/or poor maintenance
  • Suffering from structural problems
  • Fire damaged
  • Open to the elements
  • Threatened with demolition
  • Abandoned ruin

Send details of a building you believe to be ‘at risk’ in your area:

ph: 01 454 1786; e: [email protected]; Twitter: @AnTaisce;