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President Higgins opens new housing scheme named after 1916 rebel female doctor

It took 10 years for the scheme in Inchicore to be completed.
Sep 9th 2014, 6:59 PM 20,084 31

ThorntonHeights-82 Lisa Collins with sisters Ellen and Winnie Collins with President of Ireland, Michael D Higgins. Source: Conor McCabe

PRESIDENT MICHAEL D Higgins welcomed the opening of a new housing scheme in Dublin today, noting that it had taken 10 years to be completed.

Thornton Heights, which is in Inchicore, was built in place of St Michael’s Estate.

It’s named after Dr Brigid Lyons Thornton, a physician and member of Cumann na mBan, who was incarcerated in Richmond Barracks after being arrested in 1916.

ThorntonHeights-99 Resident and caretaker of Thornton Heights Derek McNally with President of Ireland, Michael D Higgins. Source: Conor McCabe

Said President Higgins:

Brigid Lyons Thornton was a remarkable woman who is remembered both as a rebel and a doctor. After her implication in the Easter Rising and her release from prison, she continued to work for the welfare of the Irish citizens. Of all her achievements, the most remarkable is perhaps her fight against tuberculosis amongst the poor in Ireland, and her role in pioneering a BCG vaccination scheme in the 1950s which contributed to ridding Ireland of the plague of TB.

He added:

There are still too few streets, buildings and public amenities bearing the name of women in contemporary Ireland.

The site where the housing scheme was built used to be the site of an old British army barracks, Richmond Barracks, and was renamed Keogh Barracks by the Irish Free State.

Later, it was owned by Dublin Corporation and used to house families on the housing list.

ThorntonHeights-62 President Higgins with Rita Fagan from the SME regeneration board and Aileen Walsh, creche manager. Source: Conor McCabe

Then it was the site of Keogh Square, which was demolished and replaced by St Michael’s Estate in the early 1970s.

Higgins saluted the work undertaken by St Michael’s Regeneration Board, in conjunction with a local Inchicore Heritage group, in bringing this “lesser-known chapter of the 1916 story” to light.

The new site includes a crèche with a playground, as well as a community facility and square.

Regeneration

ThorntonHeights-10 (1) Chelsea Fahy (age 8), Angela Mikailu (age 11) and Fikewa (age 8) and Fikunwa Popoola (age 10) Source: Conor McCabe

The final residents moved from the old St Michael’s Estate in 2003. “None of us could have guessed, then, that it would take another decade for the second phase of St. Michael’s Estate’s ‘’Regeneration Project’’ to be completed,” said the President.

As most of you here know very well, too many draft plans for the betterment of this neighbourhood have been put on the table since the late 1990s without ever materialising. Too many new starts have been announced. Too many times have St. Michael’s Estate’s residents hopes been dashed, their work and efforts gone to waste.

He described how there had been a “squandering of trust” due to this, which made it a “relief and a great joy” to celebrate the opening of the 75 houses and apartments at Thornton Heights.

Read: Fancy Dublin housing maps show info from family size to central heating>

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Aoife Barry

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