Medieval Leper Hospital Project


The Medieval Leper Hospital probably originally dates from the 12th century, with the present building marked as dating from 1632. Reports place a leper hospital on this site from before the establishment of St. Johns Priory, which makes it a heritage site of immense value. Adjacent to the hospital is St Stephens Church, which is shown on a 1764 map, was listed as a ruin, with the associated graveyard and grave stones dating from the 18th century.


Great care has been taken to conserve the Leper Hospital site while undertaking a programme of defoliation. Advice and support has been provided by a Horticulturist, Archaeologist, Architect and Master Stonemason.


The project will take about four years to complete in order to control/eliminate the knotweed and vegetation problem. Our first objective is to clear the site of invasive weeds and growth, while also removing all rubbish. Our next goal is to secure the area and prevent any further damage to this heritage site. While costs are relatively low, a budget of about €3,000 is required to cover the costs of rubbish removal, weed killer, equipment and works, to make the structures safe, and to meet our first two goals. Periodic work continues to control the invasive weed issue.


Open the PDF above to read some very interesting historical extracts on the Leper Hospital. Thanks to Tommy Deegan for this contribution.

Leper Hospital - An Update 


The Leper Hospital and adjoining St Stephens Graveyard have been cleared of the bulk of vegetation and rubbish, and the area exposed for further investigation and work. A planning process is underway for the development of a shopping centre, with heritage needs included in the conditions. Many thanks to all the volunteers and Trust members who gave their time, donations and equipment to this worthy cause. As a result, this valuable heritage will be preserved for current and future generations.

We have come a long way since we started work on site on the 28th March 2014.To start, in the Spring of 2014, following a call by local historians, Waterford Civic Trust sought permission to clear the area of vegetation to prevent further damage to this resident heritage. This permission, with conditions, was granted in March 2015, and work started the same month. We started work on site on Saturday 28th March, recording and documenting items of interest, and continued in this way over several weekends. Volunteers cleared rubbish, needles, trees and foliage to reveal St Stephens Graveyard and the Leper Hospital.


A huge amount of work has been done, with St Stephen's graveyard cleared and the area around the building made accessible. See the article later on this page on the 400 year old laneway. Images below show the clearance achieved. Over 650 volunteer hours have been spent on the project to date.  A recent gravestone fragment was found dated 1699, three centuries old!  SEE THE LATEST PHOTOGRAPHS AT THE END OF THE PAGE.


We would welcome donations and any information you may have - you can email us at:


The Leper Hospital before the work

Old photo of LH area.jpg
Old photo of LH area.jpg

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The site of the Leper Hospital overgrown with trees and vegetation

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Leper Hospital - Tree growth
Leper Hospital - Tree growth

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Old photo of LH area.jpg
Old photo of LH area.jpg

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(c) Deise Aerial Photography. Our thanks to Michael Malone for this image. Copies should not be taken as this does not have the original watermark. Above picture shows the growth on the Leper Hospital site

Work is Underway

St Stephens Graveyard, after much of the clearance - mid April 2015

400 Year old lane uncovered - See account below

"As we cleared the vegetation from the Leper Hospital / St. Stephen's Church we discovered a lane between both. The lane runs in an east-west direction and is approx. 60 meters in length by 2-3 meters in width. We are convinced this lane is probably the oldest intact street above ground in Waterford City today. Pictured is the lane today and also I have highlighted it on the 1764 map. The lane must have been in place in 1632 when the Leper Hospital was renovated. This would make the street or lane almost 400 years old."


Our thanks to Tommy Deegan for this account, and to all the volunteers who have worked so hard to protect this valuable heritage site.

Above picture courtesy of the Waterford History Group

Before and After


Two mature trees and three Buddleia shrubs were growing from the roof level of the Leper Hospital. They have grown through the walls and split some of the stones. They have been carefully removed and will be managed to prevent further damage.

End April 2015

Photograph taken in the 1960s showing the Leper Hospital side, before development and the removal of buildings.

An impression of the new Shopping Centre, probably from 2007. The Leper Hospital site is opposite the curved building. Thanks to the Waterford History Group for this image.

Photograph taken in June 2014, the total site was covered. (c) Déise Aerial Photography. Our thanks to Michael Malone for this image. 

Photograph taken in the 1930s showing the Leper Hospital site. Our thanks to the Waterford History Group.

The gravestone fragment pictured across was uncovered on Monday, 27th April, 2015. What does it say to you?


We think that the inscription reads, 'the body’. Until the remainder of the headstone comes to light, the body’s identity will remain a mystery.

Two Months Later