Sun sets on Ballymun towers

The seven towers of Ballymun cast their shadows for the last time tonight as people gathered for a final glimpse.

The crowds gathered marking the wake as a celebration of the future rather than a lingering fondness of the past.

Time was quietly ticking by for Pearse Tower, the first of the seven 15-storey tower blocks, which will be demolished tomorrow.

The Dublin towers, named with optimism after the heroes of the 1916 rising, are being given a grand send off as the regeneration of the area takes a step forward.

All 20,000 of the residents in the Ballymun community were invited to attend the celebrations which include performances from local and national musicians, actors, story tellers, poets and artists.

Christopher Mulready, 39, has lived in Pearse Tower since 1967.

Mr Mulready said as a young child he watched the towers go up and now he had the chance to see them come down from his new house in the area.

He said: “The long and short of it is when people move in to the new place, they will have what they always wanted, new apartments or new houses, it won’t be a flat in Ballymun.”

Mr Mulready said: “They basically were luxury apartments when they were built if they had been on the south side of the city you wouldn’t have been able to buy them.” When people first moved into the flats in the 1960s they were considered the height of luxury, with linoleum covered floors, heating in the ceiling and floor and hot water.

“The only problem was there was no control over the heating it was done by the corporation.”

He said the problem in the area was there were not enough facilities for the children. There were no playgrounds, no cinemas and no discos.

Patrick O’Beirne, 61, who lived in Pearse Tower for 14 years summed up his new home in one word “beautiful”.

Michael McDonagh, formerly of Connolly Tower, said it has changed a lot since 1997 when they tackled the drug dealers and installed security cameras in the area.

He said: “Since the Arts Centre was built, they hold local discos and there is something for the children to do. Over the next 10 years we’ll be looking at a different place.”

Stella Murphy, whose nine-year-old daughter Isabelle was taking part in the ballet performance, said the change was for the better.

However, Susan White said her two children and herself feel isolated in her new home far away from her neighbours.

“I’ll cry my eyes out when I see the tower coming down,” she said.

As the crane swings through Pearse block tomorrow it is marking the regeneration project, which over the next five years will see around 5,000 new homes taking the place of the high rise flats.

Three of the 15-storey tower blocks – Pearse, McDonagh and Ceannt Towers - four of the four-storey blocks and one eight-storey spine block will be knocked in this phase.

Ballymun has gained a bad name but the place was not always known for it, as vandals misused them and destroyed some of the property in the area, the place became renowned.

U2’s, lead singer Bono immortalised the tower in a song on their Joshua Tree album.

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