Irish Republican News · July 12, 2004
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
Ballymun towers come down

The demolition of Ballymun’s notorious tower blocks began yesterday, to mixed feelings among local residents.

Life in the north Dublin housing scheme was immortalised in films and novels by author Roddy Doyle.

But the site also became synonymous with the city’s heroin crisis, chronic unemployment and crime.

Seven of the tallest tower blocks were named after signatories to the 1916 Proclamation of the Republic, including the leader of the Easter rising, Padraig Pearse.

More than 3,000 people watched as a specially imported crane took the first chunk out of a tower at midday.

‘All my memories are up there,’ said 32-year-old Susan White. ‘All the happy times and the bad ones too, and now it just won’t exist any more.’

Others said the demolition hadn’t started soon enough.

Peter Sheridan, raised nine children in Ballymun. ‘The towers were a disgrace and putting us there was an inhuman way to treat people. We were dumped and left there. The place stank, the lifts didn’t work. It was just awful.’

Acknowledging the failure of the flats scheme, Dublin city manager John Fitzgerald said: ‘Let’s just say that mistakes were made in the past. Let’s hope they’re not made again.’

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern denied the decision to build them was wrong.

“I remember these buildings going up in the Sixties. I remember why they were built, but things went wrong along the way,” he said. “Today is a day for nostalgia, but more than that it’s about the whole community of Ballymun moving on.”

A specially commissioned poem by the Dublin novelist Dermot Bolger was read minutes before yesterday’s demolition began. It read: ‘Whose voice can you hear, who calling down the stair? What ghost trapped in a lift shaft, what child who played and laughed?’

Ballad singer Finbarr Furey performed at a ‘wake’ on Friday night attended by thousands. ‘They dumped us out here in the Sixties to see if we’d survive it. Well, we did,’ he said to loud cheers.

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© 2004 Irish Republican News