herald

Tuesday 6 December 2016

Last resident sad to leave after lifetime of happiness

Lisa Matthews at Ballymun towers
Lisa Matthews at Ballymun towers

THE last resident to leave the only remaining Ballymun tower block has said she'll be sad to see it torn down after a lifetime of happiness there.

Lisa Matthews (47) moved out of her home in the Oliver Plunkett tower block in 2014, 22 years after she first picked up her keys.

Ms Matthews and her daughters, Kellie and Leanne, moved into their flat in 1992. At the time 90 families lived in the tower.

"The tower block was full of life," she said.

"All of our neighbours were fantastic. There was a great community spirit. We all helped each other out."

During the summer months families with small children would gather at a playground at the flats.

"My daughters are still best friends with the girls they grew up with there - and their kids are now friends," Ms Matthews said.

"That's what came out of that block - a community."

Not alone were they home to a close-knit community, but the flats were top class Ms Matthews said.

"You'll never see anything like those flats again. They were beautiful, with rooms that were huge. We had underfloor heating, everything you could ask for," she said.

Overjoyed

"I was overjoyed the day I finally picked up my keys - I knew I'd be happy there.

"That tower was well -loved and well-respected by the people who lived there - and we all miss it," she told the Herald.

Lisa returned to the block to take some pictures before it was razed - an experience which she described as "eerie".

No decision about what will happen to the site has been made, but the mum-of-two hopes that housing could be built there.

"A new community could find the same happiness that we had there," she said.

The idea of leaving the flats was both "terrifying and exciting" when it was first proposed, she said.

There were tears from some people who didn't want to leave what they "knew and loved".

"We didn't want to be uprooted for no reason, but I was excited at the thought of having a house with a garden."

"I was born and raised in Ballymun so that was something that I never had," she added.

Now she lives in a house, with a garden, in Finglas just 10 minutes away.

Ms Matthews was the last person to leave because she was reluctant to swap her beloved flat for anything less than she was promised under the original vision for the regeneration.

A flood in her flat eventually forced her out, ruining most of her possessions and forcing her to leave.

Eventually she was allocated a house where she was able to start building a home.

"It was worth the wait. I absolutely love my little house now," she said.

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