Monday 11 December 2017

Tears and memories as St Teresa's Gardens torn down

Ryan Nugent

It may have long served its purpose, but former residents struggled to hold back the tears as the final block of St Teresa's Gardens was knocked to the ground.

The demolition was part of a regeneration programme in the Donore Avenue area of the south inner city, which has seen 10 houses and seven flat complexes demolished already.

A further two blocks were refurbished in the area, with an agreement for the construction of 34 houses and 16 apartments in place.

A garden party held nearby to count down to demolition time was attended by Housing Minister Simon Coveney.

As the countdown reached its climax, golden balloons were released into the sky - sealed envelopes were attached with personal memories of former tenants written inside.

Emotional

Carmel Radford (50) lived there all her life in a three-bedroom flat that she shared with her parents, her eight brothers and five sisters.

It was a squeeze, but she wouldn't have had it any other way.

"I'm very emotional - it's heart-breaking to see your whole life going," Carmel said.

"It was brilliant. You wouldn't get neighbours or friends like it.

"You could walk out your door, leave it wide open and just say 'Throw your eye on the door there'.

"At one stage you could see them (neighbours) every day of the week, every second of the day, and now all of a sudden, you'd be lucky to see them once a year," she added.

Her sister Valerie said living in the flats had shaped her as a person.

"It's very sad - I lived here for 56 years," she said.

"It made me a better person. Put it this way, I'd never be ashamed to say that I came from Donore Avenue, and I still wouldn't to this day."

Her pal Breda Massey (54) said dozens of children would play from dusk until dawn outside the flats.

There were no safety fears, as neighbours made sure the kids were always in sight.

"We were sent down the flats to play and nobody got lost because everybody watched everybody else's kids.

"If I got a house in Teresa's Garden's I'd move straight back," she added.

However, both agreed that the flats had served their purpose, and were now in poor condition.

Speaking after the demolition began, Mr Coveney said the regeneration was about "transforming people's lives".

"This was a flat complex that was built in the late '40s, early '50s. At the time it was a solution for housing for many families, but it's totally outdated now. What we're trying to do here, what we're doing in Dolphin House, what we're going to be doing in O'Devaney Gardens, is about regenerating communities, not just building new homes.

"We're going to spend tens of millions of taxpayers' money building new communities that people can be proud of.

"The families that had to be relocated out of here during the demolition work can come back in here and look forward to that and be part of communities where their children can grow up."

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