Saying Farewell to Teresa’s Gardens of a Hallowe’en Night

Wrecking balls and heavy machinery have been busy since February bringing down the flats in my parish. In the 1960s some bright spark in Dublin Corporation thought it a good idea to stack working people on top of one another in Soviet style brutalist flats in the inner city. Fatima Mansions and Teresa’s Gardens in the Liberties were two of these failed solutions to the infamous housing crisis of Dublin. Part of me is delighted to see them come down. People deserve so much better than the flats. Yet seeing them come down with such lack of ceremony does make me feel a little sad. I’ve never lived in the flats, but my friends and neighbours have, and – for better or worse – these iconic buildings have been their homes.


I came to St. James’s a few years ago, and on first seeing the flats I couldn’t help but feel the dread; they were bleak to the eyes, and the kids from them were forever booting my front door and running like banshees over my roof. Every night I made a point of standing at the front door smoking until I had said hello to and spoken with most of the folk who passed by. One night I was invited round to the flats for a drink, and, thinking I was taking my life in my hands, I went around. The sun was up before I got back home that night. What happened was that the ice had been broken. I knew people by name, and they knew me. After supplying some of the kids with racing pigeons – a big hobby in this part of town – my door stopped getting kicked, and they ask permission before high-tailing it over my roof. That’s a start.


As one of the local holy people, my door gets knocked at all hours of the day and night. Bad things happen here – not because the people are bad. Not at all! Bad things happen in places like this. Drugs have a lot to do with it, and there is no shortage of pushers who visit the flats. Quite often when something happens someone will come looking for me, and I am glad they come. I have seen how so many people around here are treated by the police. I’m glad they have people they can turn to, and I hope I haven’t let anyone down.


Last night, possibly the last Hallowe’en in the life of Teresa’s Gardens flats, everyone came out to enjoy the community bonfire and fireworks. Kyle, Marley, Anthony, and the rest were so chuffed to discover they had built the biggest bonfire in the city. I’ve watched them dragging wood to it all month. Last night I took a wee walk round to see it burning and I was overcome with the mood and the atmosphere. Mums and dads were all together with their children, all the youngsters were being cool, and you’d think it was Christmas. “Hey Jason, would you like a beer?” – Of course I would.

Ùr-Fhàsaidh
Jason Michael
Blog Author

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