Thursday 19 July 2018

'I had all my belongings in my van' - Dad-of-five hit by redundancy overjoyed as he moves into new home

Michael Keane at his new home in Ashbourne, Co Meath. Photo: Arthur Carron
Michael Keane at his new home in Ashbourne, Co Meath. Photo: Arthur Carron

Ian Begley

Single father-of-five Michael Keane burst into tears of joy when he realised his days without a home were at an end.

After spending 25 years as a master craftsman for Waterford Crystal, the 56-year-old's life 'was on hold' after he was made redundant.

Things took a turn for the worse when his landlord decided to sell his property. On top of that, Mr Keane's marriage had fallen apart.

But Mr Keane never lost hope.

"I knew the only way to get through this bad spell was to remain positive," he said.

"When I lost my home, my entire life was on hold. Last year, I spent more than three months in emergency accommodation and also in friends' homes.

"I had all my clothes and belongings in my van and just took each day as it came."

After spending years on the social housing list, Mr Keane's bad luck suddenly came to an end.

Meath County Council had referred his case to not-for-profit charity Cluid Housing, who were in the process of building 67 homes in Ashbourne.

"They interviewed me for these new developments, but there was never a guarantee that I would be offered one.

"It was all I could think about and I admit I started having my doubts. Then out of the blue I got the phone call I was waiting for.

"When I was told that I was one of the 67 people being given a home, I broke down in tears. I can't put into words how ecstatic I felt.

"Cluid spent no time waiting around. They handed over the keys that Wednesday at 11am and by 12.15pm I was out washing the windows.

"But it was only when I put my clothes into my wardrobe that it dawned on me that my days of being homeless were over," he said.

Mr Keane is now delighted to call a new two-bedroom house in Milltown Meadows, Ashbourne, Co Meath, his home.

Since he moved in, in October, he has been making up for lost time.

"I went back to college to study photography and journalism. I'm now starting a Tús scheme and will be working with Ashbourne Community Newsletter.

"I'm also in talks with (Social Protection Minister) Regina Doherty and Meath Enterprise board about opening up a new creative arts centre on the Boyne Valley tourist trail.

"It's my hope that I can go back to working with glass, while using my photography skills here," he added.

"My words of advice to anyone in a similar situation as myself would be to stay positive in the face of adversity, no matter what."

Irish Independent

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