Impressions of poverty

Critical Dispatches

Our national epic has yet to be written – James Joyce

If you’ve ever listened to the song Running to Stand Still from U2’s Joshua Tree album you will have heard about the Irish town of Ballymun in the lyric “I see seven towers but I only see one way out.” Located on the northern periphery of Dublin city, Ballymun was at one time Ireland’s largest and – at least as much as my own experience has led me to hold – most unattractive public housing estate. Hastily conceived through a confluence of public and political pressure in response to a housing crisis in Dublin in the early 1960’s, the Ballymun Housing Project was missioned with providing relief from the wholly unsatisfactory conditions of the collapsing inner city slums for the region’s poorest and most desperate. Upon the project’s completion in 1966, the Ballymun estate featured seven fifteen-story tower blocks…

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