Photo: Paula GeraghtyIt has taken a very long time, and the last 12 years in particular were tough, when it was on again and off again, but look at where we are now.” Fiona Hanlon

Almost fifty years ago, the first families moved to Tom Kelly Road Flats. On November 3rd 2017, at the moment when the winter sun set, a unique cultural journey occurred with some of those first families – and others who came later – with children and grandchildren. The community came together to mark their transition to the new Ffrench Mullen House on Dublin's Charlemont Street. It revived memories of the good times, the hard days, and the values still important to remain connected and strong.

Just as darkness set in, a group of 50 friends were led outside by a music group from the Community Resource Centre. Some carried the 33 specially tailored community portrait banners with an individual wish for the future printed underneath. The portraits reflected the conversations and workshops facilitated by community artists Ed and Vita. People spoke about their wishes and choices and anyone who wanted, was photographed for the portrait.

The idea for a final cultural walk, close to the time when people were to move to their new homes, was hatched in conversations and exchanges in May, June and July 2017. Community members active in the Circle of Friends and the Development Group were pivotal in their propositions of marking in an intimate way, the lived lives that had emerged from the soon-to-be demolished Tom Kelly Road Flats. Staff members Trish, Úna, Lyndsey, Eileen and Sara were constant in their roles behind the scenes to bring the proposed ideas to fruition.

It is hard to imagine the nervousness and fear that filled the air in the days before the move. It was, indeed, a very stressful time. The creative walk offered a break – a time to stop and remember what a significant achivement had occurred – long awaited, new social housing!

Photo: Paula Geraghty“As one light goes out another is lit and the spirit goes on. Trish Brennan

The marchers rolled slowly towards the back block and gathered around in a circle to sing the first song, prompted by the music group trio of Brian Fleming, Eoghan Scott and Kieran Gallagher. Eoghan, himself, had grown up in Charlemont and his family were well remembered there. The marchers walked to the next block and assembled around the cherry tree, keenly listening to Eoghan, who aptly broke into John Spillan's The Dance of the Cherry Tree.
Backed by the harmonious voices of neighbours, a resounding chorus pulsed the night air:
We travelled all around the sun, it‘s taken us some years, well done! Well done everyone! Well done! On behalf of the cherry trees, well done everyone.
Jackie Brady said a few words, reminding us all how much we loved the old Charlemont and its neighbours who would now bring something really positive into the new homes. Then we walked together to the front block alongside Charlemont Street and stood gazing at our new homes.
With just a bit of prompting, Antoinette Carroll recited her poem, //Heart and Soul//, written some years ago as a reflection on her family life in Charlemont. It was filled with images that triggered memories, some which had been forgotten.
Then, the families continued to the small island in front of the second block and gathered around to sing Dublin in the Rare Auld Times. Trish Brennan spoke about what the old community centre meant for the community and what the new centre would also mean. And all the while, children and teenagers alike looked on and listened, knowing that this was a night they would remember for a long time.
In the end, we were drawn back into the belly of Charlemont, to the Community Centre for a good cup of tea, and a chance to be at home together for the last time under Tom Kelly Road Flats.

Photo: Paula GeraghtyIt captures the sentimental nature of the night when the creativity and art work and community spirit are put to use marking a really important historical movement. Brian Fleming


Community Culture [June 2016]

Community CultureCharlemont/Tom Kelly Road Regeneration Hoarding

A journey to a unique place in Dublin's imaginary for a co-participatory art project with the residents and friends of Charlemont social housing estate. Since 2015, we have worked together with the regeneration and health coordinators to travel with residents through the anxiety of homes being detonated and the beginnings of new community building. Art and creativity embedded in this community becomes an instrument of resistance to challenge and take back the power of creating ones own future, in the face of dead end utopias and endless waiting for a better future. Charlemont residents are distinctive in Dublin because of their wish to use art and culture as a strategy for community building. The place - balconies, flats, community centre and site hoardings will be spaces for transformation by residents through image, text and spoken word. This involves a specific methodology for the artistic process:
  1. Listen and Observe i.e. data collection, memories and proffering where possible new capabilities and skills.
  2. Practice of Relationship building as a process of getting-to-know local residents and its experts on location.
  3. Co-generation of ideas through workshops to interpret memory and release a new response-ability.
  4. Co-creation as a process of cultural potency whereby the resident and wider creative community work confront each other in terms of how we can live together better.

We want to create the conditions for collective agency with all stakeholders despite the fact that work with others is often produced against the odds, with risk and danger of erasure. Yet these precarious qualities sometimes over time can produce surprises by learning from the failures through (re)searching and testing until the cultural work works for the community.

Community Culture in Action Strategy

fluxus Time Capsule of People and Memory
Community Culture Tour
Community Building is our Future hoarding design

2016 Activity Reports

2016 Invitations

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