Tenants head over heels in love with new homes
With the brass band playing 'Congratulations' and groups of laughing children, the official opening of a new social housing scheme was more like a summer fête.
But the construction of the 25 houses at McArdle Green in Drogheda has weathered stormy days. Last year, with two-thirds of the houses built, they all had to be demolished after pyrite was found in the building blocks.
The mineral expands and causes tell-tales fractures in the foundations and walls of buildings.
The rebuilt houses are now homes for 100 people. All were allocated to those who had been on the housing waiting list.
Some of the new residents of McArdle Green had been waiting more than eight years for a house.
Mother-of-five Jean Everitt, whose son John (15) has epilepsy and ADHD, said the entire family was "very happy" in their new four-bedroom semi. John's ground-floor room was designed taking into account the recommendations of an occupational therapist.
"In the other house we were on top of each other and we were on the transfer list for eight years for the special needs house," said Jean.
"It was what John needed. He loves it here and has come on leaps and bounds."
Her neighbour Donna Cunningham was waiting eight-and-a-half years for a house. Now she shares her new home with partner, Barry Clinton, and their children Lucy (8), Abbey (5) and Cavern (3).
"We were renting the whole time. It was hard, and to be given this opportunity is fantastic," she said.
"I actually cried when I got the phone call to say we were moving here."
The scheme was developed by the North and East Housing Association (NEHA) on land provided by Louth County Council. It was financed by a mixture of a €1.3m loan from Ulster Bank, finance from the Department of Environment and the NEHA's own resources.
It is named after local man Noel McArdle, who was on the board of the NEHA and who was described by Drogheda Mayor Paul Bell as "a man who had a strong commitment to social housing".