National Scientific Committee Vernacular Heritage
The VHNSC was established to develop and promote interest in the understanding and conservation of Ireland’s vernacular heritage in both urban and rural environments. Dedicated to the conservation and enhancement of heritage whether structures, landscapes or objects created using vernacular knowledge and skills, the VHNSC also serves as a forum for addressing contemporary issues and challenges that impinge on vernacular heritage.
Promote the documentation, assessment, interpretation, conservation and management of vernacular heritage at national and international level;
Collaborate with ICOMOS International, with the International Committee for the Conservation of the Vernacular Heritage, (CIAV) and with any other bodies, government agencies or institutions whose work and mission is aligned with the objectives of the Committee;
Support the widest possible understanding of the importance of vernacular heritage among the general public and government institutions;
Serve as a forum for dialogue and cooperation between professionals through meetings, fieldtrips, workshops, lectures and other appropriate activities;
Provide expert advice to ICOMOS Ireland and ICOMOS International on vernacular heritage matters;
Add other objectives as determined in each annual programme of work/action plans of the VHNSC;
The committee’s annual programme of activities typically includes meetings, discussions, field trips to vernacular sites, as well as the making of submissions to relevant national policy documents relating to heritage, culture and architecture.
Fidelma Mullane, President VHNSC, is a vernacular architecture specialist and conservationist working in private practice.
Laura Bowen, Vice-president VHNSC, is a Conservation Architect working in private practice with a special interest in the conservation of the rural built heritage.
John Beattie works as Assistant Architectural Conservation Officer with Dublin City Council as part of a team responsible the management and conservation of the city’s Protected Structures. He has a particular interest in the use of vernacular materials.
Deirdre McDermott, architect, planner and urbanist, works in private practice with a focus on conservation including vernacular heritage.
Anna Meenan is Traditional Farm Buildings Grant Scheme Project Manager with The Heritage Council, overseeing the conservation of vernacular structures related to farming activities.
Colm Murray is the architecture officer of the Heritage Council, with a particular interest in maintaining the vitality of traditional forms of building.
Úna Ní Mhearain is an accredited Grade 1 conservation architect working in private practice, with wide experience in the conservation of vernacular architecture.
Barry O’Reilly has a background in archaeology, folk tradition, and vernacular architecture as well as specialist expertise in vernacular settlements. He works with the National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.
Specific publications, links and other relevant sources
Laura Bowen, Nicki Matthews, Reusing Farm Buildings – A Kildare Perspective, Kildare County Council.
Consarc, Fidelma Mullane & Ricahrd Oram, Report on the Present and Future Protection of Thatched Structures in Ireland, (in association with (Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government), 2005. Available on web:
Gailey, A. (1984) Rural houses of the north of Ireland. Edinburgh: John Donald.
Halpin, Sarah, The stone roofs of north-west Clare, Ireland, The Stone Roofing Association (UK) hosts an abstract of Sara Halpin’s MUBC thesis, and provides links to download the full document:
Oram, R. and Stelfox, D. (2004) Traditional buildings in Ireland: home owners handbook. Mourne Heritage Trust.
O’Reilly, B. (2004) Living under thatch. Cork: Mercier Press.
Pfeiffer. W. and Shaffrey, M. (1990) Irish cottages. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson.
Reeners, R. (compiler) (2003) A Wexford farmstead: the conservation of an 18th-century farmstead in County Wexford. Kilkenny: The Heritage Council.
Fidelma Mullane, Convenor Vernacular Heritage NSC :