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'Great memories during times of great hardship': Block of St Teresa's Gardens to be demolished

Former residents will gather to watch the block come down this afternoon.

Image: St Teresa's Gardens via Facebook

LATER TODAY, THE final block of flats in the first phase of regeneration in St Teresa’s Gardens will be demolished.

It is a bittersweet day for those who called the flats home for years or even generations.

The last residents of the south inner city council flats moved to their new homes in November last year. The celebration of the long-awaited regeneration project’s success will be tinged with sadness, as former dwellers say goodbye to homes they grew up in and raised families in, full of memories both happy and sad.

Andrew O’Connell, a former resident of the flat complex, said there are “a huge number of good, positive memories, but there was huge hardship throughout the years”.

“There was always a huge community spirit, we had the football club which was central, the boxing club and people just volunteering all the time – no one else was going to do it for us”.

Families really looked out for one another, doors were always open, you’d always get a dinner in someone’s house or someone’s mam would look after you if yours was out working.

Heartbreak

There are painful memories, however, for some former residents of the flats.

It wasn’t an easy life for many kids growing up there – drugs and alcohol in particular played a huge part in destroying many families. For some there were no proper structures, their lives were chaotic and they had nowhere to turn to so they got involved in crime and got locked up or started sticking heroin syringes in their arms.

A number of residents over the years lost their lives to drug abuse.

One thing those who called St Teresa’s Gardens home will always be proud of is how the community took a stand to tackle the drugs problem in the 80s.

“We had a really strong tenants association that was very active in getting the government to take action.”

The block that is being demolished today is the last in this first phase of regeneration and was a meeting point for the community as it contained a number of shops.

Source: St Teresa's Gardens Memories via Facebook

O’Connell has fond memories of some of the characters who owned the businesses.

“You had Mrs Moore’s chemist. She had cures for everything, she wasn’t just a chemist, she was very much like a mother to a lot of people. When money was in short supply, there was always a system in place, if Mary didn’t have it this week, Mrs Moore wouldn’t see her go without.”

Poignant

Lyndsey Anderson, who is the regeneration coordinator for St Teresa’s Gardens told TheJournal.ie the demolition will be “very emotional for people” because they were so connected to the community.

When the claw strikes the building, it scrapes it away and exposes the inside of the flat. There’s something very poignant about that.

Though it will be a sad day for a lot of people, she said the demolition is “a signal towards the future and what’s happening next, which is new homes for the residents.”

Source: bazzie cullen/YouTube

In a Facebook post on the St Teresa’s Gardens Memories page about the demolition, one former resident said it had been a place of “great memories during times of great hardship”.

Another said: “This place holds so many beautiful memories”.

“Those were the good days indeed, good neighbours you could rely on,” one man remembered, adding that with the construction of new and better flats, there “will be another happy place with memories to cherish”.

Construction of new homes on the site is expected to begin in early 2017.

Read: A motion requiring all new units in O’Devaney Gardens to be public housing has been overturned>

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