Marking the Site

DerelictMap1 - copyright stephen rigney

As Dublin become more populous and the endlessly discussed economic situation continues to inhibit growth and development, worn patches are beginning to show themselves in the city’s infrastructure and its commercial properties.

Boarded-up shop fronts are that bit more common, even in the city centre, and the Docklands has come to feature some glaringly unfinished or un-utilised developments.

However, innovation is still alive and well, and the consumer technology that was also the fruit of the boom years ago is still with us today, being put to novel uses. Scientific research for instance, has become open to input from the public, who can volunteer their observations to open-source projects.

Two PhD students, Stephen Rigney and Eoin O’Mahony, have established a Map of Dublin’s Derelict Sites– abandoned lots, homes, neglected places in the midst of urban life– which is open to contributions. Stephen is researching for a thesis on Clondalkin and the suburbanisation of Dublin in the 1960s, while Eoin is writing on geographies of religion. The origin of the project is their shared impulse to “tell the story of Dublin’s Northside,” as Stephen puts it, though their incorporation of information from Dublin City Council’s Derelict Roster which places a number of Docklands and Dublin 4 sites on the map too.

We wanted to know, if there was a ‘philosophy’ or intention behind the project?
“Yes, the big question for us is why these central spaces are closed off from use. The conventional response would be that they are private properties or that the owner/developer is waiting for the economy to pick up. But in the meantime, there are all these vacant and unused spaces sitting alongside a shortage of recreational and play space and potential businesses and community endeavours unable to get going because they cannot afford the rents being demanded.”

What is the nature of their relationship with their other collaborators? Are they also academics? Apparently not.

“It’s a public collaboration. Most of the contributors would be non-academic, whatever that means! It was actually a pretty casual arrangement from the start– Eoin put out a call and a half dozen or so people responded. We are confining ourselves to looking at the Northside, mainly to keep a focus, but it could be really interesting to open the map up to people from all around the city or even the country.”

The Dereliction in Dublin Map is viewable on line at

Image by Stephen Rigney.

By Ruairi Conneely