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Between Generations, St Theresa Gardens


Between Generations, St Theresa Gardens

Some years ago (though not too many mind!), I grew up in St Theresa’s Gardens.  A place, that myself and my family still have fond memories of and converse about regularly, though to others the name brings connotations of tough living. For some time now, the flats have been going through some changes the long awaited and even longer implemented regeneration project.  As the area is intrinsic to my own biography, I decided to return to my old stomping grounds and see how the site looks.

I drove the very short distance from Fatima to the flats to see what was happening. I had heard talk that the old boxing club, Donore Ave boxing Club had been pulled down. I was relieved to see the old boxing club still standing, no knockout blow for it just yet. My family have a history with the place, my Da, aptly named “Boxer” helped to open it and my brother Paddy, who reached Super Heavy Weight trained there. My other brothers also trained there as with most of the flats’ youth from the 70’s to recent times. I drove in to the flat complex making my way up to the block on the right hand side, behind the Coombe Hospital.

One side of the flat (the part directly behind the hospital grounds) has been knocked down, leaving only a piece of land, which is now growing grass, the constant reminder that no matter what man does, nature will eventually conquer. While I was looking around the block I noticed some of the other flats with their front doors open and exposed. I initially thought perhaps there was some security walking around and they were in the flats that where opened. I went over to one of these flats and shouted in, no one shouted back. Curiosity, macabre or otherwise brought me into one of these former homes.

As I walked around, I couldn’t help thinking who ever left this flat must have left a lot of memories behind too. I then went up the concrete stairs and made my way up to the 1st Balcony, from the ground level I could see more flats opened. I wondered in and out of these empty flats, taking photos. Some still had furniture in them, resembling life but eerily quiet like some mock home in a village about to be atom bomb tested. Others where just shells, only decaying wall paper suggested there was ever life there.

One common feature and perhaps, the one thing that should have been obvious to me, in all of the empty flats, all the old Copper boilers had been removed.  In some cases, Bathroom and Kitchen fittings where left on the floors either waiting to be picked up or carefully left in a certain way.  It became apparent these open doors were caused by no visitation of a phantom but rather an entrepreneurial burglar.   As I progressed from one flat to another, from one bedroom to another, it appeared that the steel locks and barriers that were put on most of the doors had been removed or busted, so people could gain access and steal these old copper fittings.

I went back outside and spoke to two young lads sitting outside St Theresa’s Grotto, they told me they still lived in the flats and they had been moved several times around each block, so the Dublin City Council could get on with the regeneration project. I made my way down to the two set of double blocks at the front of the flats where the main gate is situated. The side of the flats, where it backs out onto Donore Ave Boxing Club, seems to be all fixed up and painted. A local lady told me they (DCC) had just finished it.

It became apparent as I talked to people around the area that no one seemed to know which block of flats would “survive” the regeneration and which would be removed.  It became clear that for the 60 or so families that still live there that place has become some halfway house nightmare.  Quiet, damp, and near empty awaiting renovation, which has just started.  As I stared back into the flat complex I see no people. When we were all growing up in these flats, there used to be hundreds of children out playing, on swings put up on to a light pole using ropes, girls playing Piggy using an old polish tin, hopping from one square to another.

I got back in my car, resigning myself to visit again, when the flats truly were regenerated.

One Response

  1. tangee breder says:

    Very well written, as I also had family that lived there including the writer of this piece, it was brilliantly writen that I had visions of myself as a little girl visiting my grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins, thank you for the stroll down memory lane.

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