Aras na hOidhreachta Headquarters for the Heritage Council


The former Bishop's Palace in the shadows of St. Canice's Cathedral is a protected Structure and a historic building of significance, parts of which date back as far as the 14th Century. Much of the grounds are of archeological significance and allowance was made to ensure their protection.


The OPW Architects were charged with refurbishing the whole building to accommodate the new headquarters for the Heritage Council of Ireland.

Lissadell worked in consultation with a wide field of specialists such as archeologists, wildlife and plant experts, timber and paint consultants as well as the traditional design team members.


  • Stainless Steel & Glass pavilion and Link annexed to the main house to serve as a canteen and toilets for staff. This was built over existing archaeology in a manner that preserves the existing.
  • Stripped back entire roof to insulate re-felt, re batton and re-slate with salvaged and new slate.
  • In order to avoid a disturbance to the existing bat population Bat Zones were constructed in the roofspace to house returning bats each spring.
  • Structural steel was introduced to add support to floors throughout, particularly to stairs and landing areas.
  • A passenger lift was installed within a newly formed lift shaft to access all floors.
  • Steel fire escape spiral stairs added to the gable of the building allowing egress from each floor.
  • A new services building constructed detached from the main building with services routes excavated under archaeological supervision.

Points of Note

  • The tower at the northern end of the building dates back to the 1350's. Over the centuries each of the 3 floors of the main house were subsequently built up.
  • Archaeological oversight was a regular feature of the latest works.
  • The Robing Room, a separate structure by the boundary wall, allowed a direct route for the Bishop between the Palace and Cathedral.
  • The current Bishop still lives on the grounds of the Palace in a newly built dwelling.
  • The project was shortlisted in the RIAI Irish Architecture Awards 2009 and was Highly Commended in the Conservation Category.
  • Location
  • Architect
    John Cahill, Architects Dept., OPW.
  • Client
    Heritage Councl of Ireland
  • Quantity Surveyors
  • Completion date
    March 2008