Demolition begins on Athlone ghost estate where toddler died
Co Westmeath site is one of Ireland’s most tragic reminders of the building boom
A demolition crew taking down unfinished houses at Glenatore Homes in Athlone yesterday. Photograph: Eric Luke
Unfinished houses are being demolished at the site of one of Ireland’s most tragic reminders of the building boom in Co Westmeath.
Navan-based contractor JJ Duffy Construction started demolishing the unfinished units at the Glenatore estate in Athlone yesterday.
In February 2012, two-year-old Liam Keogh from the adjoining Rindoon estate was discovered drowned at Glenatore. It is suspected the toddler followed a dog on to a fenced unfinished section of the estate.
Local Independent councillor Kevin Moran said the developer had worked closely with the town council to resolve the issues at the development.
A plan was submitted to the Athlone Town Council some months ago, but only given the go-ahead at the last meeting, explained Mr Moran.
He said the developer, Tony Diskin of Athway Construction, had taken on board the concerns of local residents before submitting plans to raze the houses.
Mr Moran liaised with residents and the developer while plans were being drawn up. “The residents came through myself. There is a very active residents’ association . . . Tony took on board what the residents required.” he explained.
“Our thoughts are still with that family and none more so than Tony himself. Nobody wanted this to happen, it’s just tragic. It’s still very much in our thoughts.”
John Duffy, director of JJ Duffy Construction, a civil engineering contractor specialising in demolition, said he hoped the work could improve the area.
“We have been doing a lot of work under the radar, making safe derelict sites. That kind of work has been going on with the builders and the banks,” said Mr Duffy.
The work in Glenatore involves demolishing about a dozen units in varying stages of construction. It is understood a small number of the near-finished houses will be completed. Mr Duffy expects the unfinished houses to be demolished and the area levelled within a week.
Athlone mayor Cllr Gabrielle McFadden greeted the move with mixed emotions.
“We are delighted that it is being dealt with and I am pleased that the developer has a role,” she said. However, Ms McFadden said the tragedy at Glenatore was devastating for the town and “we will always, always remember that child and his family”.
When proposals were brought before the meeting of Athlone Town Council they were “unanimously” supported by elected council members, she explained.
Ms McFadden is determined that the estate will be taken in charge next March before the abolition of Athlone’s town council in May.