Vernacular Heritage

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. 

Committee Members 

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 & Richard 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. 

Contact details 

Fidelma Mullane, Convenor Vernacular Heritage NSC :