“What's the Story Buddleia?”: A public geography of dereliction in Dublin City


  • Eoin O’Mahony St Patrick's College, Dublin
  • Stephen Rigney Maynooth university, Ireland




Since 2007, like many other places, Ireland has experienced a series of economic and social shocks. These were brought on by an over-reliance on property development and debt as a means of development. One of the ways in which these shocks were made evident was through the over-production of housing and other properties across the island. While there has been research conducted on this form of overproduction, there has been less on longer standing forms of dereliction and vacancy. Such derelict buildings and vacant sites are a prominent feature of Dublin city’s landscape. They remain part of a city that has undergone significant transformation in the last two decades. In an effort to understand why they remain in place, we undertook a survey of this dereliction in 2013 and 2014. In the first part of the paper, we outline the origins and aims of our survey: to understand why dereliction persists particularly in one part of Dublin city. In the second part, we describe the methods we used to gather data on individual derelict sites and our attempts to engage a wider audience through an online collaborative process. Our research shows that the collection of data on derelict sites in Dublin is often made difficult by opaque planning practice. The paper concludes that the apparent disorder of the city seen in derelict properties can be recast if we more fully understand what the relationship between use, or usefulness, and that order might be. Possible uses for these sites are often elided in favour of the ordered practices of a network of actors. Re-thinking Dublin city after the crisis requires us to understand how public engagement for planning purposes can be improved.

Author Biographies

Eoin O’Mahony, St Patrick's College, Dublin



Stephen Rigney, Maynooth university, Ireland





How to Cite

O’Mahony, E., & Rigney, S. (2016). “What’s the Story Buddleia?”: A public geography of dereliction in Dublin City. Irish Geography, 48(1), 88–99. https://doi.org/10.55650/igj.2015.527