The House by the Churchyard

In 1863 Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu published one of his most successful works The House by the Churchyard. The book, which like many 19th century novels was initially serialized and accordingly has a convoluted plot, is set in the village of Chapelizod to the immediate west of central Dublin. Sheridan Le Fanu knew the area well: not long after he was born in 1814 his father, an Anglican clergyman, was appointed chaplain of the Royal Hibernian Military School (now St Mary’s Hospital) in the Phoenix Park which lies directly north of Chapelizod. This is the eponymous House by the Churchyard, standing – just about – outside the gates of the adjacent St Laurence’s Church. The building is believed to date from c.1740, just a few decades before the period in which Sheridan Le Fanu’s novel is set. It has been standing empty and neglected for some years and now looks to be in a seriously dilapidated condition. Unless there is an intervention soon, it will be necessary to write another book, this one called The Lost House by the Churchyard.


Incidentally, this is not the only historic property in Chapelizod in perilous condition: a little to the east, the last surviving house from a terrace built around 1700 is boarded up and on the verge of disintegration. 

6 comments on “The House by the Churchyard

  1. Teresa Burke says:

    I look forward to receiving these great posts …and feel sad to think that these beautiful old houses are now falling into disrepair … what secrets they hold beteeen those walls.. ❤

  2. Stephen William Barker says:

    I know the name Le Fanu but have not read his books, would you recommend them?

  3. Vincent Delany says:

    The reason why properties fall into disrepair can be many such as:
    a) Owner does not have enough money.
    b) Owner cannot raise enough money.
    b) Property is in the wrong location, with little demand for property of that type.
    c) The client believes that the Record of Protected Structures listing of the property will result in him incurring inordinate expense and expensive professional expertice, which makes ownership of such properties to be not financially viable.

  4. thornlyboy says:

    Enjoy all your posts (from afar), but I am struck by the plethora of unsightly wiring in Irish towns. Could you design a more ugly assemblage if you tried? Even if the house were in good nick (and I wish it was), the wires and the rusting pole would still detract. Chapelizod should be a charming urban village; clearly, it’s not.

    • Thank you for making contact – unfortunately you are right: there seems a blindness where wires (and other service material/street furniture) is concerned, with the result that our urban landscape is often absurdly cluttered…

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