The Ballymun Flats refers to a number of flats – including the Ballymun tower blocks, seven landmark residential towers built in the 1960s – in Ballymun, Dublin. They are currently undergoing demolition and since October 2013, all three remaining blocks were empty. There were 36 blocks of Ballymun flats (7 fifteen storey, 19 eight storey and 10 four storey blocks).
The Ballymun Flats were built in the 1960s to accommodate the rising population, particularly to accommodate former residents of inner-city areas which were being cleared in the process of 1960s 'urban slum clearances'. Whilst suffering from a lack of sufficient public amenities, several schools served the area (Holy Spirit N.S. and Ballymun Comprehensive), as well as an Eastern Health Board medical centre and a purpose built shopping centre. The area suffered from many social problems such as drugs and rampant crime. The causes of these social problems, and the subsequent discrimination faced by many people with Ballymun addresses when seeking employment outside the suburb, have been disputed, but Ballymun generally paralleled the experience of many working-class people in the 1960 and 1970s when placed in high-rise locations.
Despite the negative perceptions of many non-residents of Ballymun, many of the residents insist that there is a strong sense of pride and community in the area. Lynn Connolly, whose 2006 memoir The Mun: Growing Up in Ballymun detailed her raising there in the 1970s and 1980s, readily acknowledged the problems there and wanted to get out at the time. But she later came to realise that there had been much that was good at the towers – in terms of a collective wit among residents and a helping sense of community – which had been ignored by the media.
Four storey flats
All three four-storey flats (Sandyhill Avenue, Sillogue Avenue and Shangan Avenue) have been demolished. A new area called Marewood, consisting of houses and apartments, is now situated where the Sandyhill Avenue flats once stood.
Eight storey flats
As of March 2014, there are now only two eight-storey flats left which are now evacuated and about to undergo demolition, These flats are located at Balbutcher Lane which were the only flats in Ballymun to have windows on the back balconys (mostly referred to as landings) and railings around the car park. Unlike other flats in the area, visitors had to buzz in to enter the back stairwell of the flats. It is located beside Joseph Plunkett tower, the only remaining tower in Ballymun, which is also the only tower to have ever had the same features as the Balbutcher Lane flats.
As of 2011, most of the flats on Shangan Road and Sillogue Road are now evacuated, one of the Sillogue blocks featured a large note saying 'Concrete Jungle Mother Farewell to Your Stairwell Forever', this block along with others is now demolished Coultry Road had just one of three blocks of flats demolished in 2005, but in 2010, work began on removing another block, all Coultry flats are now demolished.
The flats on Balcurris Road are the only block of flats which no longer exist. Demolition of Balcurris was completed in early 2009. Subsequently, various circuses have taken place on the site of where the flats once stood. It is believed that the Ballymun Shopping Centre, which is located next to where the Balcurris flats stood, is to be rebuilt and could be extended onto the now empty area, also the proposed Dublin Metro North is due to travel through Balcurris.
Fifteen storey flats
The Ballymun tower blocks were seven landmark residential towers built in the 1960s in Ballymun, Dublin, Republic of Ireland. The seven towers were named after the seven leaders of the 1916 rising; Patrick Pearse, Thomas MacDonagh, Sean MacDermott, Eamonn Ceannt, Thomas Clarke, James Connolly and Joseph Plunkett.
Only one of these towers remains standing today as the plans to regenerate Ballymun are due for completion by 2014. In 2004 demolition of the first tower began. The Patrick Pearse tower was demolished slowly by mechanical means, whilst MacDermott and MacDonagh Towers were demolished by controlled implosion. Ceannt, Clarke and Connolly towers were demolished by mechanical means also.
The remaining tower is clearly visible from adjacent Dublin Airport. A petition is currently being drawn up to save the Joseph Plunkett tower from being demolished.
- Patrick Pearse tower (1966–2004) was the first of the Ballymun towers to go up in 1966. Pearse Tower was half way through construction when the construction of MacDonagh Tower started. Pearse Tower was the first tower to be demolished in 2004.
- Thomas MacDonagh tower (1966–2005) was the second tower to go up in 1966 and in 2005 was demolished by controlled implosion.
- Eamonn Ceannt tower (1966–2005) was the third tower built in 1966; in 2005 it was demolished.
- James Connolly tower (1966–2007) was the fourth tower built in 1966. In 2007 it was demolished.
- Sean MacDermott tower (1966–2005) was the fifth tower to be built, in 1966. In 2005 it was demolished by controlled implosion and went down in less than 8 seconds.
- Thomas Clarke tower (1966–2008) was the 6th tower built in 1966. Before it was demolished in 2008, the top floor was turned into a short stay hotel.
- Joseph Plunkett tower (1967–present) is the last tower standing, and was the last built in 1967. As part of Ballymun Regeneration Ltd plans, Joseph Plunkett Tower will be demolished by 2015.
In popular culture
- The line "I see seven towers, but I only see one way out" from U2's 1987 song "Running to Stand Still" (on The Joshua Tree album) refers to these towers. The link between the towers and the song was pervasive enough to be mentioned in some tourist books about Dublin.
- Ballymun flats feature in M. J. Hyland's Booker-shortlisted novel Carry Me Down (2006), symbolising John's family's descent into poverty.
- The Ballymun Trilogy is a series of three plays about the process of change in Ballymun, written by Dermot Bolger and staged by the Axis Art Centre located close to the original site of McDonagh Tower. They are From These Green Heights, The Townlands of Brazil, and The Consequences of Lightning.
- Lynn Connolly followed up her memoir with a 2012 mystery set in the Ballymun flats entitled Elizabeth III'.
- "Ballymun – A History"
- Connolly, Lynn (2006). The Mun: Growing Up in Ballymun (paperback). Dublin: Gill & Macmillan. p. 2. ISBN 0-7171-4042-3. Chapter 1 available online.
- "The Mun: Growing Up in Ballymun by Lynn Connolly". Read Ireland Book Reviews (358). 2006.
- The Dubliner, "A Social History of U2 1976–2005", 1991 entry. Retrieved 14 December 2006.
- Davenport, Fionn (2008). Dublin: City Guide (7th ed.). London: Lonely Planet. pp. 52–53. ISBN 1-74104-710-2.