Nationalist & Leinster Times 30 October 1948
Derelict Sites May Soon Disappear
Athy Urban Council has been offered a splendid opportunity to remove the town’s many dilapidated buildings, writes our Athy representative. This has come in the shape of an important Local Government circular covering various aspects of Local Authority Housing. A paragraph dealing with “Building On Derelict Sites” calls for an immediate survey of such sites, and a stroll around Athy will reveal a fair share of these.
In Meeting Lane the eye is confronted on all sides with these ugly gaps. Offaly Street is spoiled by a sort of wilderness containing the foundations of a cinema that never materialised. Down by the River Barrow at Rathsteward there still exists the un-lovely remains of what once were small dwelling houses. Crossing the Barrow Bridge a derelict mill and yard at once catches the eye. Here it is proposed to erect a modern Cinema should the necessary building licence be granted.
Convent Lane has its quota of “built up” house which do not enhance the entrance to St. Dominic’s Church and buildings at the rere of this lane resembles a bombed out area. Woodstock Street, or Barrack St., as most people call it is studded with gaping sites, falling houses, built up premises, and filthy looking ruins, all taking from the fine appearance of this wide thoroughfare.
Blackparks, too, has not escaped the ravages of years and here [and] there are a few unsightly old houses, bricked up with grass and weeds growing at the entrances. Janeville Lane almost strikes awe into the heart of a stranger. Where once stood two rows of tiny houses built opposite and almost with arms reach of each other, now a few scattered houses remain interspersed with rubble and filth of every kind. Garden Lane belies the sweet smelling name given to it by some unimaginative citizen in the remote past. Three old houses stand there amid a profusion of stones and mortar. Mount Hawkins and Chapel Hill abound in ruins.
Standing in the midst of this ugliness are the fine [s]chools, primary and secondary, of the Sisters of Mercy, which cater for hundreds of young children, who of necessity must pass daily through this St. John’s Lane, in which is situated the Christian Brother’s Schools, looks battle scarred after the struggle for survival. A little thinning amongst the old world dwellings there and the erection of modern houses would improve the general appearance.
To the credit of the poor people compelled to live in these sordid surroundings it must be stated that despite the size and age of their dwellings most of them are well kept, clean, neat and tidy. That such people deserve better houses and better treatment generally was undoubtedly uppermost in the mind of the Minister for Local Government when he caused these instructions to be circulated amongst Local Public Bodies, and it is hoped that he will get full co-operation in the work of providing decent homes and decent dwellings for all such as have had to endure life in dull and drab surroundings like so many unfortunates in Athy.