Long-time resident of St Michael’s Estate looks to the future with mixed emotions

Caroline McNulty at Thornton Heights, formally St Michael’s Estate, Inchicore. Photograph: Eric Luke

Caroline McNulty at Thornton Heights, formally St Michael’s Estate, Inchicore. Photograph: Eric Luke

It’s almost 20 years since Caroline McNulty moved into St Michael’s Estate, four years since she moved out, and 16 years since she completed a survey agreeing to the demolition and regeneration of the flat complex.

This week she and her three children – Daniel 21, Nicole 19, and Callum seven – will move back into the estate, now called Thornton Heights, to a new three-bedroom house.

She’s looking forward to being back but says she’s sorry she ever agreed to the demolition of the flats.

“Conditions in the flats were very bad, so at the time I thought the demolition was the best thing, but looking back, I would have objected to it.”

The process of clearing the estate of its tenants went on for more than 10 years, dissolving a community built up over decades.

Only 11 tenants and their families who lived in the complex of about 350 flats will be moving back.

Community broken up

“Even now, and I am looking forward to getting settled into the house, even now I’d rather be living in the flats. The old community was broken up and scattered all around the place. It’s not just flats that got demolished.”

As the blocks were gradually vacated and the residents moved on, the conditions worsened in the remaining flats.

Ms McNulty was one of the last to leave St Michael’s, during Christmas week 2010. “Things had got very bad near the end. It was very damp and run-down with mildew and mould on everything.

“There were leaks on the stairs outside the flats and I remember one very cold morning I was going down to unlock the main door and let the postman in and the leaks had all turned to ice. I ended up going flying and landed on my back.”


As a member of the regeneration board she had to deal directly with the numerous set-backs and delays in the redevelopment process. “We were let down so many times. I don’t know how I persevered with it.”

Despite her reservations about the demolition of the flats she was always determined to return. “I never had any intention of settling anywhere else. I’ve put in too many years.

“I was pregnant with my first child when I moved into the flats. Regeneration never happened for my older kids, but I want them and my grandkids to get the benefit of it now.”