Saturday 16 December 2017

Dublin star Philly McMahon: 'People need to see past the 'stigma' of Ballymun, it's a great place'

Philly McMahon
Philly McMahon
Philly McMahon (left) speaking to Kerry's Colm Cooper
Ballymun tower

Dublin All-Ireland winner Philly McMahon has said that the stigma around Ballymun can lead to young people from the city suburb having low self-esteem.

The 28-year-old was speaking about growing up in the area and the number of drug addicts around in his youth.

McMahon's brother, John Caffrey, fought his own drugs battle, but died in 2012.

"Ballymun was a great place to grow up in, and I'd say it still is today," Philly said. "It was a very tight community."

Demolition work is under way on the last tower - the Joseph Plunkett block - and Philly recalled growing up in the shadows of old Ballymun before the regeneration programme began.

"We had the flats and the towers but we had a lot of greenery, and in the summertime it was great because everybody knew each other and you'd have a radio and everyone would be out together having fun.

"There's a really bad stigma about Ballymun and that's led to youth in the area having low self-esteem.

"That's what I'm trying to negate, and get people to realise it's such a good area and good people can come from it," the Dublin defender said on RTE radio.

His brother John, who was five years older, passed away in 2012 from a heart condition.

Ballymun tower


"It wasn't directly from drugs, he was clean for three years before he passed away, but the effects of drugs on your body takes a toll eventually," Philly said.

"John would have struggled a lot of his life with drug addiction and I suppose when he was growing up, drugs in Ballymun were rampant.

"It was only when he passed away that I realised he was a massive influence in my life.

"I would have seen all the mistakes he made and he definitely would have mentioned to me not to go that way."

The GAA player left school before he was 17 but decided to sit his Leaving Cert after joining the Dublin team.

He went on to receive a degree in education and training from DCU.

"I didn't have anyone in my family go to college," he said.

"There's a lot of people in Ballymun who haven't been to college and probably just don't believe they can do it.

"I've had friends who sadly have passed away from drug overdoses and I have friends that are in prison now.

"I'd still be friends with these people, I don't turn up my nose against them and I'd be willing to try help them no matter what they've done.

"Everybody has problems, everybody makes mistakes, it's important that the support is there to push them to the right path," he added.

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